Egg and Bacon Pies

bacon egg pie

Wotchers!

Sometimes the best-tasting food is also the simplest. This recipe was yet another from one of my many dusty W.I.pamphlets from the mid 20th century. It was so brief it barely qualified as a paragraph, let alone a recipe, so I’ve added some detail below to help things along. In essence, you can count the number of ingredients in this pie on one hand: pastry, egg, bacon, seasoning. The pie in the picture above also contains diced tomato, which I thought would add freshness; it did to a certain extent, but not to the degree I was hoping, and in fact, the ‘plain’ bacon and egg pie was tastier. Alas, my cross-section photo for this pie (see below) wasn’t as visually arresting as the one above, so I decided to lure you with the picture above, then set the record straight. You can choose whichever version appeals most.

Bacon & Egg Pie

Also, I’ve mentioned them before, but I just LOVE my small cake/tart tins I found at my local The Range (4 x 10cm diameter pans for £2.50). They have a small lip on the side, which makes them great for tarts or, in this case, for firmly attaching the pastry lids of pies. This is not a paid endorsement – I just think they are a bargain and am sharing.

You can be as pro-active or as lazy as you like with these pies – make everything from scratch or buy it in if you’re pressed for time. Personally, I like to hover, metaphorically, between the two: make the pastry for the base, but buy a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry for the top, onna count of life too short etc, etc. The cornflour shortcrust is dry and crisp, and the buttery, flaky, puff pastry is both delicious and a fantastic contrast. Once the pans are lined, sprinkle over a little cooked bacon, crack in a whole egg and add the lid and you’re done!

OK, yes, you should add a sprinkling of fresh parsley too.

And pepper. Of course pepper.

Well OBVIOUSLY crimping the edges is a good idea.

And yes, egg-yolk wash will give both colour and shine.

I’ll come in again.

Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as….

Oops! Wrong sketch.[1]

Once the pans are lined, sprinkle over a little cooked bacon and some fresh parsley, season with black pepper, crack in a whole egg, a little more parsley and pepper, add the lid, crimp the pastry edges, wash over with beaten egg and you’re DONE!

The quantities are up to you and however many you’re catering for. The suggestions below are for 4 individual pies. Any excess pastry, of either sort, can be frozen for later, as can the cooked pies, for up to a month.

Bacon and Egg Pies

1 batch cornflour shortcrust – scroll down on this page
1 roll puff pastry
100g lean bacon
4 large eggs
4-6 tablespoons of chopped, fresh parsley
coarse-ground black pepper
4 tomatoes – skinned, de-seeded and diced finely – optional

1 large yolk – for glazing

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan.
  • Roll out the shortcrust pastry to a thickness of 5mm.
  • Grease and line your tart tins with the shortcrust pastry, making sure to ease the pastry into the bottom edge of the pan, not stretch it. Leave excess pastry hanging over the sides of the tin and chill in the fridge until required.
  • Chop the bacon into small dice and cook until just done. No browning. Drain on kitchen roll.
  • Remove pies from fridge.
  • Scatter the bacon in the bottom of the pies.
  • Add a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a little back pepper. No need for salt, as the bacon is salty enough. Add the tomatoes if using.
  • Crack an egg into each pie. If you want the yolk to be dead centre, you could clear a space amongst the bacon, but it’s not really necessary.
  • Add more parsley and black pepper.
  • Cut four squares of puff pastry, large enough to cover the pies.
  • Brush the rims of the pies with water then lay over the puff pastry squares.
  • Press firmly around the edges, then trim the excess pastry with a sharp knife.
  • Crimp the edges of the pies for a decorative effect.
  • Whisk the yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush the pie tops liberally.
  • Cut three or four small vent holes, NOT in the middle – you don’t want to break the yolk inside.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is puffed and golden and the underside crisp.
  • Enjoy warm.

[1] NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Least of all my husband who read all of the above with a blank expression then said “I don’t get it.” *sigh*


Origami Pies

Filo Mince Pies

Wotchers!

