Rhubarb Bakewell pie

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Friday, 16 February 2018

I’m having a pie moment and according to this blog, it’s an on-going moment that has lasted four glorious months and shows no signs of ending. From the outside, this particular pie looks like it has the chicken pox virus but if you dig deeper you’ll see that it’s a Bakewell tart disguised as an American style pie (my favourite rendition of any dessert with a pastry base). What gives this pie it’s alarmingly basic ‘twist’ is that instead of using a jam on the base, as is traditional with Bakewell tart, there is a layer of beautifully pink roasted rhubarb, of which the juices are used to make the water icing that is spread on the top of the cooled frangipane topping. I loved this pie, but it’s not a dessert, so treat it as something to have a slice of next to an afternoon cuppa.



Rhubarb Bakewell pie

Makes one 9 inch pie

I’ve noticed through testing tons of pies recently, that you shouldn’t listen to a recipe that tells you to blind bake for 20 minutes unless you want a soggy bottom. I recommend 30 minutes and then gently lifting the baking beans and checking the bottom. If it’s pale or appearing raw, bake for another 5 to 10 minute until golden brown, not forgetting to foil the edges to prevent them from burning.

For the pastry
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2.5 tbsp ice cold water
For the fillngs
  • 400g rhubarb
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Zest and juice 1 orange
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g ground almonds  
  • 50g plain flour
For the topping
  • 300g icing sugar
Method
  1. Start by making the pastry. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and blitz to combine, then add the butter and pulse to breadcrumb consistency. Pour in the egg yolk and water and pulse again. As soon as a ball of dough takes shape, stop the mixer. Pour the crumbly dough onto a layer of cling film, then lift up the sides of the cling film and press together to form a disc, being careful not to overwork it. Put the dough in the fridge to rest for half an hour, or overnight.
  2. Roast the rhubarb: begin by preheating the oven to 160C/180 fan. Cut the stalks into 2 inch chunks, put in a small roasting tin and toss with the sugar, zest and orange juice. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender but on the soft side. Put the rhubarb through a sieve to separate the juice from the fruit. Don’t press down on the fruit, just let the juices run naturally – you still want some juice in there.
  3. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface, it needs to be large enough to cover a 9-inch pie plate with overhang and should be the thickness of a £2 coin. Put the dough in the pie plate and trim the edges so you have an inch of overhang. Fold the excess pastry into itself to create a thicker lip around the pie. Use your thumb and index finger to crimp the edges, then place the pie in the freezer for 20 minutes. While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 170C/190 fan. Blind bake for 30-40 minutes, remove the pie weights and reduce the oven temperature to 160C/180F. Egg wash the pastry case and put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until you see a bit of colour on the dough, then let the pie shell cool slightly and keep the oven on.
  4. Make the frangipane filling. Cream the butter and sugar for five minutes until pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each, then fold in the ground almonds and set aside.
  5. Spoon the strained rhubarb into the bottom of the pie shell to make an even layer at the bottom. You can pour a tiny bit of the juice on top if it looks a bit dry. 
  6. Fill a piping bag with the frangipane and pipe the mixture on top of the rhubarb. Doing it this way helps to prevent the rhubarb mixing with the frangipane, but you can carefully spoon it on top if you don’t have a piping bag to hand. Smooth the top, then foil the edges of the pastry and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the frangipane. Leave to cool completely.
  7. Whisk the remaining rhubarb juices with the icing sugar, adding more or less of each until you reach a thick but pourable consistency. Pour the icing over the cooled pie and spread to the edges. Sprinkle with rose pieces while the icing is wet, then, finally, serve!

Matcha buttermilk white bottom pie

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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

I am a month late to the party, but can we talk about Cat Person? You would be hard pressed to find a millennial woman who hasn’t experienced something similar, or at least can relate to a fraction of the short story. Something that maddened me most, aside from the patronising tone Robert took with Margot (oh sweetheart, oh honey), was the way Margot wanted to please Robert by giving her body away, even though she felt uncomfortable – she wanted to please him even after the attraction dissipated. How can this still be a common theme in sex, especially during those peak years of adolescence (albeit the most vulnerable years). How many more decades will go by before women finally feel like they have the confidence to say no before it’s too late, to recognise that they own their body and can do whatever they want with it, even if that means hurting someone’s feelings.

Talking of feelings, this pie will hurt yours if you don’t like the taste of matcha. I’m actually not the biggest fan, and if I were to bake this again I’d use one tablespoon instead – but I was making it with a matcha-lover in mind, so the flavour is at the forefront of this version. All of the other components, the almost savoury and deeply cocoa-y shortcrust, the white chocolate ganache bottom (inspired by four and twenty blackbird’s genius black bottom), really do act as an (enhancing) backdrop for the matcha buttermilk custard.



