- For the sweet shortcrust pastry
200g/7oz plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
100g/3½oz unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1cm/½in cubes
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
- For the filling
200g/7oz dates, stones removed, roughly chopped
150ml/5½fl oz full-fat milk
3 ripe medium pears (approximately 500g/1lb 2oz), peeled, quartered and cored
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g/3½oz plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g/1¾oz ground almonds
2 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp treacle
100g/3½oz shelled cobnuts or hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- For the toffee sauce
200g/7oz light muscovado sugar
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
- 250ml/9fl oz double cream
- To make the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in lightly with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, do this in a food processor and then transfer to a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg with the lemon juice and two tablespoons of water. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mix. Using a table knife, work the liquid into the flour to bring the pastry together. If it seems too dry, add a splash more water. When the dough begins to stick together, use your hands to gently knead it into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- For the filling, put the chopped dates and milk in a pan. Bring to the boil, and then set aside for 30 minutes to soak.
- For the toffee sauce, heat the sugar, butter and cream together in a pan over a low heat until melted and smooth, then bring to a simmer and let it bubble for five minutes to thicken. Leave to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and put a baking tray on the middle shelf to warm up.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork. Slice each quarter of pear in two. Arrange in a circular fan pattern in the tart case. Drizzle over four tablespoons of the toffee sauce and put the tart in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the filling.
- For the filling, mash the date mixture to a coarse purée with a potato masher. Tip it into a bowl with the softened butter, vanilla, flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground almonds, eggs, sugar and treacle. Whisk together with an electric whisk until just combined. Stir in the chopped nuts.
- Spoon the mixture over the pears in the pastry case, spreading it out evenly. Bake the tart on the hot baking tray for 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is well risen and browned. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
- Serve the tart warm, with clotted cream or ice cream and the rest of the toffee sauce.