French Pear Tart or La Tarte Bourdaloue

  • Serves: Makes one 9- to 11-inch tart
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 400
  • Views: 57051
  • Comments: 10

Variations: Chocolate and Raspberry French Pear Tart; French Peach Tart

The celebrated pâtissier Coquelin bought La Pâtisserie Bourdaloue (which is still up and baking on the rue Bourdaloue) in 1909, and created, among other things, this famous pear tart with frangipane / almond cream. Certain desserts stand the test of time and one of those classics is la tart bourdaloue. It has remained one of my favorites, both to make and to eat. For this recipe, you can use a tart pan that varies in size between 9- to 11-inches. If you use a 9-inch tart pan, hold back on 1/2-cup Frangipane / Almond Cream Filling, but not the amount of pears used. The baking temperature and time will remain the same. We explain the best types of pears to use in our recipe, and when and how to use vanilla beans or vanilla extract.


We use Anjou or Bosc pears in our recipe. Softer pears like Comice or Bartlett, while tasty, will tend to fall apart during poaching. I prefer riper pears (not overripe) over green ones, as they poach in less time and have better flavor.
Before you start, see how many pear halves you can fit into your tart pan when placed in a star burst pattern, to determine the number of pears to poach.

When using a vanilla beans, we add it to the poaching liquid so it can infuse flavor into the liquid. Instead, if using vanilla extract, so it imparts more intense flavor, add it to the recipe AFTER the pears have poached. 

Poached Pears:
SARAH SAYS: If possible poach the pears one day ahead, to allow them to cool down in their sugary liquid in the refrigerator and they will be easier to work with. 

1 quart (4 cups) water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 vanilla bean* or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 4 ripe pears: Anjou or Bosc, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored; You can use jarred pear halves in syrup; just do not poach them.

Pastry Dough:
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled; cut into one-half-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons ice water; place ice in water to chill

Frangipane / Almond Cream Filling:
3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup blanched sliced almonds , plus extra for sprinkling on filled pastry crust
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean, split* or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups whole or 2% milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Apricot Sauce:
1 18-ounce jar apricot preserves
1/4 cup dark rum

Powdered sugar
Whipped cream, optional

NOTE: Use a tablespoon size measuring spoon to pears with after cutting in half lengthwise.

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla bean* (if using vanilla extract instead, add it in Step #3) to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to poaching temperature (not quite a simmer).

2. Poach pear halves until fork tender (a knife should pierce easily) and slightly translucent, 20-30 minutes, depending mainly on how ripe they were.
NOTE: Carefully turn pears over after 10 minutes to prevent them from turning brown on top.

3. Turn off the heat. (If using vanilla extract, add it in here.) Leave pears to cool in the poaching syrup.
SARAH SAYS: The longer the pears sit in the flavorful syrup after poaching, the better they’ll taste.

Refrigerate pears in their poaching syrup if storing overnight for up to 3 days.

Prepare the pastry dough:
1. Sift together measured flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Toss in cold butter pieces. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or your fingertips.

3. Stir together egg yolk and vanilla in a small bowl, then work into flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

4. Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mix until dough holds together, then form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll the pastry dough and fit it into the tart pan:
1. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it is just over 13-inches in diameter.
Fit the dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
SARAH SAYS: You can use a tart pan that varies in size between 9- to 11-inches in size. Make sure you roll the dough about 2-inches larger than the diameter of your pan size.

2. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin and carefully transfer it to your tart pan.

3. Patch and piece together the tart dough as necessary.

4. Trim the dough so it is flat with the top of the tart pan by moving the rolling pin evenly over the top of the pan.

5. Remove the scraps, and save in the refrigerator in case the tart shell cracks when blind-baked.
After that, bake them sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar or save in the freezer for another time.

6. Let the formed pie dough rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or longer.

Blind bake the pastry crust:
1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F, 30 minutes before baking.

2. When ready to blind-bake, prick the tart crust all over with a fork. Place a piece of foil and butter one side, then press the buttered side tightly to the shell. You do not need pie weights.

3. Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the shell is dry and lightly colored.

4. Let cool on a rack until room temperature. Do not unmold from its pan.
NOTE: Do not turn off the oven.

The unbaked pastry dough can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. It can be frozen for about a month. The blind baked tart shell can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, or frozen for a month or more. Thaw at room temperature before using.

Drain and slice the poached pears:
1. Take the cooled poached pears out of their liquid, and drain them on paper towels. You don't want too much excess liquid or they will make the frangipane filling soggy.

2. Cut each pear half crosswise into 3/8-inch thick slices. Keep the pear shapes intact; do not separate the pear slices.

Make the frangipane filling:
1. Combine 1/3 cup almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse just until fine. Set aside until needed.

2. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean* (if using vanilla extract instead, add it in Step #6) into milk and bring to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

3. Combine eggs, remaining sugar, and flour in a large saucepan, slowly whisk in hot milk, and cook, whisking, over medium heat until thick, 3-6 minutes.

4. Strain the frangipane mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl.

5. Then (*If using vanilla extract add here), the almond extract, the ground powdered sugar and almond mixture, and stir.

6. Then, add in the butter, and stir until butter melts and the frangipane filling is smooth. Set aside to cool.

For long term storage, press a piece of plastic wrap on the top of the frangipane and refrigerate for up to three days. It can be frozen for up to a month; thaw in the refrigerator.
Stir before using.

Assemble the tart:
1. Place the cooled prebaked (blind baked) tart shell on a baking sheet. Spoon the cooled custard into the tart shell.
SARAH SAYS: If you have a pastry bag, place the filling in it; it's easier to pipe it in evenly rather than spooning it.
Pipe in a circular motion, starting from the center, spreading out.

2. Add the sliced pear halves: Slide a spatula or other flat utensil underneath the pear so you can transfer the entire half onto the tart.
Lay sliced pears, stem end inward, in a star pattern over the custard.

3. Press them gently into the frangipane. Sprinkle some sliced almonds around.

4. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Make sure the frangipane is puffed, golden brown, and firm to the touch.
Cool on a wire cake rack, and then unmold tart.

The cooled tart can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, but it is best enjoyed the same day.

Make the Apricot Sauce:
1. Stir preserves in small saucepan until melted.

2. Add rum and stir.

The apricot sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

1. Rewarm apricot sauce over medium-low heat before serving. Brush on the tart.

2. Serve tart with sauce, whipped cream, if desired. 

Or, you can brush the pears with some warmed apple jelly (with a small amount of water) to glaze, and/ or dust powdered sugar.

Chocolate and Raspberry French Pear Tart
Simply add 1 cup fresh raspberries to the poaching syrup, and add about an extra cup of water and cook together. Leave the pears to cool in that liquid overnight so the color and flavor intensifies!
Prepare a chocolate sugar dough, substitute 1/4 cup flour for cocoa (about 1/4 cup).
Substitute 2 tablespoons flour for cocoa powder in the almond cream.  

French Peach Tart: Use about 6 to 8 peeled, pitted and halved peaches for the pears.

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