The Festive Food recipe this week isn’t really a recipe, (What? No! Boo! Wot a swizz! We wuz robbed! etc.etc) it’s more of a ‘how to give a new twist to an old favourite’. After all, the Festive Season can be stressful enough without having to learn entirely new culinary creations. Its much easier on the cook to jazz up a firm family favourite with a little nifty pastry work and then be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the day itself. It’s an idea that everyone can adapt to their own festive requirements – pastry origami!

Behind the glamorous exterior, it’s basically a pie, or a tart, but a little pastry magic turns it into a thing of beauty. You can use any pastry you wish – the pictures here show the effects created by three different kinds of pastry. The top photograph shows mince pies made from filo pastry, the photograph below shows beetroot, walnut and goats cheese pies made with puff pastry, and most strikingly, the picture at the bottom shows the showstopping effects of combining shortcrust pastry coloured with freeze-dried beetroot and spinach powders (add 10-15g of powder to the flour in your favourite pastry recipe).

BeetrootPies

All three have been created using the same, simple method to wrap the pastry around the filling, with the photograph below perhaps showing most clearly the shaping of the pastries.

ColouredPastries

Nevertheless, I shall be breaking out my trademark diagrams to reveal the simple method behind this eye-catching design.

But before I do, here are some suggestions for each pastry type

  • Filo Pastry – the finished pastries stay compact during cooking and neither shrink nor swell up as the other pastries do. The fact that it comes in ready-prepared sheets is an added stress reliever. Can be used for sweet or savoury recipes. For sweet recipes, add a sprinkle of sugar over the butter when laminating the sheets together. If you want to have one, decadent, luxurious mince pie, then this would be ideal. For savoury recipes, such as the beetroot and goats cheese pies above, make sure the filling is on the firm side, ideally one that can be shaped into a ball, that will just sit there quietly while you wrap the pastry around it. Ideal for a vegetarian starter or, if made larger, a main course – make the vegetarian in your life feel a bit special for their Christmas meal. You could even make the filling sausage meat for a new take on a sausage roll.
  • Puff Pastry – also comes in ready-made sheets, which is a big bonus. You can make 4 pastries from just a single sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, by gently rolling it a little thinner (3-4mm) and thus making it go a little further. Since this pastry does puff up quite a bit during cooking, it is more suited to make pies of main-course size.
  • Shortcrust pastry – can also be bought ready made, but when it’s so easy to make yourself, why would you? You don’t HAVE to colour it with vegetable powders – the design will make it special enough, and the design is much clearer and crisper with this type of pastry. In many ways, the easiest pastry to work with, so if you’ve got neither the time nor the inclination to Faff About™ with the other two types, then go with this. Great for both sweet and savoury, starter and main dishes.

Method

  1. Prepare your pastry – roll out the puff /shortcrust pastries and laminate 3 sheets of filo together with melted butter.
  2. Cut your pastry into squares. For a starter/dessert sized pie, 10cm is ideal. 12cm of puff pastry will rise to make a great main course pie.
  3. You will need 2 squares of pastry for each pie.
  4. For each individual pie, proceed as follows: Pastry folding instructions graphic
  5. By the time the last petal is formed, the filling has been completely enclosed and your pie will hold its shape beautifully.
  6. To enjoy later, open-freeze now and then store in the freezer in zip-lock bags.
  7. To cook, thaw, brush with beaten egg and bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on size) at 200°C, 180°C Fan.

Sausage Wreath

Sausage Wreath

Wotchers!

Week Two on the Festive Food, and it was inspired one of my followers on Twitter (@BakesALotSue). In response to my call for Festive Food requests, she asked for something for a Boxing Day buffet that could be made ahead and then baked on the day.

So here we have my Sausage Wreath – with the bonus that if it all goes pear-shaped, you can nail it to the front door as a symbol of your seasonal Joyful Mood. H0. H0. H0.

Its basically a riff on sausage rolls, which always seem festive to me, especially when they are in one-or-two-bite sizes. A central sausage pie ‘dome’ is surrounded by a ring of help-yourself, tear-off-and-scoff mini sausage rolls. If you are Cunning, then you can mix and match fillings so that the dome has a separate filling, possibly even vegetarian, which would make this a great two-for-one special. It tastes great hot or cold, so it can stay on the table or sideboard for the rest of the day, for nibbling on. Not directly, of course – get a plate. We’re not animals here!

