Friday, December 22, 2017

Quiche Lorraine

More pastry practice! This time a savoury recipe, and who doesn't like a good quiche lorraine? This recipe is from BBC Good Food again (love the magazine) and is really rich and creamy.

For the pastry
175g plain flour
100g Cold butter cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk

For the filling
200g lardons
50g Gruyere cheese
200mls creme fraiche
200mls double cream
3 eggs, well beaten
pinch ground nutmeg

  • For the pastry, put the flour, butter, egg yolk and 4 tsp cold water into a food processor.  Using the pulse button process until the mix binds (alternatively mix with stand mixer or rub the butter into the flour with your hands and stir in the egg yolk).  Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather into a smooth ball then roll out as thinly as you can (controversially don't rest the pastry!)  Line a 23 x 2.5cm loose bottomed fluted flan tin, easing the pastry into the base. Trim the pastry edges with scissors (save the trimmings) so it sits slightly above the tin (if it shrinks it shouldn't now go below the level on the tin).  Press the pastry into the flutes, lightly prick the base with a fork (called docking) and chill for 10mins.  Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat to 200c/180c fan/gas 6.
  • Line the pastry case with foil, shiny side down, fill with dry beans and bake on the hot sheet for 15mins.  Remove foil and beans and bake for 4-5mins more until the pastry is pale and golden.  If you notice any small holes or cracks patch up with pastry trimmings.  You can make up to this point a day ahead.
  • Whilst the pastry cooks prepare the filling.  Heat a small frying pan, tip in the lardons and fry for a couple of mins,  Drain off any liquid that comes out, then continue cooking until the lardons just start to colour, but arn't crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Cut three quarters of the cheese into small cubes and finely grate the rest.  Scatter the diced cheese and fried lardons over the bottom of the pastry case.
  • Using a spoon beat the creme fraiche to slacken it, then slowly beat in the double cream. Mix in the beaten eggs.  Season (you wont need much salt due to the lardons) and add the nutmeg.  Pour three quarters of the filling into the pastry case.
  • Half pull the oven shelf out and put the flan tin on the baking sheet.  Quickly pour the rest of the filling into the pastry case-you get it right to the top this way.  Scatter the grated cheese over the top, then carefully push the shelf back into the oven (having someone else to help really makes this easier!).  Lower the oven temp to 190c/170c fan/gas 5.  Bake for about 25mins or until golden and softly set (the centre should not feel too firm).  Let the quiche settle for 4-5 mins, then remove from the tin.  Serve freshly baked, but it's also good cold.
This recipe turned out really well; it tasted really good.  I did get some pastry shrinkage, but leaving the excess pastry attached sorted that out. Also, I nearly had a disaster when taking the pastry case out of the oven after blind baking it, it came out of the case, so I had to carefully slot it back in, not easy when wearing oven gloves... but I'll definitely be making this recipe again.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mince Pies

Because it's just not Christmas without mince pies! And it's a good opportunity to practice sweet shortcrust pastry.  This time I tried Paul Holywood's pastry recipe, which has a very high fat to flour ratio, making for a slightly more sticky dough that needs a bit of patience to work with as it tears quite easily, but equally it's easy to pat it back together again.   I was inspired by Nigella to top my pies with cut out shapes rather than traditional lids.  However, the high butter content makes the cut pastry loose its shape a bit when baked, so my nice sharp snowflakes look a bit melty on baking.  I must admit I did cheat and use store bought mincemeat, but I actually really like the shop bought kind so what the hey!

Large jar of mincemeat, I used Waitrose 800g jar
375g plain flour
260g butter
125g caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1 large egg beaten

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs-I used my stand mixer to do this.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Beat the egg and sprinkle over the flour mixture.
  • Use a knife to stir the mixture until it clumps together, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead gently into a smooth paste.  Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30mins.
  • Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7
  • Once rested, cut the dough in half and roll out to 3mm thickness.  Using a round cutter, cut out rounds for the pie bases. Press gently into the muffin trays.
  • Fill the pastry cases with the mincemeat.
  • Reroll the pastry and cut out snowflakes or ivy leaves and top the pies with them.
  • Continue cutting out the pastry til it is all used, I got 14 pies from this quantity of pastry.
  • Brush the tops with egg wash or milk.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 mins until golden brown, then leave to cool before turning out of the tins.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tarte au Citron

In my continuing attempt to master pastry I decided to make a Tarte au Citron this week.  I used the recipe from my Leith's Baking Bible but instead of making a Pate Sucree I used the sweet rich shortcrust pastry recipe as its a lot simpler! The Pate Sucree recipe involves many more complicated steps and french terms, when I have the hang of shortcrust I may try it, but not just yet...

