For the sweet shortcrust
200g plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1cm dice
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp very cold water
For the filling
200g stoned dates, roughly chopped
150ml whole milk
3 ripe medium pears, about 500g in total
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g ground almonds
2 large eggs
100g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp treacle
100g shelled cobnuts or hazelnuts, roughly chopped
For the toffee sauce
200g light muscovado sugar
50g unsalted butter
250ml double cream
25cm loose-based fluted tart tin, 3.5cm deep
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Cobnut, Pear & Sticky Toffee Tart
Bake 40-45 minutes
Kentish cobs are cultivated hazelnuts, often larger than the wild variety, and easier to gather. Crunchy and sweet, they partner apples and pears perfectly in this autumnal, nutty, treacle tart.
1. To make the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, do this in a food processor or a mixer and then transfer to a bowl.
2. Mix the egg with the lemon juice and water. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mix. Using one hand, 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, gently knead it into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
3. 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.
4. To make the toffee sauce, heat the sugar, buttter and cream together in a pan over a low heat until melted and smooth, then bring to a simmer and let bubble for 5 minutes to thicken. Leave to cool.
5. Heat your oven to 180°C/gas 4 and put in a baking tray to warm up. Have ready a 25cm loose-based fluted tart tin, 3.5cm deep.
6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork. Peel, quarter and core the pears; slice each quarter in two. Arrange in a circular pattern in the tart case. Drizzle over 4 tbsp of the toffee sauce and place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the filling.
7. 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.
8. Spoon the date and nut mixture over the pears in the pastry case, spreading it out evenly. Bake the tart on the hot baking tray for 40-45 minutes, until the filling is well risen and browned. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
9. Serve the tart warm, with clotted cream or ice cream and the rest of the toffee sauce.
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