It is a thing of beauty.
3 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
3 ripe but firm pears, preferably Bosc, peeled, quartered and cored
Peel of 1 orange, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 Tbs. very cold water
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. triple sec
Pinch of kosher salt
To poach the pears, cut a circle of parchment paper that will fit in a medium saucepan. Cut a small circle in the middle of the parchment. In the saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pears and orange peel. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a paring knife; add the pod and seeds to the saucepan. Lay the parchment in the saucepan to submerge the pears. Adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers gently and poach the pears until just tender, about 15 minutes. Let the pears cool in the poaching liquid.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Makes enough dough for one 9-inch single-crust pie or one 10-inch galette.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch round. Transfer to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and ease the dough into the pan. Trim away any excess dough. Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is dried out and just starting to color a bit, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Let the crust cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Cut each pear quarter lengthwise into 4 slices, then lay most of the pear slices in the crust in an overlapping circle close to the rim. Use the remaining slices to fill the middle.
In a bowl, beat together the egg and the 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale. Beat in the flour and then the cream, vanilla and salt. Pour the custard evenly over the pears. Bake until the custard starts to puff up, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the 1 Tbs. sugar over the top of the tart. Continue to bake until the custard is set and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool until warm or room temperature before slicing and serving.
I used this recipe with some slight changes.