Apple and Butternut Squash Pie

Apple Butternut Squash Pie

Wotchers!

Here’s an example of how a passing comment I read turns into something delicious – which I find even more enjoyable for it being over 250 years old!

William Ellis was a gentleman farmer in Hertfordshire for most of the early 18th century. He was passionate about agriculture and husbandry and wrote extensively about his life and experiences. His reputation seems to have suffered somewhat both during his lifetime and afterwards, as his efforts to make money by writing about his knowledge of country matters was looked down on by ‘true’ gentlemen. Nowadays, his work is regarded in much higher esteem.

Ellis’ The Country Housewife’s Family Companion (1750) is delightfully scatty, wandering off on digressions and anecdotes at every opportunity.The inspiration for this recipe came from the final paragraph of a section on puddings, vinegars and savoury pies (I told you it was scatty!).

The original mentions a mixture of pumpkin and apples, however, it wasn’t pumpkin season when I first read it, and what I had on hand was an early season butternut squash, so that is what I used. Paired with some fluffy Bramley apples and just the slightest amount of sugar, this pie is light and refreshing, moist enough to hold it’s shape, but not so soggy as to ruin the pastry. Since modern Bramley Apples are probably much juicier than those available in the 18th century, I have included a little cornflour to thicken any excess liquid.

When it comes to the pastry, you have several options – obvs! The first time I made this I used a butter puff pastry, top and bottom. This decadence worked deliciously against the, lets face it, rather spartan filling – but the sharpness of the apple, the sweetness of the squash and the flaky crispness of the buttery pastry were truly a delight to savour. You could extend this flaky buttery-ness by opting for filo pastry. Alternatively, as in the photo above, mix-and-match with a shortcrust pastry for the bottom and sides and a puff pastry lid. If you’re planning a deep dish pie, then this would be your best option, as the shortcrust will hold the sides up better than puff – a large, flat pie is ideal for using butter puff pastry.

Apple Butternut Pie with puff pastry

Apple and Butternut Squash Pie

Rather than have a list of vague quantities to cover all the pastry and pie size options, I’ve decided to go with the deep dish pie, as there are a couple of details that require a little attention in order to get the very best results.

300g butternut squash – peeled and chopped, or shredded on a mandolin
300g Bramley Apples – peeled, cored and chopped, or shredded on a mandolin
3tbs caster sugar [1]
2tbs cornflour
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry
1 batch sweet cornflour shortcrust pastry – from here

egg-white for brushing

milk and caster sugar for glazing

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll out the pastry and line a 24cm tart tin.
  • Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork to prevent blistering.
  • Line the pastry with baking parchment and weigh it down with rice, dried peas or baking beans.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and weights.
  • Brush the inside of the pastry with lightly beaten egg-white and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  • Set pie aside and raise the heat of the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan.
  • Toss the apple and squash together.
  • Mix the sugar and cornflour together and sprinkle over the filling and toss again.
  • Add the filling to the blind-baked pastry case and press down firmly – there will be some shrinkage during cooking, especially when using Bramley Apples, and you want to try and minimise any possibility of a huge gap opening up between the pastry lid and the filling.
  • If your butternut squash is rather mature, and doesn’t seem very moist, add 2-3 tbs water over the filling before you add the pastry lid.
  • Damp the edges of the pie and lay the sheet of puff pastry over the top. Press together firmly and crimp the edges.
  • Trim the excess pastry.
  • Cut a 1.5-2cm steam vent in the centre of the pie – I find a plain, metal piping nozzle is the best/neatest way to achieve this. This will also help indicate whether the pie is cooked, as the filling will be visible through the hole and a shred or two extracted and tasted if necessary.
  • Decorate with pastry scraps as appropriate.
  • Brush the whole lid with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
  • Put the pie onto a baking sheet and bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170°C, 150°C Fan and bake until the filling is cooked, 35-45 minutes more. NB The juice will be visible bubbling through the vent hole when cooked. If the lid is browning too much, cover it with a sheet of either foil or baking parchment.
  • Remove cooked pie from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Eat warm or cold.

