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    Tatin of Pears

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    Tatin of Pears

    Makes: Makes one 21cm tart


    • 250g homemade puff pastry
    • 10 firm pears, eg Packhams
    • 325g caster sugar
    • 50g unsalted butter, diced(makes 1.2 kg)
    • Homemade puff pastry
    • 500g unsalted butter, cubed
    • 500g plain flour
    • Good pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
    • 300ml ice cold water


    1. Have the puff pastry ready, or use ready-made. Peel, quarter and core the pears, then cover and set aside.
    2. Put three-quarters of the sugar into a deep saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water. Heat very slowly, stirring occasionally, until the sugar starts to dissolve. With a pot of water and a brush, wash down any sugar crystals that cling to the side of the pan.
    3. When all the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring, raise the heat and boil the sugar until it is a rich, dark caramel. Immediately add the pear quarters (stand back because the caramel will spit).
    4. Stir the pears to coat them well. Don't worry if some of the caramel hardens - it will melt again. Cover with a lid and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the pears are softened but retaining their shape. Turn the pears occasionally. Remove from the heat. Leave the pears to cool in the caramel then chill. Drain the pears and set aside. Discard the caramel.
    5. Put the remaining sugar into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Dissolve the sugar and boil to a caramel as before. As soon as the caramel starts to smoke, whisk in the diced butter. When you have a smooth sauce, pour it into a 21cm flan dish with a fixed base.
    6. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Roll out the pastry to a 23cm diameter circle. Prick it all over and transfer it to the fridge for about 10 minutes.
    7. Arrange the pears on the caramel in the dish, placing them close together. Fit the pastry on top, tucking the edges down. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Drain excess juices off once during baking, leaving enough to keep the pears moist. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then invert onto a plate and serve at room temperature.
    8. To make the Puff Pastry: Put 450g of flour into a bowl with the salt. Rub in 50g of the butter until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Let the remaining butter soften at room temperature.
    9. Place the pastry crumbs in a large bowl and add the vinegar. Trickle in the cold water, mixing with a table knife until the ingredients come together in a smooth dough. You may not need all the water, or you may need a little extra. Knead gently then wrap in clingfilm.
    10. Blend the remaining flour with the remaining butter. This is best done by machine, processing until the mixture is smooth and just comes together. Spoon the butter mixture onto a sheet of clingfilm and shape into a rectangle about 14 x 20cm. Wrap up in the clingfilm and chill the dough and the butter packages for 20 minutes.
    11. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about twice the size of the butter mixture (approximately 25 x 35 cm). Try to keep the edges as straight as possible and the corners well angled. Place the butter mixture on one half of the dough. Fold over the other half of dough to enclose the butter completely then pinch the edges to seal.
    12. Dust off any surplus flour with a dry pastry brush, then carefully roll out the dough in one direction only until it is about 3 times as long as it is wide, making sure none of the butter breaks through. It is best to roll away from yourself.
    13. Fold the dough neatly in 3, bringing the top third down and placing the bottom third over it. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll out again. Lightly dust the board and rolling pin with flour and roll out again to a long rectangle the same size as before.
    14. Fold into thirds as before, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes. Unwrap, then, with the smooth folded edge to the side, roll out into a long rectangle as before.
    15. Fold again into 3, give the dough a quarter turn, ensuring the folded edge is on the same side as before, and repeat the rolling and folding. Give another quarter turn and roll and fold into thirds, then fold again so that you have a double thickness of pastry. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.
    16. If you intend to use the dough straight away, roll, fold and turn it twice again.

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