Venice Simplon – Orient Express Pear Pistachio Tart

12th July 2017

I was lucky enough to get to travel onboard the Venice Simplon – Orient Express Train this May.  It was quite an unbelievable experience full of luxury cabins, wonderful staff, stunning scenery and seriously beautiful food.  I have been thinking for some time about the recipe that would best remind me about my journey and it has been a hard choice with so many delicious meals to choose from.   I finally settled on this amazing pear, vanilla tart that we had for teatime while we were passing through the Swiss Alps.  It was a little foggy outside which meant that our cabin was warm and cosy and we sipped tea while at the same time trying to get the perfect shot of the misty mountains.  The tart we ate onboard had a pastry base and here I have simplified it using only a frangipane to encase the pears.  I have also added in some pistachios to boost the flavour.  The pears are displayed exactly how they were on the train tart!  This is the perfect summer cake with a good dollop of vanilla ice cream.


Serves 10


For the pears

3 ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored

1 vanilla pod

50g unsalted butter, soft

2 tbsp unrefined sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tbsp Grand Marnier/Amaretto

For the Frangipane

150g unsalted butter, soft

125g unrefined sugar

100g almond flour

50g rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

90g shelled pistachios

1 tsp cinnamon powder

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

zest of half a lemon

apricot jam for brushing

Preheat to oven to 170 degrees and butter and line a 10inch cake tin with baking paper.

For the pears, set a large saucepan to a medium heat and add the pears, sugar, butter, cinnamon, seeds and skin of the vanilla pod.  Let this cook for about 5 minutes before adding in the Grand Marnier and use a spatula to carefully move the pears around the pan for another 5 minutes.  They should be soft when a knife is inserted and then leave to one side to cool removing the vanilla skins.

For the frangipane, add 80g of the pistachios to a baking tray and into the oven for 3 minutes before removing and placing straight into a blender.  Blend the hot nuts for about 5 minutes until they turn into a pistachio paste.  You might need to stop the blender once or twice to scrape down the sides of the machine.   Then add the butter and sugar into an electric mixer and beat for about 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.  In a bowl mix together the four dry ingredients and add a tablespoon of the dry to the creamed butter followed by a spoon of the beaten eggs.  Allow this to mix in properly and then continue adding a little at a time of both the dry and wet mixes until everything is incorporated.  Next, add the lemon zest and beat in the pistachio paste until just combined.  Use a spatular to tip the frangipane into the prepared cake tin spreading the mix to the edges evenly.   Arrange the pear halves on top and I sliced the 3rd pear into quarters to make an even pattern.  Gently press the pears into the batter so they sink in.  Spoon over the left over cooking syrup from the pear saucepan and place into the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes.  The top should be golden and the pears will have suck in a little and if you insert a skewer into the frangipane it should come up nearly clean.  Use a pastry brush to gloss over with a little apricot jam and sprinkle with leftover chopped pistachios.  This cake will keep for about 3 days stored in a cool dry place covered.

Here’s to the Venice Simplon – Orient Express!  Click here to read more about this iconic train:

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