For the crust 1¼ cups pastry flour (or substitute all-purpose) Pinch of salt 8 tbs cold unsalted butter ¼ cup water
For the pears 3 cups water ¾ cup sugar 3 ripe but firm pears, quartered and cored Peel of 1 orange, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler Half a vanilla bean
For the rest 1 egg ½ cup plus 1 tbs granulated sugar 3 tbs. all-purpose flour ½ cup half-and-half 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 2 tbs brandy (optional) Pinch of salt ¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted Make the dough. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter, and pulse until the butter is about the size of small peas in the flour. Add most of the cold water, and pulse a few times. Check the dough by squeezing a small fistful. If the dough holds together, it's ready. If it's still too dry, sprinkle in a few drops of water and pulse a few times, then test it again. Don't overmix the dough or add too much water, or it will be tough.