"This lovely cake comes from the region of Piedmont, and it's one of my all-time favourites," says Brigitte Hafner. "It's a little bit of work, so I usually make it for special occasions. The colour of the red wine-tinged pears against the yellow polenta is beautiful. Try to get a fine polenta if you can, because it'll make handling of the pastry easier." The poaching liquid makes an excellent syrup. Simply reduce the liquid in a saucepan over high heat to a thick syrupy consistency, drizzle it over the torte and serve with whipped cream.
- 500 ml red wine, such as Chianti
- 165 gm caster sugar (¾ cup)
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 2 strips of thinly peeled orange rind
- 4 beurre Bosc pears
- 1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tsp water, for eggwash
- 200 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 200 gm plain flour (1 1/3 cups)
- 100 gm caster sugar
- 100 gm fine polenta
- Finely grated rind of ½ lemon
- 3 egg yolks
- 1For polenta pastry, process butter, flour, sugar, polenta, lemon rind and a pinch of salt in a food processor until combined. Add yolks and process until mixture just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill (1 hour).
- 2Place wine, sugar, spices and orange rind in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Peel, core and quarter pears, then add to wine mixture and simmer gently until just soft (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Drain pears (keep poaching liquid for another use) and set aside.
- 3Preheat oven to 170C. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to 7mm-thick, line a greased 24cm pie dish and arrange drained pears in base. Roll out remaining pastry, roll over a rolling pin and lift pastry over pears. Press edges together with your fingers to seal, brush with eggwash and bake until golden (35-40 minutes). Set aside to cool to room temperature and serve.
Drink Suggestion: Sweet moscato. Drink suggestion by Max Allen