This month's joust featured pear, ginger and fennel. Not too unusual, but unusual enough that I felt like I was doing one of the TGRWT events. Since I had been playing around with pithiviers I thought I would combine the two concepts. What I ended up with was a ginger pear filled pithivier with fennel infused butter puff pastry.
I used Jacques Torres' Quick Puff Pastry recipe, but any will do. I started by melting half of the recipe's butter in a sauce pan, sautéeing it with one cup of diced fennel. I let that sit for an hour covered to cool, then strained the fennel. I allowed the remaining butter to come to room temp, then in a mixer I creamed the infused and remaining butter until will combined, then chilled. I proceeded with the recipe as usual at this point.
Next take 4 pounds of crisp pears, peel them, cut them vertically in half, core them and then slice them 1/16" thick uniformly - I used a meat slicer. Butter a baking dish - preferably glass. Fan the pears over the entire surface, brush with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with dark muscovado sugar. Keep layering until all of your pears are used - I ended up with about six layers in this dish. Grate a fresh ginger on the top. Wrap the entire dish with two good coverings of saran wrap to make it airtight. Then poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape. Place the pan on a foil lined jelly roll pan. Throw it in an oven set to 175ºF and bake for 10-12 hours. Make sure that if your oven has an automatic shut off that you disable it - mine is called Sabbath Mode. What comes out is perfectly soft and moist pears that maintain their structure. (You'll note that this is exactly what I did a couple of days ago with apples.)
Finally, make an almond cream:
1 C. Almonds, processed into powder
1/3 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Butter, softened
1/4 C. AP Flour
Cream the butter, almonds and sugar until light in a mixer with whisk attachment. Add the egg and whisk for about 5 minutes or until doubled in bulk and very light. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour stopping when just combined.
Roll your puff to 1/16" and cut your first disk. Place a dollop of the almond cream topped with a spoonful of the pears. Brush the edges with an eggwash (1 egg, 2 yolks, 1 T water). Cut the second disk and place on top of the first sealing the edges. On the top, cut a vent in the center then carefully cut in decorative work if you want. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes. While its baking, combine 1/4 C. of corn syrup with 1 T. warm water. Brush the syrup mixture on top and return to oven for another 20 minutes or until the puff is a nice dark brown.
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