I’ve made mine circular, but you could make it any shape you like – a square or rectangle would probably be the most space-efficient. Your only limit is the size of the baking sheet your oven can cope with (and also freezer, if you intend to make ahead).

A word of caution: if you make the dome pure sausage-meat, it will take quite a bit longer than the rolls round the edges to bake. This means that, once cooked, the edges will need to be covered with foil to prevent them burning, until the central dome is cooked through, which you can check by using a digital thermometer. An alternative would be to make the middle filling something less dense, such as a mixture of (for example) salmon/cooked rice/spinach/hard-boiled eggs, similar to the Russian Coulibiac. Alternatively, you could use something along the lines of the Picnic Pie filling. Be creative. Go wild!

 Sausage Wreath

The additional flavourings are purely optional, but have the added benefit of making the filling much more interesting and allowing the ingredients to stretch even further. These instructions will cover the use of sausage-meat for the whole pie since, as already mentioned, it requires a little extra care in the baking.

800g good quality sausages
2 sharp apples – Braeburn, Jazz or Granny Smith
Onion to taste[1]
Chopped fresh sage and parsley to taste[2]
Salt and pepper
2 x 500g blocks of puff pastry [3]

1 large egg for glazing

  •  Remove the skins from the sausages and put the meat into a bowl.
  • Peel, core and chop/grate the apple and add to the sausage meat.
  • Chop the onions finely and add to the bowl with the herbs.
  • Season well.
  • Mix all together.
  • Check seasoning/flavourings by cooking a little of the mixture in a pan and tasting. Adjust accordingly.
  • To assemble the pie:
    • Diagram of pastry lining a dish

      Roll out one of the blocks of pastry and use it to line the bowl that will shape your central dome.
      Make sure it overlaps the edges by at least 15cm all round.

    • Diagram showing filling added to pastry lining.

      Add your filling and press down firmly, so that it will hold it’s shape when the bowl is removed.

    • Pastry covering the filling

      Roll out the second piece of pastry and use it to cover the filling in the bowl.
      Moisten the pastry on the rim of the bowl, to form a seal with the second piece of pastry.

    • Lay a chopping board, or similar, over the pastry and carefully turn the whole pie over,
      so that the bowl is now upside down & the pastry lying flat.

    • Overview of pastry will two fillings

      Fold the now top layer of pastry towards the bowl and lay a ring of the remaining filling.
      Leave a gap of about 5cm between the bowl and the outer ring of sausage-meat

    • Cross-section of pie filling and surrounding ring of sausage-meat.

      Brush the pastry either side of the sausage-meat with water.
      Smooth the pastry over the top of the sausage-meat and press down either side.
      Trim any excess pastry from the outside edge.

    • Crimp the edges of the pastry, then divinde the rim into snack-sized sausage rolls using the cuts as shown.

      Crimp the edge of the pastry, then divide the rim into snack-sized sausage rolls using the cuts as shown.
      Twist each roll about 45 degrees to the left, to form the crown brim.

    • Remove the bowl and cut slits in the sides of the dome to let out the steam.
    • Decorate with any leftover pastry.
  • If you’re making this ahead of time, stop now. Freeze on a baking sheet, and when frozen, wrap in foil and plastic to prevent freezer-burn. Thaw thoroughly.[4]
  • To cook:
    • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
    • Whisk the egg with a little water and brush over the pastry to glaze.
    • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the rolls on the rim are cooked through and the pastry golden. NB The filling and the pastry are both rich with butter/fat,so you might want to bake this on a wire rack to let the excess drain off.
    • Remove from the oven and wrap the edge in foil to prevent the pastry from burning. Return to the oven until the dome is cooked. The internal temperature should be at least 71°C when measured by a Thermapen or equivalent. Depending on how firmly you packed the filling, this could be an additional 20-30 minutes or even longer.
  • To serve:
    • Run a knife around the edge of the dome, cutting a circle in the pastry, allowing  both the rolls to be pulled away easily and slices of the pie dome to be cut neatly.
    • Garnish with some sprigs of curly parsley.
    • Step back briskly two paces as the stampede begins. 😀

 

[1] Depending on how onion-y you like things, you could use chives, spring onions, shallots, brown onions, white onions or Spanish onions.