[1] This is the very minimum amount to still achieve a sweet pie. If your apples are especially sharp, add more sugar, but remember, the sugar will also draw out the juice from the apples, so add a little more cornflour as well to compensate.


Heritage Florentines

Heritage Florentines

Wotchers!

The recipe I have for you this week is infinitely customisable, rich, classic, timeless……and made up 2 weeks ago.

Yes – confession time – I have LURED you in with the promise of an authentic, resurrected classic biscuit by using a shamelessly ambiguous title.

For these are not Heritage Florentines due to their authenticity and observance of a meticulously researched recipe. No – they are named after Stuart Heritage who said something nice about me in The Guardian newspaper.

Something like…….

THE GREATEST GBBO CONTESTANT OF ALL TIME, FOR ALL TIME, TILL THE MOUNTAINS FALL AND THE SEAS RUN DRY.

I paraphrase, but I think that was the general gist.

Go me! :D

In gratitude, I sent him a bumper-fun Box O’ Bakes, which included these Florentines.

Reading the – frankly hi-LARIOUS – article, I noticed a certain wistfulness about him wanting-to-but-never-quite-getting-fired-up-enough-to bake stuff. Quite by coincidence, an article on “How to bake the perfect Florentine” was published on the same day as I made these. However, those all turned out to be a whole lot of Faff™, what with the butter and the sugar and the cream and the flour…..yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. SO! I rustled up this recipe for the faff-hating foodie! I’ve no idea whether he’ll have a go at them, but the recipe is here if needed.

I used a silicone cupcake mould to ensure a small, rounded shape to each biscuit, and also to prevent them spreading to side-plate proportions with accompanying tooth-shattering caramel. The mix of fruit and nuts is entirely customisable to a) what you like and b) what you have in the cupboard. Keep the fruit large/whole, so that the variety in the baked biscuit can be both seen and appreciated, rather than become an anonymous blob. Incidentally, this recipe is an amazingly efficient method of spring-cleaning the cupboard and using up all the half-opened packets you’ve got lying around.

*poker face* Not that I’d ever do that.

……

ANYHOO….

Hope you enjoy this fast, fuss and gluten-free riff on a classic.

Stuart Heritage Tweet

Heritage Florentines

Written in deliberately faff-free language. For a delicious variation, use caramel condensed milk, aka Banoffi Pie filling.

1 lot of sliced almonds
1 lot of coconut ribbons/cornflakes
2 lots of dried fruit
1 (397g) tin sweetened, condensed milk

  • Get a mug – doesn’t matter which size, really – big if you’re peckish, small if not really, proper measuring cup if that’s how you roll.
  • Fill mug/cup with sliced almonds.
  • Bung them in a bowl.
  • Fill mug/cup with coconut ribbons and bung in the bowl. Don’t like coconut? Use cornflakes instead.
  • Fill mug with dried fruit that you love. Throw in more nuts if you like.
  • Bung it in the bowl.
  • Repeat as above (for a total of 2 mugs of fruit).
  • Open tin of sweetened condensed milk.
  • Bung it in the bowl.
  • Stir.
  • Turn oven on to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
  • Put spoonfuls of mixture into cupcake tin. NB Using bendy silicon is probably easiest, but non-stick metal works too. To help retrieve the biscuits easily after baking, put a square of baking parchment into the bottom of each one and spoon mixture on top. NNB Up to 2cm of mixture will make a crispy Florentine, more than 2cm will make chewy/gooey Florentine. Either way, they will be nice and round and not burnt at the edges.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Take the tray out and turn it around 180 degrees.
  • Look at your Florentines. If they’re already starting to brown, bake for a further 2-3 mins. If they’re still pale, bake for a full 5 more minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • Melt some chocolate.
  • Dip the bottom of the cooked biscuits in chocolate.
  • Put biscuits on parchment to set.
  • Scoff.

Cheese-Stuffed Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta

Wotchers!

Haven’t done one of these for a while – it’s Deja Food!

