Thyme adds an intriguing savoury note to this burnt-butter tart,
and poaching the pears in wine adds a further savoury element.
Start this tart a day ahead to rest the pastry, and serve it with a
dollop or two of crème fraîche.
80 gmchilled butter, diced2eggs1egg yolk110 gmraw caster sugarScrapedseeds of ½ vanilla beanFinelygrated rind of ½ orange1 tspthyme, plus extra to serve50 gm(1/3 cup) plain flour2 tbspcrème fraîcheHazelnut pastry80 gmroasted hazelnuts200 gm(1 cups) plain flour110 gmpure icing sugar, sieved125 gmchilled butter, diced2egg yolksPoached pears400 mlsemi-dry white wine, such as riesling400 gmraw caster sugarThinlypeeled rind and juice of ½ orange and ½ lemon3thyme sprigs2cinnamon quills4ripe pears (such as Josephine), peeled, cored and quartered
For hazelnut pastry, finely process hazelnuts in a food processor, add flour, sugar and a pinch of salt, and process to combine. Add butter, process to fine crumbs then add yolks and process until dough just comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
For poached pears, bring wine, sugar, rinds, juices, thyme, cinnamon and 1 litre water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add pears, cover directly with baking paper, weight with a plate, reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender (25-30 minutes). Remove 6 pear quarters with a slotted spoon, pat dry with paper towels, halve each lengthways and set aside. Refrigerate remaining pears in syrup.
Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm-thick round, then line a 23cm-diameter, 3cm-deep tart tin and trim edges. Refrigerate to rest for 1 hour, preheat oven to 180C and blind-bake tart case until edges are light golden (6-8 minutes). Remove paper and weights, then bake until light golden and crisp (5-6 minutes).
Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant (3-4 minutes), pour into a bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, vanilla seeds, rind, thyme and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until fluffy (2-3 minutes), then whisk in flour on low speed. Whisk in brown butter and crème fraîche, pour into pastry case, arrange halved pear wedges on top and bake until set and golden (45-50 minutes). Cool a little, then scatter with extra thyme and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche and extra pears in syrup. This tart is best eaten on the day it’s made.