For the Sweet Rich shortcrust Pastry for a 20cm/8inch tart tin
170g/6oz plain flour
A pinch of salt
100g/3 1/2oz cold butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
200g/7oz caster sugar
150ml/ 5 fl oz double cream
grated zest and juice of two lemons

To finish
icing sugar, sifted

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and add to the flour.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour, either by hand, or in a food processor or a stand mixture.
  3. Stop when the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Mix the egg yolk with the water and sprinkle over the flour mixture
  4. Stir with a knife until the mixture begins to clump together.  If the mixture is still a little dry sprinkle in a little more water.
  5. Bring the mixture together with you hands and gently press into a smooth paste. Form into a disc, cover in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30mins
  6. Once rested, take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out onto a lightly floured surface or a piece of bake-o-glide.
  7. Line an 8 inch tart tin with the pastry and return it to the fridge to rest again for another 30mins
  8. Preheat the oven to 190C/ Fan 170 
  9. Line the chilled pastry shell with baking parchment and fill with baking beans and blind bake for 15 mins
  10. Remove the beans and bake again for 5-10mins until the pastry is golden and sandy to touch.
  11. Lower the oven temperature to 170c/Fan 150
  12. Mix the eggs, yolk and sugar together until smooth, then strain through a sieve to remove any eggy threads.  Stir in the cream.  
  13. Add the lemon zest and juice; the mixture will thicken considerable.
  14. Pour the lemon filling into the pastry case and bake for 50mins until almost set.  Check the tart periodically and if the pastry and filling is starting to brown too much cover with foil.  Be careful not to let the foil touch the filling as it will stick.
  15. When the tart is cooked remove the tart tin and leave to cool
  16. To serve dust thickly with icing sugar and serve with cream. 

I was quite pleased with how the tart turned out, the pastry was nice and short with no soggy bottom, and it certainly tasted good.  Sadly, the foil I covered the tart with to prevent it burning got stuck to the filling so the surface was a bit ruffled up, but a good helping of icing sugar helps cover it up.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Plum and Marzipan Pie

I like to think that I am a pretty proficient baker, but I do have a kryptonite.... pastry.  It's a completely unreasonable fear, as all pastry is, is a mixture of fat, flour and water - fundamentally not scary at all!  But I've had a few bad experiences with pastry not working and I must admit that I usually just buy pastry ready made cos its easier.... But no more! I refuse to be scared of a food, so I am going to practice making pastry til I can do it properly (and I'll get pie!), it shall be my pastry project.  I've managed a pecan pie and a lemon meringue pie so far, but I thought I'd do a blog about a lovely pie I found in my BBC Goodfood magazine which uses sweet shortcrust pastry.  It's a Plum and marzipan pie, two of my favorite things.

For the pastry
225g cold unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
350g plain flour
50g icing sugar
1 large egg yolk (save the white for brushing the pastry)

For the filling
1kg plums (Victoria or Excalibar plums are delicious if you can find them), halved, stoned, then halved again
100g golden caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp ground almonds or fine polenta
1 tsp almond extract
200g marzipan, chopped into 1½ cm cubes
egg white, for brushing (reserved from making the pastry)
cream or ice cream, to serve

  1. Put the butter and flour in a food processor with 1/4 tsp salt and blend until the mixture resembles damp breadcrumbs.  Or do this by rubbing the butter and flour together in a big bowl with your fingertips. (Or you can use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment).  Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk with 2 tbsp ice cold water and drizzle over the flour mixture.  Stir with a knife to blend the mixture until it starts to form larger clumps.  If the mixture is too dry add a little more water a tsp at a time.
  3. Tip out onto a work surface and briefly knead the dough to bring it together as a smooth ball.  Avoid overworking or it will become tough.  Flatten the dough into a puck shape and wrap well in cling film.  Chill for at least 30 mins, or for up to two days, or freeze for 2 months.
  4. Tip the plum,s sugar and cornflour into a large pan and toss to coat.  Simmer for 3-5mins stirring now and then, until the plums have just begun to soften.  Tip them into a sieve suspended over a large bowl and leave for 30 mins - 1 hour stirring every 10mins, until the juice has all collected in the bowl.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 2 pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. Re-wrap the smaller piece of dough and set aside.  On a lightly floured surface (or a piece of bake-o-glide, seriously nothing gets stuck to it!) roll out the dough to the thickness of a 50piece, or until large enough to line the base of your pie plate or tin, with a little pastry overhanging.  Roll the dough on your rolling pin and lift onto the plate or tin and press it well into the corners.  Scatter the almonds or polenta over the base.
  6. Stir 2 tbsp of the strained plum juice and the almond extract into the plums.  Spoon the filling into the pie dish, dotting the marzipan between the layers of plums as you go.  Heat the oven to 190c/170c fan/ gas mark5 and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
  7. Top the pie with a lattice crust. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into 1.5cm wide strips.  You can see step by step images on creating a lattice crust here.  First, arrange the pastry strips on top of your pie, with a small space between each one.  Fold back alternate strips from the centre then lay a strip across the middle near the folds.  Next flip the folded strips back to cover the middle pastry strip.  Fold back the strips that are woven under the middle piece.  Lay another strip across the middle and flip alternate strips back again.  Repeat until you have a woven pattern.
  8. Once covered, whisk the reserved egg white and brush over the pastry/  Scatter with a little extra sugar and bake for 45 mins until golden and bubbling.  Cool for 10mins before serving with cream or ice cream.
Now I must admit I got a bit of pastry shrinkage on baking, which probably means I added a bit too much water when making the dough.  Also, the recipe does not chill the pastry once in the the dish, which I've seen recommended on other websites as helping to stabilise the dough.  Next time I'll try this and hopefully get less shrinkage.  But the pie tastes lovely and was definitely a successful attempt at sweet pastry.