Packham pears have their origins in Australia - developed by Charles Packham in 1896, they are the product of crossing William and Bell pears. Appearance wise, they are largish and knobbly and when ripening, the skin turns from light green to light yellow. The flesh is white and is quite juicy and sweet. The season runs from Autumn to Spring so at this time of the year they are in plentiful supply.
Since I've got an excess of pears I decided to make a dish that used a lot of pears. Initially the idea was to make something like a traditional apple pie - you know the type, a proper deep dish pie with pastry case and lid. Unfortunately I found that when I used pears I'd get an excess of juice that would ooze out as soon as I cut the first piece resulting in the dreaded "soggy bottom".
After a bit of thought, I decided to replace the pastry top with a crumble topping - I reasoned that this would work as the topping is porous and would allow the juices to evaporate slightly and the oats in the crumble would act as a sponge, also removing those excess juices. The result of this experiment - success!
[Makes 1x18cm pie]
sweet shortcrust pastry
pears, peeled, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
50 grams self-raising flour
80 grams rolled oats
50 grams brown sugar
80 grams melted butter, cooled
50 grams slivered almonds, chopped
Butter and flour an 18cm loose bottomed pie tin and then line the case with pastry - let it rest half an hour in the fridge before proceeding.
Place the pear pieces into a bowl and sprinkle over with a couple of spoonfuls of caster sugar, toss well and then set it aside - this will start to release some of the pears juices.
Remove the pastry case from the fridge and sprinkle the base with almond meal - this will also help to soak the juices and prevent the pastry from becoming soggy.
Fill the pie with the pear pieces being careful to leave the released juices in the bowl.
Prepare the topping:
Place the flour, oats, brown sugar and almonds into a bowl - give it a brief stir and then pour over the melted butter and reserved pears juices - continue mixing until the liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pears.
Place the pan on an pre-heated oven tray (160°C) and bake until the pastry is golden and cooked through - this should take around 45 to 60 minutes.
Let the pie cool slightly in the pan before removing.
The pie can be served warm or cold - as you can see, the pear pieces are soft but not mushy and still hold their shape and are held together by the thickened pear juices.