Softly spiced vegetable ‘meatballs’ in a rich and creamy onion gravy.

Actually, the ‘gravy’ is worth making by itself – it’s SO creamy and SO flavourful, I could eat it as is with bread to dip and a crunchy salad – Nom!

Many Malai Kofta recipes have the cheese grated and mixed with the vegetables and potatoes. I prefer to have a cube of sharp-tasting cheese in the middle to act both as a surprise and to cut through the richness of the sauce. The downside of this approach, of course, is that without the cheesy ‘glue’ to hold them together, the vege-balls are a little less sturdy. Chilling in the freezer and gentle handling whilst cooking on the pan should reduce the possibility of them falling apart. Alternatively, grate the cheese and fold in with the rest of the ingredients.

This recipe is perfect for using up leftover vegetables and potatoes, yet glamorous enough to pass off to the family as a freshly-created dish.

*poker-face* Not that I’d ever do that.

*crickets chirp*

ANYHOO…

The recipe can be adapted to whatever vegetables you have to hand. Suggestions for alternative ingredients are given in the recipe.

Originally published in The Guardian Readers’ Recipe Swap: Meatballs.

 

Cheese-Stuffed Malai Kofta

Makes 12.

Serves 4 children, or 4 adults as a starter, or 2 hungry adults as a main course, or 1 peckish adult and 2 ravenous children, or a family of 4 as a side dish, or….you get the gist.

For the kofta:
400g mixed cooked vegetables
200g cooked potato (1 large)
0.5tsp coarse-ground black pepper
0.5tsp salt
0.5tsp garam masala
0.5tsp amchoor (dried mango powder) or sumac or 1-2tsp lemon juice
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
60g cheshire/feta/goat cheese or paneer or vegetarian cheese – cut into 12 cubes
3tbs oil for frying

  • Chop the vegetables.
  • Grate the potato.
  • Mix together with the salt, pepper, spices and cornflour.
  • Divide into 12 x 50g balls.
  • Make a hole in each ball and press in a cube of cheese.
  • Mould the vegetables around the cheese and shape into a ball.
  • Put the koftas onto a plastic tray and place in the freezer to firm up while you make the sauce/gravy.

For the gravy
2 large onions
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
60g cashew nuts
60ml plain yoghurt
2tbs oil
1tsp dried fenugreek leaves
2tsp garam masala
1tsp salt
60g tomato paste concentrate
1tsp chilli powder (optional)
250ml double cream or crème fraîche or unsweetened evaporated milk
125ml milk

  • Peel the onions and the ginger and blitz to a puree in a food processor.
  • Make a puree of the cashews and the yoghurt with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  • Heat the oil in a pan.
  • Add the onion mixture and fry over a low heat for several minutes until translucent.
  • Add the cashew mixture, spices and tomato paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the cream and milk and stir thoroughly.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  • If you prefer a smooth sauce, give it a quick blitz either with a stick blender or in a liquidiser. Additionally, if the sauce is a little thick, add water to thin it to the right consistency.
  • Return to the pan and set aside to keep warm while the koftas are cooked.

To finish:
1. Heat 3tbs oil in a wide, shallow pan.
2. Add the chilled koftas and brown them on all sides. Toss gently, otherwise they might break apart.
3. Ladle the sauce into a warmed serving dish and arrange the koftas on top. Alternatively, go crazy and arrange the koftas in the warm dish and pour the sauce over the top.
4. Serve with naan breads to mop up all the sauce.


Quince Cheesecake

Quince Cheesecake

Wotchers!

Something very different for you all this week, that I discovered on my shiny, SHINY new favourite recipe source – Coquinaria – an online resource of Dutch Medieval recipes.

Now is the season for Quince and whilst I love their fragrance perfuming the house, and the two-for-one recipe combination of ruby Quince Jelly and aromatic Quince Paste (membrillo) that you can make from just one batch of fruit, I’ve made them both for the past five years. I was looking for something different to use these fabulous fruits and this is the treasure I found.

