Pronounced pitivyay, this French dessert's name comes from the town where it originated.
1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets from a 17.3 oz box)
4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 bunch thyme stems (about 10)
2 firm pears
Juice from 1/2 lemon
4 tbsp margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp sugar to sprinkle on top
Step 1: Put the water, sugar, vanilla and thyme branches in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, squeeze the lemon juice into a shallow bowl.
Step 2: Slice off the stem and very bottom of each pear and peel the pears. Halve them from stem to bottom. With a measuring spoon or melon-baller, scoop out the core of the pear, including the vein that runs from top to bottom; then put each half into the lemon juice and rub it all over to coat the fruit.
Step 3: When the syrup has boiled, reduce the heat so the liquid simmers and add the pear halves. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the tip of a sharp knife slides easily into the inside of one of the pear halves.
Step 4: Let the fruit cool in the saucepan. The pears may be made two days in advance and stored covered in the fridge with some of the poaching liquid.
Step 1: In a medium bowl, beat the margarine with an electric mixer on high speed until soft. Add the sugar, almond flour and flour and beat until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla.
Step 2: Increase the speed to high and beat for one minute, until the mixture is light and airy.
Step 3: Cover the cream and leave it in the fridge for up to three days, until you're ready to assemble the cake.
Step 1: Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.
Step 2: You will need two dinner plates or round baking pans, one that is about 8" in diameter and one that is 10" in diameter.
Step 3: Place a piece of parchment on the counter and sprinkle it with some flour. Unroll one sheet of puff pastry and use a rolling pin to smooth out the lines until it is larger than a 10" plate. Put the plate over the pastry and run a knife around the plate to cut out a 10" circle. Discard the trimmings.
Step 4: Take an 8" pan or plate and press it on top of the pastry to mark a smaller circle in the centre of the pastry circle, or use a dull knife to score the circle without cutting through it. Set it aside.
Step 5: On another piece of parchment paper, roll out the second sheet of pastry the same way you rolled out the first one. Make sure to lift the dough off the parchment from time to time and sprinkle some flour underneath it so that it doesn't stick to the parchment. Place a 10" plate on top and cut out another 10" circle.
Assemble The Cake:
Step 1: Remove the almond cream from the fridge. Lift the pear halves out of the syrup and place them on paper towels to dry.
Step 2: Slice the pears the long way into 1/4" slices.
Step 3: Brush the beaten egg on the 2" border made between the scored circle and the outer edge of the puff pastry. Using a silicone spatula, spread the almond cream on the circle inside of the egg-brushed border (not on the border). Try to spread it as evenly as possible.
Step 4: Place the pear slices cut side down on top of the almond cream, overlapping if necessary to use up most of them.
Step 5: With your hand under the parchment, gently flip the second pastry circle over on top of the almond cream. Peel off the parchment and stretch the dough so that you can press the edges of the two pastry sheets together to seal the top and bottom pieces. Pinch to seal tightly.
Step 6: Place your 8" plate or pan on top of the pastry, and use the back of a knife to score but not cut a circle around the filled centre so you have a border around the part that contains the cream filling. Use a knife to cut a scalloped pattern on the border, being careful not to cut the two pastry sheets where the filling is.
Step 7: Use a knife to mark but not cut a pattern on top of the pastry, by holding the tip of the back of the knife in the centre and marking curves from the centre to the inside border. Brush the cake with the beaten egg.
Step 8: Reserve the egg to brush the top again before baking. Place the pan with the cake into the freezer for 20 minutes.
Step 9: Preheat oven to 450°F.
Step 10: Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and brush the dough again with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the top with 2 tsp of sugar. Bake for 15 minutes.
Step 11: Reduce the temperature to 400°F and bake another 25 - 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve slices warm or at room temperature. Store covered in plastic at room temperature for up to three days.
See more recipes from The Holiday Kosher Baker.
Reprinted with permission from The Holiday Kosher Baker (2013, Sterling).