Instead of making traditional pastry and rolling it out to top a pie dish, this rich almond shortcrust is simply patted out or rolled directly on a baking sheet, to be cut into portions after baking and served with delicious poached fruit. This way you get to enjoy more fruit than can fit into a typical pie dish.
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Almond shortcrust pastry
150 g (5½ oz) plain flour
75 g (2½ oz) unsalted butter
30 g (1 oz) caster sugar
2 tbsp ground almonds
few drops of pure almond extract
4 dessert pears
450 ml (15 fl oz) clear apple juice
150 g (5½ oz) blueberries
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Method Prep:25min › Cook:20min › Ready in:45min
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). To make the pastry, put the flour, butter, sugar, ground almonds, almond extract and egg into a food processor. Process until the mixture is crumb-like and beginning to come together. Add a few drops of water if necessary. Alternatively, put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together gently with your fingertips.
Transfer the crumbly dough to the centre of a baking tray lined with non-stick paper or a lining sheet. Pat out or roll out to form a circle about 20 cm (8 in) in diameter. Pinch the edges to scallop them and mark into 12 wedges. Prick all over with a fork.
Place the baking tray in the oven and bake the pastry for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cut through the marked lines to separate the wedges.
While the pastry is baking, peel the pears, cut each one into quarters and remove the core. Put the pears in a large saucepan. Pour over the apple juice and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 7–10 minutes or until the pears are almost tender. Add the blueberries and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the juices run and the pears take on the rich purple colour of the blueberries.
With a draining spoon, lift the pears and blueberries out onto a serving dish or individual serving plates. Raise the heat under the saucepan and boil to reduce the fruit juice to about 175 ml (6 fl oz). Pour over the fruit. Serve each portion of fruit with 2 pastry wedges.
Some more ideas
Many other seasonal fruit can be given a similar treatment. Apples and blackberries are a traditional partnership. * Use a compote of 340 g (12 oz) mixed dried fruit poached in apple or orange juice with chopped stem ginger; replace the almond extract in the pastry with 1 tsp ground ginger. * Instead of making a pastry circle and marking it into wedges, press the pastry out into a square shape and mark into oblongs or triangles, or cut out small discs.
Blueberries, like all berries, are rich in vitamin C. They also provide beta-carotene. Both vitamin C and beta-carotene are very valuable antioxidants. They work together to fight harmful free radicals. * When ripe, pears are deliciously sweet and full of natural sugars, so they can be used to add sweetness to desserts without adding refined sugar.