It comes from the Manuscript UB Gent 476, which dates from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, and which corresponds roughly to the end of the Wars of the Roses and the start of the Tudor reign in England and Wales.

As far as tweaking the recipe goes, I’ve added a pastry crust and a decorated pastry lid, sprinkled with nib sugar. Reasoning that fruit nowadays is probably much larger and better formed than that of five hundred years ago, I halved the number of quince required to just three and also cut down on the butter, egg-yolks and sugar – it’s practically health food! ;)

Actually, just a further word about the ingredients – you can treat the curd/almonds/raisins/egg quantities given as the midpoint on a sliding scale, depending on how you want your cheesecake to turn out. If you reduce them all to 60g and just use 2 yolks, then the flavour of the quince really comes through sharp and strong, and the texture is quite light. If you increase them all to 120g and add an extra yolk, then it’s very rich and complex, with no one flavour dominating, and a much firmer texture. The quantities given strike a nice balance, I think, but experiment!

Peering over my shoulder at the Middle Dutch original text, my husband commented that an accurate translation of the title would be something along the lines of Weird/Peculiar/Eccentric Tart, but that’s not going to get anyone excited, so I’ve opted for a name both tempting and recognisable.

Quince Cheesecake

For the pastry
225g plain flour
60g cornflour or rice flour
140g butter
ice cold water

Filling
3 large-ish quince
85g curd cheese – drained
85g ground almonds
85g raisins
3 tablespoons white sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
3 large yolks
60g clarified unsalted butter – melted

Decoration
Apple jelly or apricot glaze
nibbed sugar

  • For the pastry
    • Put the flours and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
    • With the machine running, gradually add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
    • Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and knead smooth.
    • Divide into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap each in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
    • Take the smaller of the two pieces of pastry from the fridge and roll out until it it large enough to cover your intended tart tin. I used a 20cm loose-bottomed flan tin. This piece of pastry will be for the decorative lid. Don’t roll the pastry too thin, or the lid might curl up during baking – no thinner than 5mm. Slide the pastry onto some baking parchment.
    • Take the tart tin you’re going to use and lay it upside-down onto your pastry. LIGHTLY score around it with the tip of a sharp knife. This will give you an outline for your decorations.
    • Using a knife, or mini cutters if you have them, cut a design into the pastry lid. Don’t make the cutouts either too large or too close together – you still need to transfer it onto the top of the tart and whilst a lacy design is, without doubt, breathtaking, getting it from your work surface onto the tart would be a nightmare.
    • Cover the lid with cling film and return it to the fridge to rest/chill while you prepare the filling.
  • For the filling
    • Bring a large pan of water to the boil.
    • Remove the fluff from the quince by rubbing them over with a clean cloth.
    • Gently lower the quince – whole – into the boiling water and turn the heat down a little to a gentle simmer.
    • Simmer – uncovered – for 20-30 minutes until the fruit are tender (test with a cocktail stick). The motion of the hot water should have the fruit gently tumbling as they simmer, so they should cook evenly. The skins will split, but that’s fine, as long as the boiling isn’t too rough, they won’t fall apart.
    • Lift the poached fruit out of the water and set onto a sieve to drain/cool.
    • When cool enough to handle, remove the skin – it’ll peel off easily, like tomato skins – and cut away from the core all of the cooked and softened buttery-yellow flesh. The cores are larger than, say, an apple core, with the flesh closest to the core becoming quite gritty – you want to avoid using this gritty part.
    • Mash/blend all the cooked quince to a smooth puree. I got over 450g from just three quince. If your fruit isn’t as bountiful, consider scaling down the rest of the filling ingredients.
    • Add the drained curd, ground almonds, sugar and spices and mix thoroughly.
    • Taste and adjust sweetness/spices if necessary.
    • Stir in the yolks, raisins and the melted, clarified butter.
  • To assemble the tart
    • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
    • Remove the larger piece of pastry from the fridge and roll out to a thickness of 4-5mm.
    • Line your tart tin and use a fork to poke holes over the pastry at the bottom. Make sure there is enough pastry to hang over the edges of the tin.
    • Line with baking parchment and beads/rice and bake for 10 minutes.
    • Remove parchment/beads and reduce oven temperature to 150°C, 130°C Fan.
    • Pour the filling into the partly-baked case and smooth over.
    • Dampen the edges of the tart and slide the decorated tart lid onto the tart.
    • Press the edges together firmly, crimp as desired, then trim the excess pastry.
    • Brush the tart lid with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
    • Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the filling has set and the pastry has browned.
    • Brush the pastry lid with warmed jelly/glaze and sprinkle with nibbed sugar. I spend time fishing sugar nibs out of the lattice holes, but there’s no need to be so precious about it ;)

