Pear & Almond Turnovers

The other day I woke up to find that there were no eggs for my breakfast, no sardines for my toast and nothing left-overish to heat up. With a rainy morning of admin ahead of me, the need for comfort was strong. A cup of almond rooibos in hand, I contemplated the barely stocked larder and my eye fell on a couple of ripe british conference pears, bought the week before as bullets and now at the peak of their loveliness. There at the back of the fridge was a piece of pastry left over from a teaching day. My heart lifted at once!

The rest as they say, is history. Some tender shortcrust pastry folded over a simple filling and offered up to the oven as I pottered happily, my tummy occasionally growling with anticipation.

Barely half an hour later I drew a pair of golden turnovers from the oven and the kitchen was filled with the soothing scent of warm pear and almond. The baking tray was glossy with a slick of butter that had oozed from the centre of the turnover, crisping the base of the pastry on the way.

I broke off a corner and popped it in my mouth, still almost too hot, and breathed out a steamy, pear sweet sigh. I cracked my novel and thanked the universe for a rainy morning and no eggs.

If you have been on any of my courses I will have no doubt taught you my shortcrust pastry recipe. I made mine for this one with sorghum and a little buckwheat and added a tsp of potato starch to the recipe, just to give it a little extra crispness. If you don't have my shortcrust recipe, use your own - it should work just fine.

I just added a couple of pinches of rapadura sugar to my turnover, but the recipe I give here is more treaty and pudding-ish. I'll let you be the judge of how much sugar you want to add, or none at all if your pears are sweet. The turnovers would also be delicious made with any seasonal berries, or rhubarb, depending on what you can find in season.

Pear and Almond Turnovers      makes about 4

1 quantity                  gluten free shortcrust pastry

3                                  medium sized pears
100g                           salted butter
75g                              light muscovado or rapadura sugar
50g                             ground almonds
2 tsp                           vanilla extract

Make your pastry and while it chills, make up your filling.

Peel and chop the pears into small dice. Cut the cold butter into roughly the same size dice.

Add ground almonds, sugar and vanilla extract to the butter and turn gently to coat the butter lumps completely, separating the lumps as you go. Mix in the pear and use immediately.

Roll out half the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment to a thickness of 5-6mm. 

Lift off the top sheet and cut the pastry into two circles using a side plate (about 15cm diameter) and sharp knife. Smaller pasties are easier to control, so you might like to choose a smaller plate and make more pasties.

Peel off the excess pastry, leaving the circle on the sheet. Make a little half moon shape of filling on one side of the circle, leaving a 1.5cm border around the edge. Don’t be tempted to put too much filling in, or your turnover won’t close!

Damp the outside edge of the circle with fingers dipped into water. Put your hand under the paper, bring the empty side of the pastry up over the filling and press it down gently – using the paper to help you guide the pastry and stop it cracking. Push the filling back into the turnover if it starts to escape. Crimp the edges of the turnover with a fork, to ensure it stays closed.

Make a couple of slashes in the top of your turnover and egg or milk wash if you like – to give the pastry some colour and a sheen. An egg wash can also help keep a slightly crumbly turnover together!

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180ºC, or until the pastry is crisp underneath and golden brown around the edges. Cool on a rack or eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Be careful about moving them while they are still hot, as the pastry will firm up as it cools.