Poached pears (prepared the day before)
Remove the cores from the pears. Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a pan, simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vanilla seeds, star anise, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and pears, simmer over a low heat for approx. 15 mins., turning the pears once. Leave the pears to cool in the poaching liquid. Place the pears in an airtight container, pour the poaching liquid over the top. Cover the tart and refrigerate overnight.
Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the margarine and rub together by hand to form an even, crumbly mixture. Pour in the water and mix quickly to form a soft dough; do not knead. Flatten the dough, cover and chill for approx. 30 mins.
To blind bake
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle (approx. 20 cm in diameter), place in the prepared tin, prick firmly with a fork. Cover the pastry base with baking paper, weigh down with dried pulses.
Blind bake for approx. 10 mins. in the lower half of an oven preheated to 180°C. Remove from the oven, remove the baking paper and pulses, bake the tart base for a further 10 mins. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, remove from the tin, leave to cool completely on a rack.
Using the whisk on a hand mixer, beat the margarine and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Stir in the apple sauce, almond milk, almond extract and lemon zest. Mix the almonds, flour, baking powder and cornflour, add to the mixture and mix in. Spread the filling over the pastry base. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, drain, cut the pears crosswise into slices, arrange on top of the filling, scatter the flaked almonds on top.
Return to the oven
Approx. 45 mins. in the lower half of an oven preheated to 180°C. Remove the tart, leave to cool, dust with icing sugar.