 

 


Banana Buns

Banana Buns

Wotchers!

Here’s something that’s fun AND tastes great – always a winning combination in my book – Banana Buns!

A sweet bun dough wrapped around a filling of mashed banana – and shaped/decorated to look like a well-ripened banana!

To avoid having a filling that was too soggy, I mixed mashed banana with lemon juice (to prevent discolouration) and sugar (to counter the sharpness of the lemon juice) and then simmered it until most of the moisture has evaporated. As always, feel free to customise to your own tastes – use honey or palm sugar as the sweetener and omit the lemon juice altogether if you like. Substitute your own favourite sweet dough, or even glam it up by using brioche, it’s all delicious!

I’m including a ‘fast and dirty’ method for making the custard decoration, since such a relatively small amount is required. You could, of course, make your own creme patissière, if you don’t mind having quite a lot left over. Make it a little thicker than usual, so that it holds its shape when piped.

Banana Buns

Makes 6-8 buns, depending on size

For the dough

250g strong white bread flour
1 sachet fast acting easy blend yeast
25g caster sugar
40g butter
pinch of salt
1 large egg
60ml milk
60ml water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling
3 bananas
3tbs sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Custard decoration
20g custard powder
1tbs granulated sugar
150ml milk

1 egg to glaze

 

  • Put the flour, yeast, sugar, butter, salt and egg into a food processor and blitz until well mixed. The mixture will resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  • Tip the mixture into a bowl and make a well in the middle. If you have a stand mixer and a dough hook, then use that.
  • Warm the milk.
  • Add in the water and the vanilla to cool it to blood temperature. To test: stick your finger in it – if you can’t feel it, then it’s at the correct temperature.
  • Add the liquid to the dry mix and bring together into a dough. NB It will be rather moist and soft, so if you’re kneading by hand, use a scraper on the surface to help you lift the dough as you knead it.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes, then set aside, covered, until doubled in size (about 45 minutes-1 hour).
  • For the filling
    • Put all of the ingredients in a small pan and mash together.
    • Simmer over a medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated. You will see the clouds of steam get less and less and eventually, no visible liquid on the bottom of the pan.
    • Set aside to cool.
  • For the decoration.
    • Mix all of the ingredients in a microwave-proof bowl.
    • Cover and cook on high for 90 seconds.
    • Remove and stir thoroughly.
    • Re-cover and cook on high for another 90 seconds.
    • Stir, cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming, and set aside to cool.
  • When the dough has risen, tip out and pat down.
  • Divide the dough into 6 or 8. Larger pieces of dough are easier to shape, but they do swell up to make extremely large buns once baked. You decide.
  • For each piece of dough:
    • Roll out to the size and shape of a pita bread.
    • Dampen the edges with a pastry brush dipped in water.
    • Place 1-2tsp banana filling at one end and fold over. Press the dough together firmly to seal in the filling.
    • Roll up the filling in the dough like a sausage roll. Make sure the seal is underneath the roll and pinch the ends together.
    • Gently curve the roll into a banana shape and set onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Set the buns to rise for 20-30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
  • Put the custard into a piping bag fitted with a small (5mm) plain nozzle.
  • When the buns have risen, pipe 3 or 4 ‘stripes’ of custard along the length of each bun and use the beaten egg to glaze between the stripes. This may seem awkward, but glazing the buns first makes their surface very slippery, and the custard tends to slide off.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden brown.
  • Remove baking sheet from the oven and immediately cover the cooked buns with a clean cloth. This will keep the steam in and make the crust soft as they cool.

