For the pastry:
- 110g plain flour
- 60g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
For the topping:
- 150g unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 star anise
- 3 cloves
- half teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 pears
- Crème fraîche or cream to serve
- Sift the flour into a bowl with a seasoning of salt. Add the butter and rub lightly with your fingers. Add the egg yolk and knead as lightly as possible to bring everything together. You may need a little cold water, but be sparing. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Roll out on a lightly floured board to roughly the same diameter as your pan, cover with two sheets of cling film and return to the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Put the butter and sugar into a small round ovenproof pan that will tightly accommodate the apples. Place the pan over a moderate heat and cook until the sugar starts to caramelise and turn a darkish brown. It is often hard to see just how brown the caramel is but don’t be timid, if the mixture doesn’t turn a dark nut brown the tart will taste too sweet. Scatter over the star anise and cloves and sprinkle over the cinnamon.
- Peel, core and halve the apples and place these, cut side up on top of the caramel mixture. Place the pastry on top, don’t worry if it sticks out over the edges a bit, simply tuck inside the tin. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about half an hour. Put a plate over the pan and then invert it quickly. Watch out for hot caramelised pear juices. Serve with the cream or crème fraîche.