Matcha buttermilk white bottom pie

For the chocolate pastry
  • 370g plain flour
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 more for egg wash
  • 3-5 tbsp ice cold water

For the matcha buttermilk custard
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 tbsp fine polenta
  • ½ tbsp matcha powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 290g buttermilk
  • 40g double cream
  • 50g butter, melted and cooled

For the white bottom
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 40g double cream

Method
  1. Start by making the pastry. Put the flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a food processor and blitz to combine, then add the butter and pulse to breadcrumb consistency. Pour in the egg yolks and 3 tbsp water and pulse again, add the rest of the water if the dough is too dry. As soon as a ball of dough takes shape, stop the mixer. Pour the crumbly dough onto a layer of cling film, then lift up the sides of the cling film and press together to create a round disc, being careful not to overwork it. Put the dough in the fridge to rest for half an hour (or overnight).
  2. Make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, polenta, matcha and salt. Add the eggs and whisk again, followed by the buttermilk, cream and melted butter. Pour the mixture into a food processer or Nutribullet type vessel and blitz to remove any lumps of matcha powder. Refrigerate the mix while you roll out the dough.
  3. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface, it needs to be large enough to cover a 9-inch pie plate with overhang and should be the thickness of a £2 coin. Put the dough in the pie plate and trim the edges so you have an inch of overhang. Fold the excess pastry into itself to create a thicker lip around the pie. Use your thumb and index finger to crimp the edges, then place the pie in the freezer for 30 minutes. While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 170C/190F. Blind bake for 30 minutes, remove the pie weights and reduce the oven temperature to 160C/180F. Egg wash the pastry case and put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until you can see a bit of colour on the dough, then let the pie shell cool and reduce the oven to 120C/100F.
  4. Make the white chocolate ganache. Put the chocolate and cream in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Microwave in 10 second increments until smooth. Pour the ganache into the cooled shell and spread to the edges. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to set the ganache hard.
  5. Put the pie on a baking tray, then strain the custard straight into the pie plate and carefully put in the oven. Bake for 1-2 hours, covering the edges with foil if they are over-browning. There should be a slight wobble in the middle but the sides should be set. Let the pie cool completely before slicing and demolishing.

Pear, cardamom and chocolate rustic tart

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017


I was listening to a podcast the other day that started by saying that every plate of food has a story. If you asked me, what is the story of my rustic tart? I would say I finished a stretch of bakery shifts, I came home, I made the pastry dough. I woke up, I cut the pears in the thinnest segments and then I tossed them in fruity cardamom specks before strategically placing each on the rolled pastry and folding up the sides. It obviously needed a bit of chocolate, because who would dream of a chocolate-less pear dessert. I never know (and probably can’t remember) the stories behind the things I’m baking but I fucking love the process of it. It is the process that is the story behind this pear tart. And any human that can come home after spending all day baking and still have the urge to try and bake something good is probably a bit weird and will need to have the sweet tooth of a toddler, but at least it is fulfilling.

Pear, cardamom and chocolate rustic tart

For the filling

2/3 ripe pears – used two and half
1/2  tsp cardamom
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
25g butter, in tiny cubes
50g dark chocolate

For the pastry

140g plain flour
2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk, cold plus another for egg washing2 tbsp milk, cold

Method

  1. To make the pastry stir together flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a freestanding mixer. Add the butter and mix until you have pea sized pieces of butter. Mix the egg yolk and milk together, then add to the butter and flour and mix very briefly, just until it comes together. Put the dough on a clean surface and use the palms of your hands to smear it against the surface. Do this four/five times then gather the dough into a round disc, wrap in cling-film and chill for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190C/170 fan and line a large tray with baking paper. To make the filling, quarter the pears and slice out the cores. Slice the quarters thinly, you should get about 5 segments from each quarter of pear. Put the slices in a large bowl along with the ground cardamom, sugar, flour and lemon juice and carefully toss together to coat the pears.  
  3. Roll the dough out to a circle, about the thickness of a £1 coin and around 20 cm wide. Place the pears in three overlapping rows in the middle of the pastry, making sure to leave an inch or two of space around the edges. Fold the pastry edges over the pears to close the tart and then brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Transfer the tart to the lined tray and freeze for 15 minutes. When ready to bake, dot the pears with the tiny cubes of butter and then bake in the oven for 45 minutes. If the bottom of the tart is still pale, cover with foil and bake for another ten minutes.  
  4. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once melted, spoon the chocolate into a piping bag. Cut a small hole in the end and while the tart is still warm, drizzle the whole thing with the melted chocolate.


Sweet potato pie with whipped cream and maple pecans

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Last year my sister asked for a sweet potato pie topped with burnt marshmallow for us to have on the Christmas table. The pie didn’t make it to table, but we certainly weren’t short on American offerings. It was the second year running for having completely un-englishified an undoubtedly British affair – spuds and sprouts were sitting alongside a shallow fried patty of Kraft Mac n Cheese, the cornbread had a thick, stuffing-like consistency and it paired well with the actual stuffing made from a packet of sage and onion stuffing mix and supermarket sausage meat. The sweet potato pie would have rounded off our weird fusion dinner nicely.

