Do you know what this self-proclaimed Foodlova loves more than food? My husband! Do you know what my husband loves more than anything? Pie! So, since it was his birthday yesterday I got baking (again…). I didn’t just want to make a plain-old pie, I wanted to make something that would blow his mind, something special. I found that something special on Piece of Cake.
This recipe caught my eye because it is filled with almond paste (aka frangipane). Turns out that everything is filled with said goodness over here in the Netherlands. You have gevulde koeken (filled cookies), filled pastries and we even bought a loaf of raisin bread and were delighted to find a tube of almond paste right down the middle! You can’t really go wrong with frangipane.
I set off to the market to find some sort of fruit to top it with. A person could use any sort of fruit to top this baby. I chose pears because they are in abundance at the market right now. By the way, the markets here are so amazing! I can go 3 times a week, as opposed to once a week in Canada. Here, the produce is cheaper than the grocery store. In Canada, having fresh produce at a farmer’s market is an excuse to jack up the price, but that may just be Calgary’s MO (read: mode of operation – sometimes I think I’m a gangsta)!
Now, moving on, the recipe calls for coarse sugar to sprinkle on top. In the grocery store here there are tons of different sugars. Some that I have never heard of before. They have fine, coarse, soft, ones specifically for hot drinks (kandij), etc. The funniest one is called Basterd suiker. Basterd?! I can’t help but laugh every time!
This pie or “galette” is so simple and looks so pretty. The taste is rich, sweet and the crust is flaky. I usually hand the job of making the crust over to my husband, but I wasn’t going to make him make his own birthday “cake.” No way! This style was easy for me because you only have to make the bottom and then just fold the edges over. Oh yeah, and I got my rolling pin in the mail – fiiinaaallyyyy! – which made the job even easier. Goodbye wine bottle (well, not goodbye per say, I will still drink you later…). Placing the pear slices in concentric rings takes a bit of time, but it just makes the finished product look so professional – you really should do it!
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 cup unsalted butter (chilled)
6 tbsp cold water
100 g (4 oz) almond paste, crumbled
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp almond extract
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
4-6 pears, peeled and slices lengthwise
4 tbsp coarse sugar
Start with the pastry – combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter, a fork or your fingers to work in the butter. If you have a food processor – giddy-up! When the butter is pee-sized, add all 6 tbsp of cold water and combine until the dough starts to come together. Remove from the bowl and pad into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
Next the almond filling – put sugar and flour in a mixing bowl (you can use your fancy processor here too – can you tell I am jealous?!). Add the crumbled almond paste and almond extract. Combine. Add the butter and mix until well blended. Finally, add the egg and mix until smooth.*
Now, peel and slice up the pears. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit (190 degrees celcius). Roll out the dough into a large round on parchment paper (bakpapier). It should be about 30 cm (14 inches) in diameter. Spread the almond filling evenly over the pastry, making sure to leave a 4cm (2 inch) border. Lay out the pear slices in concentric circles starting at the outside and working in. Fold up the edges of the pastry all the way around. Sprinkle with your coarse sugar of choice. The recipe calls for brushing the crust with melted butter, but I thought that this recipe had enough butter already :).
Slide into the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour or until it is golden brown. Remove from baking sheet (with paper intact) and let cool on a rack. Eat the entire thing in one glorious birthday evening!
*I used a fork for all steps! Nothing like living-it-up old school.