Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pear Tart
Pears are the unsung heroes of fall. Everyone at the farmers market last weekend was all, "Oooohhh, apples this and apples that." Fine. Let 'em try and outdo each other with "Honeycrisp is better than Jonagold, but for baking it's all about Mutsu." That keeps them away from the best fruit of the season: pears. You know I'm right. And I want them all for myself.
As a kid, I loved opening my lunchbox at school and finding a pear instead of an apple. Those were very good days. As an adult, I love eating them raw, poaching them in wine, making chutneys and butters with them, and baking with them. One time I tried to make a pear pie. It was, shall we say, gross — really, really gross. A pear tart with a creamy custard, though? Bonkers-good.
Before being diagnosed with celiac, I'd make my own tart crust or use store-bought ones and make pear tarts all the time. Now that I can't have gluten, I've experimented with different packaged flour mixes and my own flour concoctions, but it wasn't until this year that I really nailed it.
The secret? Oat flour and buckwheat flour. The other secret? Browning the butter for the custard filling. This dessert will make your place smell amazing as it bakes. It’ll make you smile. It might even help you get after-dinner lucky. And after the first bite, eyes roll and people swoon. I've seen it happen. Not really. But close, I swear!
I can't decide what I like more: pears or brown butter. With this recipe, you don't have to choose. You get 'em both! The crust of this tart is all about fall. Buckwheat and oats, together with rice flour, is hearty and holds the custard and pears together. This dessert is a stunner. One bite in, and your family and friends are going to fight for more. Just you wait and see!
In a large saucepan, combine the water, wine, sugar, orange blossom water, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean and seeds. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add pear quarters. Cover pot with lid, leaving a slight opening for heat to escape. Poach pears over low-medium heat for 20 minutes. Transfer poached pears with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse together the flours, xanthan gum, sugar and salt until just combined. Add the butter and pulse until the dough starts to line the bowl of the food processor. Add the egg and water. Run food processor until dough comes together in one crumbly ball.
Using your hands, press the dough into the tart pan, ensuring it's evenly pressed on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust on the lowest rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it becomes golden brown and releases a slightly nutty smell — this should take about 2 to 3 minutes. In a mixing bowl or standing mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla seeds, lime zest and salt for 30 seconds. Add the flour and beat at low speed until mixture is smooth. Pour in the brown butter, and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated.
Pour the filling into the baked crust. Gently place the pear wedges on the custard in a circle, with the narrow ends pointing toward the center — or however you'd like to arrange them.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 55 minutes. Let the tart cool completely before serving.