We’re six weeks away from Christmas (not that I’m counting), so instead of appropriately churning out another pumpkin pie, I wanted to pay homage to our missing sweet potato pie of yesteryear. To be honest though, this is not too dissimilar to a pumpkin pie – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try this alternative. The sweet potato, if blended to death, makes for a silky custard filling. I used whipped cream instead of marshmallow topping to tone down the sweetness, and the pecans are there to look pretty and add crunch i.e. totally not necessary. I hope this pie makes it to your Christmas or Thanksgiving table.

Sweet potato pie with whipped cream and maple pecans

Makes one 9 inch pie

Ingredients

For the pastry
  • 200g plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 100g unsalted butter, cold and cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 medium egg yolks mixed with 2 tbsp ice cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten (for the egg wash)

For the pie filling
  • 4-5 medium sweet potatoes, 450g flesh
  • 3 medium eggs, at room temperature
  • 175g double cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1/8  tsp ground star anise (optional)

For the maple pecans
  • 100g pecans
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Whipped cream, to serve

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/180°C fan. Put the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray and bake for one hour, they should be soft in the middle and a little caramelised on the outside. Once slightly cool, peel away the skin and weigh out 450g of potato flesh in a bowl, cover and let cool in the fridge.
  2. While the potato is cooling, make the pastry. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in a food processor and blitz briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until rough breadcrumbs form. Pour in the egg yolks and water and pulse again. As soon as a ball of dough takes shape, stop the mixer. Pour the crumbly dough mixture onto a layer of cling film. Lift up the sides of the cling film and press together to create a round disc – be careful not to overwork it. Put the dough in the fridge to rest for half an hour (or overnight) while you make the filling.
  3. Clean the bowl of your food processor and add the sweet potato. Blitz for one minute to create a smooth puree. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and blitz again until smooth and silky, about one more minute and set aside. You can store the filling in the fridge for up to three days, just make sure to bring it back to room temperature before baking.
  4. Increase the oven temperature to 170°C/190°C fan. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface, the dough needs to be large enough to cover your 9 inch pie plate with overhang. Put the dough in the pie plate and cut off a little of the overhang. Fold in the excess pastry to create a thicker lip around the pie. Use your thumb and index finger to crimp the edges, and then place the pie in the freezer for 30 minutes. Blind bake the dough for 30 minutes, remove the pie weights, then egg wash the pastry case and put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Allow the case to cool slightly.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/180°C fan and foil the edges to prevent them from burning. Pour the sweet potato filling in the cooled pastry. Bake for 35 minutes, there should be the slightest wobble in the middle.
  6. To make the maple pecans, line a tray with greaseproof paper and set aside. Roughly chop the nuts and toast in a dry pan on low heat. Pour in the maple syrup, honey and cinnamon and let it bubble for 4-5 minutes until syrupy and sticky. Pour the nuts on the greaseproof paper, sprinkle with sea salt and leave to set.
  7. Serve a slice of the pie with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkling of maple pecans and a small drizzle of maple syrup.



Love Em xx

Salted caramel stuffed chocolate chip cookies

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Thursday, 2 November 2017

Deb of Smitten Kitchen was right when she said there’s nothing new to add to the chocolate chip cookie conversation. But you can take egg whites away and be left with a cookie that is crispier and richer than one made with a whole egg. There’s nothing new about this phenomenon either, so I haven’t made Deb’s argument redundant. But consider a cookie made only with the yolks of an egg, that has then been stuffed with a square of salted caramel – I’m going to ramp up the cringe factor now and say that it really is a winning combination, like a lamb curry simmered down with plums.

The cookie is gooey and salty, with a richness coming from the dough itself rather than the chocolate alone. I feel like blogging about cookies is important because I always opt for a cookie (it’s a cheap add on to whatever else I’m buying) when I’m visiting a good bakery and I’m consistently disappointed because they’re usually stale. Cookies can’t survive the open air, which means having an on-going stash of these things in your freezer is a logical necessity, unless you suffer from a lack of sweet tooth…



Salted caramel stuffed chocolate chip cookies

Makes 16-18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 240g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks, large
  • 150g dark chocolate chips
  • 16-18 salted caramel squares or toffees – I used my recipe for lavender caramels on Food52,  omit the lavender and add a generous teaspoon of salt instead
Note: after you’ve stuffed and rolled the cookies, you can freeze some or all of them in a freezer bag for up to two months.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C and line two or three large trays with baking parchment. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla until creamed but not light and fluffy, then add the egg yolks and beat again. Stir in the dry ingredients until just mixed, then fold through the chocolate chips or mix them together on the lowest setting of the mixer. If you have the time, at this point you can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours to develop the flavours
  2. Roll the dough into half sized balls that are approximately 25g each and then lightly flatten them. Place a caramel in the centre and top with another flattened ball. Seal the sides then place the cookies on the lined trays at least two inches apart. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let them cool slightly on the trays before transferring to a rack to cool completely. These are best eaten the day they are baked.
Love Em xx

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