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Gingery Treacle Tart with Poached Pears

With this imaginative do-over of a quintessential autumn bake, humble treacle tart is elevated to fancy dessert status: the inclusion of lemon and ginger stand in counterpoint to the sweet treacle (golden syrup) in the filling, and the whole is made elegant by the addition of poached pears standing tall. We like to serve up slices with warm custard to pour over, but you could also serve with cold cream, whipped or not, to suit your fancy. We think this tart would be a deliciously light alternative to pumpkin pie at a Thanksgiving table!

Gingery Treacle Tart with Poached Pears

16 oz. sweet shortcrust pastry, homemade (our recipe doubled) or store-bought
10 oz. sugar (scant 1½ cups)
3 lemons, zested
5 ripe but firm pears, peeled
1¾ cup golden syrup
1-2 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tsp.), plus 1 tbs. syrup
5 oz. fresh breadcrumbs (2¼ cups)
3 eggs
heavy cream to pour or warm custard, for serving

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a loose-bottom 9” round tart tin (the sides need to be about 2 inches high). Chill for 30 minutes before baking.

In a large saucepan, melt the sugar with 3¼ cups water and the zest of 1 lemon. Increase the heat until just simmering, drop in the pears, then cover and poach for 12-15 minutes until almost tender. Lift out the pears and set aside on a piece of parchment paper to cool some.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Line the pastry case with parchment, fill with baking beans, then bake blind for 15-20 minutes until a pale biscuit color. Remove the paper and beans, then bake for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the golden syrup in a small pan with the remaining zest, juice of 1 lemon, and the chopped ginger and syrup, then warm until runny. Tip the breadcrumbs into a large bowl, then stir in the syrup and eggs.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Use a melon baller to core the pears through the bottom of each, then space them out standing upright in the tin. Carefully spoon in the filling and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until golden and set. Cool to room temperature and serve with cold cream or warm custard.

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