Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Tarte Bourdaloue aux poires

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Tarte Bourdaloue aux poires is a classic french pear and almond tart whose origins seem to be in question. Some say it was created by Coquelin of La Pâtisserie Bourdaloue in 1909 and subsequently named it after the famous Parisienne street which the pastry shop still stands. 河田勝彦, the renowned Japanese patissier wrote in his book “Sélection de patisseries françaises anciennes et modernes” wrote that the first written record of this confection was in “Larousse Gastronomique” written by Proper Montagne which noted that it was created by Fasquelle, a patissier along rue Bourdaloue in the middle of the 19th century who named it after Louis Bourdaloue, a famous french jesuit from late 17th century [sic.]. Whatever the case, this is a very rustic tart and the recipe can be tweaked to suit one’s own likes.  The recipe is made up of 3 simple parts, i.e. Pâte Sucrée, Crème d’amandes and Poires pochées. Here’s the version I’ve adapted from several recipes I’ve come across.

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Recipe is as follows

ingredients and mise-en-place

for Pâte Sucrée (sweet crust pastry)

I used sugino’s sweet crust pastry but i’m sure any good tart pastry would work
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for Crème d’amandes (almond cream)

I used the recipe from Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo’s cookbook on basic pastry techniques as a base. Other book and online recipes are very similar. basically its ground almond, icing sugar and butter in equal portions

ground almond 50g
icing sugar 50g
butter 50g
1 whole egg
1 tsp rum
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
first whisk the butter until pale and creamy.
add icing sugar and mix well
beat whole egg in a bowl and add into butter-sugar mixture in 2 -3 additions until well incorporated
sift in ground almond and mix well, careful to break up any lumps.
add rum and give it a good stir,
cover bowl wtih clingfilm and refrigerate
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for Poires pochées (poached pears)

3-4 fresh pears.
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and scrapped
1 stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 clove
sugar 60g
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

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Add water and sugar into pot and bring to a boil to prepare syrup

add peeled pears, scrapped vanilla pod and remaining spices. Maintain the pears upright if possible to ensure even cooking. when the water returns to a boil, lower flame and let it simmer for about 15 min.

turn off flame and allow the syrup to cool down before transferring to airtight container. Allow the pears to steep in the cooking liquids overnight in the fridge to allow the flavours to intensify.

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other ingredients

apricot glaze
ground almond, ground pistachio and/or toasted ground hazelnuts

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roll pastry crust until thin and place into mould ring or tart pan.
dock the base with a fork. leave in fridge for another 30 min for the crust to firm up.
sprinkle ground almond, ground pistachio and toasted ground hazelnut generously over the base
pipe almond cream in spirals
carefully halve pears and slice them about 3-4 mm thick
line the pear slices over the top of the almond cream in a radial motif. traditionally 4 lots are placed to resemble the cross since it was afterall to commemorate the french jesuit. I used rather small pears and had space for 5 lots to form a simple rosette.be careful not to leave any gaps in the middle
bake at 180C for about 40-45 min
take out of oven and while still hot, brush the top with a generous application of apricot glaze
sprinkle with toasted almond slices or chopped silician pistachios
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Modifications and Reflections

be sure to chill the pastry dough sufficiently before working on them. It can be rather tricky as the butter melts really quickly in our weather and from the heat dissipated from our hands.

I used argentina sugar pears because they are in season. Any hard pear should work. select pears which are completely riped but still very firm and hard. Soft pears with macerate with the poaching and lose form.

i’d used orange blossom water in both the creme d’amandes and the pear poaching liquids as I love the aroma as well as the slight hint of bitterness imparted by the concoction. The initial plan was to add it only to the poaching liquids but it seemed to subtle for several reasons. The heat might have broken down the chemicals which render the intricate floral sense from orange blossom water. These are esters we are talking about and many of them are not heat tolerant. I’d poached 6 pears with a “just in case” mentality instead of the 3-4 I’ve written above.  More pears necessarily mean more water and that would invariably diluted the syrup. so much for being “kiasu”.

