vendredi 22 octobre 2010


I used to dislike the Bourdaloue pie before I started pastry making. I recall having it as a child for desert at the school cafeteria. I thought it was too sweet, too heavy and overall hated the texture of canned poached pears. I kept for years the idea that Bourdaloue was old fashioned,"étouffe chrétien" and that one shouldn't bother trying to make something good out of it. It was only many years after that I discovered that Bourdaloue could be such a tasty and versatile desert. It was only after tasting several wonderful Bourdaloues such as Gerard Mulot 's, my former chef, Carl Marletti's or l'Ecureuil s'(lovely presentation, check their site by the way) or even simply having pears poached in wine with spice that I realized how one could make great deserts with poached pears. The possibilities of great deserts with pears are so numerous: roasted, tartar, poached, as chips, in a mousse, as a compote or as an insert in an entremet , although I am not quite sure pears really stand deep freezing well .

But let's stay focussed, shall we, and let's not forget the theme of this post: the lovely Bourdaloue.

First of all, for your concern (common knowledge) in the same way that Gustave Flaubert never created the choux pastry Salammbô, Louis Bourdaloue, the famous 17th century preacher, never pondered over the subtle flavors of pears and almond. Louis was probably way too busy at his time giving sermons in front of the French court. The name of this tart was simply given after the name of an eponymous street in the 9th district of Paris in which in the 19th century was established the pastry maker Mr Fasquelle to whom we owe this classical desert. At the time Mr Fasquelle, as to honour the famous religious orator, decorated his tart with a cross made out of macaron crumbs. One must note that what was called "macaron" at the time is what we nowadays refer to as "macaron de Nancy" but I will have to check further on that . Anyway, pastry makers have long forgotten about this macaron cross and nowadays the pie consists in a tart shell (sweet pastry dough or flaky dough ), almond cream or frangipane (Ahh! l' ancestrale polémique. Quelle provocatrice je fais ! Mais nous soulèverons cette question une autre fois ) , poached pears and, for decoration, almond effilées, glazing or confectioner's sugar.

As I said before, this pie can very easily be screwed up and fall in the range of horribly heavy disgusting and boring deserts. Bourdaloue is like a slightly tacky fashion accessory (take Hermès* bright pink Kelly bag, for example) ; if worn well it can look wonderful, if worn with the wrong things and the wrong way it is outrageously overdone. Beware of the "fashion" faux pas!

First of all, I prefer to use "pâte à foncer" (more than sweet pastry dough it is less sweet (the tart being it self very sweet) and I love its cripsy flaky texture in contrast with the tenderness of almond cream. For my Bourdaloue, I have used Gérard Mulot's "pâte à foncer "and , as Yukiko , the tourière (dough maker in a pastry lab) there, once told me, the dough almost tastes like "biscuit apéritif". You can find great recipes in all sorts of books and I will be giving you one below.

For the almond cream you can use any recipe you like as long you use good ingredients and flavor it with rum.

Then, last but not least, the poached pears. One must be very careful and picky about the quality and the variety of pears used : "commices" are great so are the red "William" and the fabulous "passe-crassanes". The pears must be ripe but not too soft since they will have to stand being cooked twice, right ? (once when they are poached, and then whent hey are baked in the oven). Personally, I have used "commices" and poached them in vanilla syrup flavored with Williamine (a pear alcohol).

*About "Hermé for Hermès ", new post coming soon !

recipe for the "pâte à foncer"

250g of flour
10g of sugar
200g butter
4g of salt
1 egg yolk
25g of milk
In a stand mixer with a paddle cream the butter.Add the eggs and milk saltand sugar. Finally add the flower (make sure not to over mix the dough).

recipe for the poached pears

4 pears peeled cut in halves seeds removed
1/2 lemon(cover immediatly the pears with lemon jus so that they won't darken.)
1 vanila bean split
1 tablespoon Williamine
1/2 liter of water
250g of sugar
poach until the tender

- Gérard Mulot 76 rue de Seine 75006Paris

-Carl Marletti 51 rue Censier 75005 Paris

-Lecureuil 96 rue de lévis 75017 Paris

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