Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pear Filled Shortbread

Back to summer fruits! And when you work with the best, freshest and ripest ingredients, you don't want much to camouflage that. This simple shortbread crust is perfect for the sweet succulence of summer pears.

Since summer definitely brings out the lazy cook in me (as does fall, winter and spring), this recipe is perfect for its simplicity. I almost wonder why I haven't thought of this before. The original recipe actually called for it to be filled with apples and blueberries, but I went with pears instead. It's definitely versatile - but don't use strawberries, they have too much water.
It starts by lightly cooking the sliced pears with a little sugar and lemon zest. You don't want them too mushy, just slightly cooked with the zest and infused with flavor.
Then it's a matter of whipping up this really easy dough in a stand mixer, and letting it refrigerate for 30 minutes - I stuck it in the freezer for 15, because in addition to being lazy, I am very impatient. Then you roll the bottom layer out, top it with the fruit, and then the top crust, sprinkled with a little demerara sugar.
This is really ideally made in a springform pan (like this one), so that it holds its shape nicely but can be removed and sliced easily. If you don't have one, you could either make it free form on a cookie sheet - though it will spread more - or in a regular 9-inch pan, which might make it harder to get out.
And then you won't be able to play pac-man.

Tip of the Day: When you roll out a crust like this, or pie dough, you're bound to get some tears and rips - and I did! But, I patched it up with more dough - you can see it in the final picture - and all was well in the world.

Recipe: (liberally adapted from Bill Granger's Bills Food)
3 to 4 large pears, of any variety, peeled and sliced
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps water

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
demerara or turbinado sugar

Place the pears, zest, sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat.
Cover and stew about 10 minutes, until just tender. Let cool.
In a stand mixer or by hand, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add in egg and mix well.
Add in the flour and baking powder and stir to combine.
Divide the dough into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or freeze for less).
Roll the first disc out into a 9-inch circle and fit into the bottom of a greased springform pan.
Top with the cooled pears. Roll the next circle out and fit on top.
Press the edges together.
Brush the top with a little water and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top.
Bake on 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, and cool on a wire rack.