Goathland Treacle Tart

Goathland Treacle Tart

Wotchers!

I’m a big fan of British recipes as you may know – and I think we should do everything that we can to preserve them, especially the hidden gems that are regional specialties.

Goathland is a tiny village – population less than 500 – tucked away in the North York Moors National Park, just south-west of Whitby. It looks an absolutely delightful place, and Harry Potter fans will recognise Goathland Station as doubling for Hogsmeade (the station nearest Hogwarts) as well as Aidensfield from the popular TV series Heartbeat.

In the 1930s, Mrs Arthur Webb was commissioned by the BBC to visit farms throughout the UK “in order to secure something that was characteristic of its cooking and preparation of food.” In much the same way a her contemporary, Dorothy Hartley, would – Mrs Webb tramped around the countryside conversing with farmers wives and watching them cook in their own kitchens, frequently with awe and respect.

I looked at the fireplace. I watched the flames travelling under the oven.
“How do you manage to keep the heat going – you burn coal, of course?”
“Oh no” the answer came swiftly; “I never trust coal or anything else than wood for my baking. I understand wood better and I know exactly what heat it will give.”
“Do you ever have failures?”
“Failures? Of course not. I know exactly what I want and I make it.”
“Well, how do you manage to arrive at such delicious pies as these?” and I pointed to the laden table. “Do you weigh the ingredients?”
“Never. I could not spare the time. I just know how much the flour, butter, lard, milk, water and eggs will make.”

Luckily for us, Mrs Webb was able to jot down the ingredients for this fantastic tart, which I have only tweaked very slightly in converting to metric measurements and adding cooking times/temperatures. I’m curious to know which farm in this peaceful area was the origin of such a flavour-packed bake.

As you can see from the photograph. it bears little resemblance to the traditional British, tooth-achingly sweet, open-topped Treacle Tart made with golden syrup and fresh breadcrumbs. Whilst still containing breadcrumbs, the filling for this double-crust tart is packed with fruit both fresh and dried, actually contains treacle, and is much closer in taste to a traditional mincemeat, although blessedly fat-free. Along with the dried fruit and spices, the filling is given some fresh zing with chopped apple and lemon zest/juice. The dry breadcrumbs absorb any apple juice during cooking, resulting in a tart with a firm, fruity filling, no soggy bottom, and packing a huge wallop of flavour. The lack of fat in the filling means that the taste is bright and fresh and never cloying or overly rich.

I’ve chosen to wrap this in my favourite cornflour shortcrust, as its dry crispness when baked is the perfect foil for the filling to really shine.

Sidebar: Mrs Webb’s notes tell us merely to “cover with another pastry” – which is all well and good, but pays little attention to the presentation which is, after all, usually the first thing that tempts us with a dish. I’ve made a conscious decision to try to present dishes, no matter how humble their ingredients, in the most appetising and eye-catching way. If I may paraphrase the great William Morris “Serve nothing from your oven that you do not know to be delicious or believe to be beautiful.”

Goathland Treacle Tart top

Which is all well and good, except that when it comes to decorating, I usually have the patience and finesse of a potato. But I also have a little imagination, so I created the above decoration for the tart lid, in the best traditions of housewives across the years, with what I had to hand: namely, a teaspoon, an apple corer and a skewer.

pastry
The pastry was crimped by laying the pastry lid as per the above diagram, so that the edges lay vertically against the sides of the tin. Insert the handle of a teaspoon between the outer edge of the pastry and the tin and your finger and thumb against the inside of the pastry. Press inwards with the spoon handle as you pinch the two pieces of pastry together. I had intended only to hand-crimp the tart edges, but the imprint of the teaspoon handle has made a pretty design, so I’m going to run with it. *lying* I totally meant to do that.