[2] 2-3tbs each of fresh, chopped – or half this quantity if using dried.

[3] Or you can make 2 batches of the quick puff pastry recipe method here. Replace the cocoa with plain flour obvs. and use 250g butter for each batch.

[4] It is possible to cook from frozen, but I haven’t, and considering the trickiness of getting this evenly baked, with the different cooking required of pie and rim, I think it might be unnecessary hassle – NOT required at this time of the year. If you feel confident, though, go for it.


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.


Walnut Whip Pastries

Walnut Whip Pastries
Wotchers!

The idea for these pastries came from watching a film clip on the original Walnut Whip chocolates being hand-piped and filled. I recalled that I hadn’t really done much with the Quick Chocolate Puff Pastry, other than show you the method, and since I’d recently acquired some cream horn tubes, I was all set!

ConesAlas, the best laid plans of tumpty-tumpty-tumpty-tum and all that – MY cream horn tubes weren’t the beautifully sleek examples pictured above, I’d gone for the non-stick style, seen below.

My cones

Which meant I had to devise a way to get my tubes to stand upright in order to form the tapering cones of the walnut whip shape. I won’t bore you with ALL of the trials and tribulations, and the various failed attempts, but I did eventually achieve success combining two differently-shaped ice-cream cones and balancing the metal shapes on top. I’ve seen a few suggestions out there that call for just covering wafer cones with foil, but that doesn’t work (caveat: doesn’t work well enough for me to recommend). To cook properly, all the way through, the pastry needs the high temperature that the metal will get to in a hot oven. Foil never gets hot enough to cook the inside of the pastry thoroughly. I tried.

This is another Lego™ recipe, in that it’s made up of bits and pieces from other recipes, mixed with some new things. I’ve already mentioned the Chocolate Puff Pastry from a few weeks ago. I’ve also used the Bavarian Cream from the Sicilian Seven Veils Cake, and swapped the chocolate flavouring for coffee. The NEW bits in this creation are the candied walnuts and the Crunch Shortbread biscuit used for the base.

I’m going to be straight with you – the pastries have a pretty high FQ (Faff Quotient™) – I only got a dozen usable pastry ‘shells’ from a whole batch of the chocolate pastry (mainly due to my own clumsiness, I’ll admit) – so if it all sounds too much like hard work, just have a bash at the biscuits: they’re seriously good all by themselves!

To make the complete pastries involves making several separate elements, and then assembling them at the end. The whole process can be spread over a few days if necessary. I suggest shaping/baking the pastry as the last task, so that it retains its crispness.

Walnut Whip Pastries

The four elements that need to be made first are:

  • Chocolate Pastry
  • Candied walnuts
  • Bavarian Cream
  • Crunch Shortbread

I know I said to bake the pastry last, but you should MAKE it first, so that it can thoroughly chill in the fridge, and thus be a bit easier to roll out/work with.

1. Chocolate Pastry – click HERE for the recipe and method.

2. Candied Walnuts.

150g caster sugar
cocktail sticks
walnut halves

  • Sprinkle the sugar into a non-tick pan and place on a low heat to melt. Do not stir, as this will cause the sugar to crystallise.
  • If the sugar is melting unevenly, swirl the contents around to mix.
  • While the sugar is melting, pick out the best-looking walnut halves and skewer each half with a cocktail stick, ready for dipping.
  • When all the sugar has melted, and is a deep caramel colour, it’s time to dip the walnuts.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and lay a sheet of parchment paper alongside.
  • Dip each walnut into the caramel and allow the excess to drain off.
  • Place the walnut on the parchment and gently twist the cocktail stick free. The caramel should still be liquid enough to flow over the hole left by the cocktail stick.
  • Allow to cool, then wrap in parchment and keep in an airtight box. The dipped nuts will become sticky if left exposed to the air.

