Tag Archives: pastry

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The Apple Pie Project: English

This months Apple Pie Project goes to my home country, England. Although the apple pie is seen as an American symbol, in England it is an historic dish which has been eaten for centuries. The British apple pie also has many differences to it’s American counterpart. Instead of a super sweet filing, the English pie is more tart and sour with a hint of sweetness, using good old large cooking apples, such as the Bramley. This apple is a vibrant green, the size of a fist (or larger), sour and juicy. Once the Bramley apple has been cooked its keeps a more stable form, rather than turning mushy, being hailed the apple ‘King of Covent Garden’.

I have decided to use a very famous British cookery writers recipe to illustrate the quintessential  English apple pie. Mrs Beeton produced a very famous Victorian book on how to run the perfect household, and within it holds a wonderful collection of recipes, with useful hints and tips. Her apple pie recipe is simple, straight to the point and flawless, which for me represents traditional English cookery at its best. I also recommend every cook to own the book. (^-^)

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Pecan Pie

Since watching Gone with The Wind  and reading Cold Mountain for the first time last year the American South has become an intriguing obsession, especially when it comes to food. I have never been to the south but the romantic descriptions of sweet tea, salt pork, red eye gravy and fried chicken skins makes my mouth water. So today i decided to bake something I have never tried or made before, Pecan Pie. First of all finding dark corn syrup in rainy Cambridge was my first mission, which i failed and had to settle for golden syrup, corn syrup can only be bought in the UK online or in specialist stores. I used a mixture of different recipes I have picked up and tried to create my own… which turned out not so bad. (^-^)

What You Need:

Pastry: 1 egg, 175g butter, 250g plain flour, 20g caster sugar, 1 tbsp water

Filling: 100g pecans, 50g butter, 3 large eggs, grind of salt, 250ml golden syrup, 25ml apricot brandy, 200g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180c.

In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and rub in the butter to create bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg and water and combine with a round edged knife in cutting motions. Once into a ball, kneed lightly on a floured surface and refrigerate for 10mins. Then roll out the pastry to fit the case and refrigerate for a further 20mins.

For the filling, add the syrup, sugar and salt to a pan and melt down and boil. Set aside. Whisk three eggs in a heatproof bowl and pour in the slightly cooled mixture. Over a tray of boiling water place the bowl of mixture into the bath and stir vigourously making sure it is combined well, then adding the butter and brandy. Place the chopped pecans into the refrigerated pastry case and pour over the warm mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mins or until dark brown. Then serve.

Yum.

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The Apple Pie Project: French

This month i decided to go for the home of fantastic dessert and Patisseries, France. Tarte Tatin is a sweet, simple and rustic style apple tart which is made upside down in a frying pan and then baked in the oven. This is also an unusual dish as in France hot desserts are rare, and this one comes with a fantastic story. The origins of this tart are that two sisters made the dish by mistake by cooking apples for an apple pie for too long in a pan, quick thinking led to adding a pastry top to the pan and then baking it in the oven, the results a sticky chewy caramel, accompanied by oval shaped apples and a thin crisp pastry base.  The French version of such a classic dish is so unique in flavour and look, that it’s defintaly an all time favorite.

What You Need:

Pastry: 2 egg yolks, 150g plain flour, 25g sugar, 100g butter

Filling: 5 eating apples, peels and cored (granny smith), 50g Butter, 100g sugar

Combine the flour and butter, to form bread crumbs and then add the sugar. Mix in the egg yolks with a knife and combine the ingredients until it forms a dough. Lightly need and the refrigerate for 20mins.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

In a nonstick frying pan with a metal handle, add the sugar and butter and heat on med/low until a nice yellow syrup has formed. Add the apples curve-side down and heat for 15mins, until they are golden brown and the syrup has turned to a brown sticky caramel.  Take the chilled pasty and roll out to fit the pan, place the pastry on top of the apple mixture and fold excess down the sides of the pan. Place in the oven for 20mins on 200C and then a further 20mins on 150c. Turn out onto a try or large plate and eat warm.

Enjoy.

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Mince Pies

So here is what i made with my mincemeat filling from before. What a perfect traditional christmas treat. Especially served hot with brandy butter and a glass of baileys. Simply follow my mincemeat recipe, incase in any pastry type of your choice, glaze with a beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 mins on 180C, eat warm or cold. Good for freezing and using when you want, or even leave a few out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Seasonal cheer.

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The Apple Pie Project: American

There is always something warming and reassuring about a home baked apple pie. The simplicity of the filling and the crispy crust. As this is such a popular dish around the world there are also many different types and ways to make such a traditional dish. Although the first apple pie came from Europe, America and the apple pie has become an iconic within American culture. Every month I want to try out a different apple pie recipe and this month its the American apple pie. This recipe is Martha Stewarts ‘Mile High Apple Pie’. To me this seems typical american style, piled high, large and excessive, but also rich, flavoursome and made by a true american icon (for british readers I would say Martha Stewart is the equivalent of Delia Smith infused with Philip Green). Here’s how it Went:

Her recipe was really easy to follow, once i had converted all  the measurements to kg. The pastry worked really well and was very easy to roll out and cut. The size really is amazing and quite impressive, this would be a a perfect end to a dinner party, and to impress your guest. The recipe is also very sweet, which is quite different to a British style apple pie where the apples are more sour and less sugar is used.

You can find this recipe here.

Enjoy. (^-^)

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December Cook of the Month: Blueberry Tart

Decembers ‘Cook of the Month’ comes form the cookery book ‘The French Kitchen’ (2002, Doubleday, London) , by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. Harris is also the author of Chocolat, so if you have read the book you can imagine how scrumptious and inviting the recipes, language and photos are. This book also does not disappoint with a chocolate section. The one recipe that did stand out for me was a Blueberry Tart, which in the book looks like it came straight out of boulangerie.

So i went and picked up some fresh blueberries from the city market yesterday. I would of had more blueberries in the tart if someone in the night didn’t eat them! But anyway, there was enough for what I want to do. What is great about this recipe is that so far this is the best pastry I have ever tried to make, Pâte Brisée. This is a nice light, buttery and flakey pastry which was so easy to work with, roll and bake.

The recipe was easy to follow but it can also be adapted for season and taste. This would be great to substitute the blueberries with blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries or even strawberries. I will also be using the Pâte Brisée recipe again for the future. You can find the recipe here or buy the book (it’s worth it). In the end it tasted great, was easy to make and I learnt something new… a perfect ‘Cook of the Month’.

“Serve cold, if you can wait.” (^-^)

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