so as a contingency measure, I’ve added orange blossom water to the almond cream as well. the fragrance was noticeable but not overpowering. It went very well with the warmth provided by the spices. Again, I’d experimented a little by overdoing the spices with star anise and a single clove, apart from the usually cinnamon-vanilla duo. The complexity of smells and taste aroused by the spices and orange blossom water created something that reminded me of middle east and turkish delights. that certainly broke the monotony of an otherwise sweet and nothing but sweet tart. if you aint sure this is gonna work for you, stick to cinnamon and vanilla. it’s safe but otherwise, boring…

sprinkling an assortment of nuts is again something which was rather experimental. traditionally, broken up macaron shells and ground almond were used. since i don’t have any macaron shells at hand and aint gonna bake some with nice feet only to have them brutely dismembered, I’d added ground pistachio and toasted hazelnuts instead. the latter are leftovers from Pierre Herme’s financiers made 2 weeks back. Since the French are as excessive with noisette as the americans are with peanut butter, I’m sure I’ll be forgiven. 🙂

The top of the almond cream which was not covered with pear slices are sprinkled with leftover crumbs from Aran’s Rhubarb and Mulberry Crumb Cake”

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I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #10: Easy as Pie (August 2011), hosted by Janine of Not the Kitchen Sink!”


19 responses

  1. lovely tart 🙂

    August 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      thanks cathy! you should try it too since you have pears at home as well!

      August 9, 2011 at 1:16 am

  2. Gorgeousness yet again. When do I get to try? This tart looks so so good, with almond and pears… great combo!

    August 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yup! quite a workable combo indeed. cant go wrong i guess, since this tart has been around for more than a century!

      August 9, 2011 at 1:18 am

  3. mmm yum! I did almost the same thing a week ago with those lovely forelle pears, but mini versions of the pear tart. I didn’t know they had such an interesting history to them though, I always thought of them as just “French pear tarts” lol.

    Love the combination of pistachios – I did the same too with my ginger/cinnamon infused tarts and they were quite yummy. The use of orange blossom water is really interesting though! I can’t begin to imagine how “middle-easterny” it’ll taste with that and pistachios and almonds!

    August 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yeah… i love reading about food history, especially when there are twists or mix ups somewhere along which makde it even mnore interesting.

      I love the depth spices and orange blossom water provided here. certainly made it more interesting. the pistachios on top were added mainly more for appearance than anything. I followed the presentation in the Le Cordon Bleu for the use of chopped pistachios and apricot glaze.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:49 am

      • I just went to ToTT just now to get the tart rings and yes, they’re out of stock already! 😦 But I did get my hands on the larger tart ring hehe

        August 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      • Alan (travellingfoodies)

        ic ic… have fun with the tart ring! 🙂

        August 9, 2011 at 8:42 pm

  4. Rustic looking ! alan, can i know what is orange blossom water? did you make that your own?

    August 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      I don’t think its possible for most of us to make our own orange blossom water unless we have a seville orange or bitter orange variety tree in the garden. its prepared by distilling fresh orange flowers in water. Mine’s storebought from Nielsen-Massey. You try those middle-eastern spiice shops. They might just have it.

      August 9, 2011 at 2:44 am

  5. I love poached pears! You sure love making tarts eh? good job btw =)

    August 10, 2011 at 1:28 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hahaha well, yeah i love tarts yes! and its the theme of the month. I would really love to try your Tarte Sarah. so cool to come up with a recipe on your own and what more, it works!!!

      August 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm

      • Ohh its a theme haha. The tarte Sarah’s components are his recipe. Its just that i collected the recipe for each components from his diff entremet’s recipe lol You should try it as it tasted so good that my frd asked me to remake it after the bday party

        August 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm

  6. Pingback: Aspiring Bakers #10: Easy as Pie (August 2011) [ROUND-UP] : Un Pastiche

  7. Eva

    look stunningly beautiful

    May 29, 2013 at 12:47 am

  8. Max

    Could you please tell us the size of your tart pan? What did you sprinkle on top of the almond cream before baking? Is it ground almonds?


    July 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

  9. Pingback: Tartelettes aux Figues et Romarin – Figs and Rosemary Tartlets | travellingfoodies

  10. pooja

    Hello- lovely recipe! I tried it once and it came out yumm!. I am going it make it again and have a question- by ground almonds, do you mean store bought ground almond flour? Or does it imply, soaking fresh almonds and then grinding them (which i did last time)?

    December 15, 2017 at 9:52 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      I used storebought ground almonds. You can also use whole almonds and grind them down yourself of course. 🙂

      December 15, 2017 at 10:02 am

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