3. Coffee Bavarian Cream
Bavarian cream is basically a custard with added gelatine, with flavourings and cream folded through. If you want to break down the process because of lack of time, it can be made in two parts. The first part is the custard base, the second adding the flavourings and gelatine when ready to use. If you do this, then warm the custard slightly before trying to stir in the soaked gelatine.

125ml milk
1 large egg yolk
18g cornflour
45g sugar
2tsp Espresso coffee powder
2 leaves (4g) gelatine

300ml double cream

  • Soak the gelatine in cold water to cover for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the sugar and the milk until almost boiling.
  • Whisk the cornflour, vanilla and egg yolks together, then gradually whisk in the sweetened milk.
  • Return the mixture to the heat and continue heating and stirring until thickened.
  • Remove custard from the heat.
  • Drain the gelatine and stir into the warm custard until fully dissolved.
  • Cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.
  • Whip the cream to firm peaks, then fold through the cooled coffee custard.
  • Cover with cling film and chill until required.

4. Crunch Shortbread

This is a crumbly, buttery shortbread, but with added feuilletine and ground almonds for two different yet complimentary crunch textures. If you don’t have any feuilletine, use a few crushed crepes dentelles or cornflakes.

135g butter – softened
45g icing sugar
1g salt
135g flour
10g cocoa
25g ground almonds
25g feuilletine

  • Mix the softened butter, sugar, salt, flour, cocoa and ground almonds in a bowl until well combined.
  • Lightly stir in the feuilletine. Try to keep the pieces a reasonable size, so that they can still be discerned in the cooked biscuit.
  • Turn out the mixture onto parchment and lay some clingfilm over the top.
  • Roll the mixture out to between 5-8mm thick and place in the freezer to harden for between 15 and 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Cut the chilled paste into 4cm-ish rounds (I used the rim of a small glass) and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 11-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

5. Chocolate pastry shells

I suggest working with just half of a batch of pastry at a time, since the strips of pastry will be quite long and potentially tricky to handle.

  • Roll the pastry out thinly (5mm), keeping the shape as straight and rectangular as possible. Try and achieve a length of 40-45cm, so that you can make each shell using just a single strip of pastry.
  • Cut the pastry into 1cm wide strips. I find a pizza wheel works best for this, as it doesn’t ‘drag’ the pastry as a knife would. Also, your pastry might be getting a little soft by this stage, with all the rolling. If you think it’s too soft, pop it back into the fridge or freezer to firm up.
  • Grease your cream horn tins.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan.
  • Dampen the strip of pastry you’re about to use, with a pastry brush dipped in water. This will help the pastry stick to itself on each ‘turn.’
  • The Fiddly Bit: Starting at the bottom of your cream horn tins, wrap the strip around to form a level base for your shell, then continue around the tin, overlapping the pastry slightly at each turn. You want to pull the strip a little, to ‘stretch’ it, then wrap it quickly around the cone. As it contracts, it will pull close to the tin and make for a better shape. Don’t pull so much that the pastry breaks! (Tricky to begin with.)
  • Finish your pastry shell about half-way up your cone: you want the top to be about as wide as a walnut, once cooked.
  • Stand your cones in the cups of a cupcake tin, for a little extra stability.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked.
  • Leave to cool on the cones.
  • Once cool, ease the shells gently from the cones and set aside.

 To Assemble

150g dark, 70% chocolate

  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water until completely liquid and smooth.
  • Spoon the Bavarian Coffee Cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.
  • Lay a sheet of parchment onto a tray that will fit into your fridge (to chill the assembled pastries).
  • Lay a piece of clingfilm on the bench in front of you.
  • Have the pastry shells, the biscuits and the candied walnuts to hand.
  • Stage 1 assembly. For each pastry:
    • Take a biscuit and brush the top with melted chocolate (to prevent sogginess from the cream filling).
    • Take a pastry shell and set it upside down onto the clingfilm in front of you.
    • Pipe the coffee cream into the pastry shell until completely full.
    • Use a knife to smooth the cream across the bottom of the pastry shell.
    • Spread melted chocolate over the bottom of the pastry shell and the coffee cream, and, turning the pastry shell over, set it onto the chocolate covered biscuit, where the chocolate should ‘glue’ them together.
    • Paint melted chocolate over the top of the pastry shell, and set a candied walnut on top.
    • Chill in the fridge.
  • Now you could stop here if you like – all the ‘pieces’ are assembled. However, I decided to neaten the pastries up by dipping the bases in the melted chocolate. The biscuit is then completely covered, and the ‘seal’ between the pastry and the biscuit itself has been recinforced with another layer of chocolate.
  • If your chocolate has cooled too much, set it over the pan of hot water until it is melted again.
  • When all the pastries have chilled for at least 20 minutes in the fridge, remove them and dip them in the melted chocolate.
  • Use a pastry brush to even out the chocolate coating.
  • Set onto parchment and chill in the fridge until required.