The pattern was made firstly by gently pressing an apple-corer into the lid – enough to mark, but not enough to cut all the way through the pastry (see pic below).

pastry corer pattern

Then I used a wooden skewer to poke holes in lines from the centre ring to each of the surrounding rings (see pic below).

pastry corer pattern 2

I then added a line of holes between each of these lines. No, no pic for this. Even though I know it’s my MS Paint Skills that bring you flocking to the blog – in droves! – I got bored drawing the dots one by one, so you’ll have to wing it. :D

If you’re in any doubt whether or not to try this tart – and I really hope you will – let me just say that I’m seriously considering using this as my mince pie recipe this year.

Just sayin’.

Goathland Treacle Tart

Pastry
225g plain flour
60g cornflour or rice flour
140g butter
ice cold water

  • Put the flours and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • With the machine running, gradually add the cold water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Tip the mixture onto a floured surface, knead smooth then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut off two thirds. Put the remaining third back into the fridge.
  • Roll this piece out to a thickness of 4-5mm and use it to line a greased 18cm pie tin, loose-bottomed for preference, making sure there is enough pastry overlapping the sides of the tin to allow for joining the lid.
  • Chill while you mix the filling.

Filling

60g dry breadcrumbs [1]
60g currants
60g sultanas
30g candied orange peel – diced
30g candied lemon peel – diced
1 small cooking apple – peeled, cored and chopped/grated
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground mixed spice
30ml treacle
30ml milk

  • Mix the breadcrumbs, dried fruit, candied peel, spices and lemon zest in a bowl.
  • Warm the treacle by placing the open can in a saucepan of water over a low heat. As it warms, it becomes less viscous and easier to pour.
  • Pour out the required amount of treacle and mix with the lemon juice, then add the milk afterwards. NB Don’t mix the lemon juice with the milk first, otherwise it will curdle.
  • Add the liquids and the chopped apple to the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Add the filling to the chilled pastry case and smooth over.
  • Roll out the remaining pastry to make the lid.
  • Wet the edges of the pastry with water, and lay the pastry lid onto the filling. Ease the edges together as per the diagram above. Make sure there’s no air trapped underneath the lid – in the oven this air will expand in the heat and may cause the lid to lift away from the filling.
  • Use the back of a knife (so as not to scratch your non-stick tin) to trim away the excess pastry, then crimp the edges as described above.
  • Decorate as desired.
  • Brush with beaten egg, or with milk and then sprinkle with a little caster sugar. (I used just egg).
  • Bake for 30 minutes, turning the tin around after 20 minutes to ensure it colours evenly.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • After cooling for 10 minutes, if you’ve used a loose-bottomed tin, the tart can be gently removed  and served, or set onto a wire rack until cold.

[1] These must be really dry. Definitely not fresh. If you have none to hand, nor any stale bread, make breadcrumbs of 3 slices of bread and lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dry (without browning) in a 120°C 100°C Fan oven for 20-30 minutes.


Curry Bloom Buns

Curry Bloom Buns

Wotchers!

I used to live and work in Singapore, and one of the iconic snack foods there is the Curry Puff!

It’s basically a pastry turnover with a spicy curry filling – sometimes there’s meat added and/or other vegetables, but my favourite was the potato curry puff. More usually, the filling is diced potato, but the cafeteria at the school I was working at sold potato curry puffs with a smooth, mashed potato filling. I know – carb. coma material, amiright? The combination of crisp pastry and smooth, spiced mashed potato was very comforting, and over the years I’ve tried to reproduce their flavour but without much success.

Until now.

Having said that, the recipe this week isn’t for a traditional curry puff at all. Traditionally, curry puffs are deep fried, occasionally with spiral pastry (similar to that used for sfogliatelle), but the thought of deep fried anything tends to fill me with the horrors these days. Another option would be to bake them, using regular pastry, but even that has a relatively high fat content, so what I decided to do was use bread dough in place of pastry.

Stuffed, filled bread buns are the ideal mobile meal or picnic item – the filling is self-contained,so there’s nothing to fall out or dry up or get soggy, and to my mind they are even more tasty because the dough wrapper seals in all the flavours during cooking. My recipe for Bierocks, for example, has such simple ingredients, but tastes amazing!

