Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Easy as Pie!

Sfogliatelle Speziate di Pera, Mandorla & Uvetta
Pear, Almond, Raisin & Spice Puff-Pastries


Sweet, but not too sweet, delicious, but totally delicious- that's what these little "hand-pies" were! I do love my sweet treats- but I do find that they are often simply TOO sweet, or too rich for my liking. It is easy to load things with sugar and butter and cream and to pat ourselves on the back for doing so- me? I find that a little bit "meh"- I think it makes for much more interesting eating when the individual flavors of the ingredients get to maintain their own character and to stand out on their own. There- I've said it!

In fact, the only sugar I added to these pies was the dusting of powdered sugar at the end- which, believe it or not folks, is not sonly decorative, but it is actually sweet too! Although, if it is sprinkled over something that is already overpoweringly sweet- you would never know! Haha!


These made such a lovely breakfast treat this Sunday morning... and actually- a lovely afternoon teatime treat as well, now you come to mention it! They were filled with pear, almonds, raisins and delicious spices... which of course are already exciting enough in themselves!


My ingredients to make 4 hand-pies were, 1 roll of puff-pastry, 1 pear, 1 handful raisins, 1 handful slivered almonds, 1 cupful ground almonds and of course the spices: coriander, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.


Of course, when you are making your pies, you are obviously free to add sugar, honey or whatever other sweetener you may prefer to the filling... and of course, it does also depend on how sweet the pear you use happens to be- but like I said, it's about balance, so taste that pear and follow your instinct! I will trust you!


A little spice will go a long way- it will also make your pastries taste amazing! Especially the coriander, which is an absolutely perfect partner for pear! So, before I tell you how to put these beauties together- go and turn on your ovens and get them nice and hot- you will have these prepared in no time!


I used 1 segment of star anise, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seed, 2 cardamom pods, 1 clove- and "cheated" by using cinnamon powder! I just didn't have any in stick form- and it would have been pulverized anyway! So yes, they all got ground up finely using a mortar and pestle.


Next, I grated the pear and added the other ingredients to it- the ground almonds, the slivered almonds, the raisins and the spices.


I stirred them together thoroughly and allowed them to sit for a few minutes. which gave the ground almonds time to soak up the juices from the pear- which is exactly what their purpose is. Nobody wants a soggy pie- so if the thing that stops it from being soggy actually tastes terrific- you are onto a good thing!


You can cut your pies into any shape- crazily enough, I simply cut around the grater I used to prepare my pear with and opted for an oval form! The important... no, VERY important thing to remember is to use a very sharp knife! It makes ALL the difference!


Fill up half of each pastry with a generous amount of filling, but still leave a decent outer edge free of filling so that you can seal it.


Go on- add plenty! It's all good healthy stuff in there after all!


All you need to do now is to fold the pastries shut and to press down the edges, simply using a fork, Once you have done that, give each one a snip with a pair of scissors, which not only looks pretty, but will also allow the steam that builds up beneath the crust as the pie bakes to escape.


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°C for 20-25 minutes until they are wonderfully puffed-up and beautifully golden brown... not to mention smelling as if they had just floated down from heaven! I kid you not!


It can sometimes be so easy to make something that looks so perfect! Thank goodness! haha!


All that remains to be said is simply "Enjoy!"- and I really hope that you do!

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