Chocolate Puff Pastry

Chocolate Puff Pastry Layers

Wotchers!

Home-made, real butter puff pastry. Who has the time – amiright?

The endless rolling and the folding and the turning and the chilling and the repeating……I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

*collapses on nearby chaise-longue and raises a weary hand to the forehead*

Well, here’s the good news – we ALL now have the time, because I’m about to reveal how you can get 729 layers of delicious all-butter puff pastry in less than 1 hour, thanks to this super-speedy method. Bonus: we’re going to do it in chocolate!

OK, so there’s a bit of the rolling and folding in this method, but it takes nowhere near as long as the traditional method.

And of course, you don’t HAVE to make chocolate puff pastry – just replace the cocoa with plain flour – but I thought I’d remind you all of the ease with which favourite recipes can be Chocolatized™.

These quantities make enough for two 30cm x 45cm pieces of pastry.

OK then – let’s get this puff party started!

Chocolate Puff Pastry

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
30g cocoa powder

250g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
ice water to mix

  • Cut the butter into cubes and put into a bowl.
  • Add the cocoa.
  • Mix with either an electric whisk or stand mixer until soft and thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  • Put the flour and cocoa into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade and blitz to mix.
  • With the motor running, gradually add iced water, one spoonful at a time, until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Tip the mixture out and knead smooth.

 

Roll the pastry out to a square of about 30cm.

Roll the pastry out to a square of about 30cm.

pastry and butter

Spread 1/3 of the butter/cocoa mixture over the pastry.

Make the above cuts in the pastry, similar to a partial Noughts and Crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe) grid

Make the above cuts in the pastry, similar to a partial Noughts and Crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe) grid

Fold the top right square diagonally down and to the left, and place it on top of the central square.

Fold the top right square diagonally down and to the left, and place it on top of the central square.

Fold the bottom left square diagonally up and to the right and place it over the central square.

Fold the bottom left square diagonally up and to the right and place it over the central square.

Repeat with the remaining squares in the order indicated above, corners first, followed by the middle squares on each side.

Repeat with the remaining squares in the order indicated above, corners first, followed by the middle squares on each side.

  • Wrap in plastic and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes (9 layers).
  • Roll the pastry out a second time, taking care to keep it as square as possible.
  • Spread half of the remaining cocoa/butter mix over the paste.
  • Cut and fold as before, then wrap and chill again for 15 minutes (81 layers).
  • Roll out a third and final time and use the last of the butter. Cut and fold as before.
  • Wrap in plastic and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight in the fridge (729 layers).
  • Use as you would any regular puff pastry.

Chocolate Mille Feuille


Puff Pastry Things

Puff Pastries

Wotchers!

Fab post title, no? Well, we’re at Week 7 of The Great British Bake Off and the only clues from the Radio Times for the showstopper were “three different types of perfectly puffed pastries”. So this might not bear much resemblance to what the contestants are being asked to produce, but I’m going to take the opportunity to return to an economical approach that I’ve mentioned before, namely That’ll Do Cooking.

During the weekend shop, I splurged on some butter puff pastry (on account of life being too short etc. etc) and then got back and chewed my pencil mightily pondering what to make. A slew of recipes went through my mind, including the number one favourite Curry Puff, the ubiquitous Singaporean snack, which evokes fond memories of my time there.