Over the years my attempts to reproduce the filling have stumbled over the spicy flavouring. I’ve tried numerous combinations of spices and each one has had some major flaw. Thinking I’d had a Eureka moment, I even tried mixing in sweet potato with the mashed potato but no *shudders* Oh dear me, that was such a ‘no’.

But now I’ve got a filling I’m happy with because I opted to buy curry paste. *waits until the shrieks of horror die down* Yes, I opened a jar and I’m not ashamed to admit it! It turns out that what my taste buds had been yearning for wasn’t an authentic, hand-crafted spice mix – it was just *waves hands about vaguely* ‘curry’. Sidebar: I also buy basic, value curry sauce – sometimes called ‘chip shop curry sauce’ and pour it over cooked chicken – with the family, it’s just as popular a meal as the home-made-from-scratch butter chicken (and made in a fraction of the time!) Go on, indulge in a jar today – it’ll set you back 20p.

Having said that, the range of curry pastes available in the supermarkets means that you can ring the changes as often as you like. Because the curry paste is concentrated, you don’t need to use much at all, and there’s also no risk of making the filling too soggy. I’ve flavoured the filling quite strongly, because there’s just a small quantity in each bun. If you want to use more filling and make turnovers/pasties, consider using less of the curry paste.

You can make these buns plain – just as a round bun with filling inside, but you can also pretty them up into the flower shapes shown above. Too often we spend a lot of time faffing with decorations for sweet things, and savoury items tend to be the poor relation, so I decided to redress the balance somewhat. An added bonus of the flower shapes is that they can be eaten delicately, by breaking off a petal at a time to nibble on! – Oooh! Get me, Mrs Etty-Kwette!

Curry Bloom Buns

The following quantities make 8 buns.

Dough
300g strong white bread flour
1 sachet easy-blend yeast
1tsp salt
30ml oil
100ml water
100ml milk
1 large eggwhite

Filling
300g cooked potato – riced/mashed
2tbs curry paste of choice – I used Patak’s Rogan Josh

Glaze
1 large egg yolk
1tbs water

Decoration
black sesame seeds or kalonji/nigella seeds
white sesame seeds

  • Put all the dry ingredients for the dough, plus the oil and egg-white, into a bowl.
  • Heat the water and add to the milk. This should make a warm mixture of blood heat temperature. Test by dipping a finger into the mixture to make sure it’s not too hot.
  • Gradually add the milk and water mixture to the other ingredients until they come together in a ball. You might not need all of the liquids.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth.
  • Brush the dough with oil and place in an oiled bowl.
  • Cover with cling-film and set aside to rise until doubled in size.
  • Over a medium heat, cook the curry paste in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes, to bring out the flavours of the spices.
  • Remove pan from heat and add the mashed potato. Stir thoroughly to combine, until the colour is even throughout.
  • Once the dough is risen, tip out from the bowl and gently press to deflate.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Divide the dough into eight pieces.
  • Divide the filling into eight pieces.
  • For each bun
    • Pat the dough into a circle about 10cm in diameter.
    • Put a ball of potato filling in the middle of the dough.
    • Damp the edges of the dough with water.
    • Gather the edges of the dough around the filling and pinch to seal.
    • Turn the dough parcel over and press to flatten until it measures 10cm in diameter.
    • Using a sharp knife, add cuts to the flattened dough as shown in the diagram below.
    • Bun cuts
    • Twist each piece to the left 90° so that the filling is visible and gently flatten to make the petal shape.
    • Transfer the bun to the prepared baking sheet.
    • Allow the buns to rise for 15 minutes (after the last one is shaped).
  • Whisk the egg-yolk and water together and brush over the shaped buns.
  • Scatter the black sesame seeds in the centre of each bun, and sprinkle the pale seeds over the ‘petals’.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked and golden.
  • Wrap in tea-towels and set on a wire to cool, to keep the crust soft.

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