However, I decided to save Curry Puffs for another time since a) they have an unusual pastry which I wanted to show you, and b) my disappointment about the lack of British baking in this (and last) season’s Bake Off meant that I decided to keep whatever recipe I did to these shores.

The only glitch was – there’s not many traditional recipes that use puff pastry, that aren’t either already in my book (she plugged, shamelessly), or that involved going out on another shopping trip, so I decided to go spelunking in the cupboards/fridge and see whether I could find anything suitable to use.

What I found was half a jar of mincemeat, some cream cheese and some poached pears. So I decided “That’ll Do” and therefore these are what I’ve used in three different ways to create this week’s GBBO-Themed blog post.

They might not be as glamorous as those of the Bake Off contestants tonight, but simple? Yes. Delicious? Definitely. Economical? Absolutely.

That’ll do.

Preparation

  • Mincemeat. Didn’t need to do much to this at all. It was a little on the dry side, but I reasoned that the moisture from the pears would sort that out, and anyways, too much moisture would ruin the pastry.
  • Cream Cheese: I added 2tbs icing sugar and some grated fresh ginger to pep up the flavours. Other additions that would work well are zest/juice of a lemon, candied ginger or even crumbled blue cheese and walnuts for a fab sweet/savoury mix.
  • Poached Pears: Since they were already poached, not much to do to them, apart from drain from the syrup. To prepare some from raw, peel, halve and core, then simmer gently in a mixture of 1 cup of white wine, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar until cooked but firm.

Stuffed Pear in Lattice Pastry

If you’re lucky enough to have a lattice roller, then this is a doddle. Even so, cutting the lattice ‘freehand’ isn’t difficult.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly.
  • Stuff a pear half with the filling of your choice. I used the ginger cream cheese.
  • Lay the pear half onto the pastry, with the filling contained underneath.
  • Cut around the pear leaving a 2cm border of pastry.
  • Moisten the pastry border with water.
  • Cut a lattice with your roller, or by hand.
  • Ease the lattice apart – you don’t want to stretch the pastry, but have it just wide enough to be able to see the pear through the holes.
  • Drape the lattice over your pear and press the edges into the moistened pastry border.
  • Cut two leaves from the pastry offcuts and attach to the top of the pear.
  • If possible, lay the finished pears in greased, shallow Yorkshire Pudding tins, with the leaves resting on the edge. This will make them stand up nicely when baked.
  • Brush the pastry with egg-yolk whisked with a little water to glaze.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Stuffed Pear in wrapped pastry

Possibly a little trickier to handle than the lattice pastry, but requiring no special skill or equipment.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly.
  • Cut 1.5cm strips of pastry. You will need 4-5 for each pear, depending on size.
  • Sandwich two halves of pear with the filling of your choice. I opted for the slightly firmer mincemeat filling here, as it worked well in holding the pear halves together.
  • Starting at the top, wrap the strips of pastry around the pear, making sure they overlap by about half.
  • Cover any gap at the top with either some pastry leaves or use some mini cutters to make shapes.
  • Place on a lined baking sheet or, if they will fit, greased cupcake/muffin tins – the sides of the tins will help keep the pears upright as they bake.
  • Brush the pastry with egg-yolk whisked with a little water to glaze.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Pear Tart

This looks very intricate, but really it’s just a re-hash of some Valentine’s Pastries I did last year. This time I’ve cut larger squares to make room for the filling, and baked them in greased, shallow Yorkshire Pudding tins so that the edges curl up.

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
  • Roll the pastry out thinly.
  • Cut into 10-12cm squares and then cut the corners as indicated in the diagram.

Pastry Cuts

  • Transfer the prepared squares into the tins – so much easier than when they are filled.
  • Thin the pastry a little by pressing it with your thumb, just over the base of the tin – this helps the sides to puff up and over the filling.
  • Spread a layer of mincemeat on the bottom, and top with a pear half stuffed with the ginger cream cheese filling.
  • Fold the four corners inward and press onto the top of the pear.
  • Using mini cutters, cut a small shape to stick on top to cover the ends of the corners. Alternatively, make the pastry scraps into leaves.
  • Brush the pastry with egg-yolk whisked with a little water to glaze.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve.