Monday, 20 October 2008

The Best Pies in London


To misquote Mrs Lovett of Sweeny Todd slightly. Apple again (so probably not only am I misquoting Mrs Lovett but I'm making pies far too vegetarian in content for her liking, so I'm stopping with all Sweeny references now as she scares me, even if she is only fictional) and you'll be pleased to hear that I have finally beaten my pastry demons.

The bad back demanded a quiet weekend; last you heard I was still pyjamaed and contemplating something other than biscuits for breakfast. Surprisingly enough I managed to finally heave myself out of my bed (what can I say? James Martin on Saturday Kitchen ending were just about prompt enough) and found my way to the local supermarket to stock up on supplies for a pie centric afternoon.


First of all I made the pastry, determined that this time I would make edible pastry that would not crack and would not taste like it should be wrapped around a sausage. I just about succeeded, using the same recipe as before but removing all fannying about from the method. So I know some of you will be sad to hear that I was no longer stood on steps to seive my flour, and it's sad but true. In order to make a pie with bottom and top layers of pastry I doubled the quantities from last time.


240g plain flour

120g Trex (changed from half butter-half Trex last time)

2 egg yolks

cold water to bind


Despite having practically no circulation to my extremeties (it's OK, I'm used to it) I decided to stick with the food processor method advocated by Nigella, and blitzed up the fat and flour until it looked like breadcrumbs. At this point I added the egg yolks and 3 dessert spoons of cold water at which point the pastry dough took. I tipped it out of the processor and gave it a single knead before putting it in a freezer bag and leaving that in the fridge.


I peeled and chopped a mixture of cooking and eating apples, which I then tossed in some sugar and orange juice over a low heat for about 5 minutes or so. At this point I started to get antsy, I knew that the pastry needed a good half hour in the fridge but wanted to get it over with now. It being the disaster that is pastry in my hands.


To occupy myself I made tea, I talked to the dog, and when neither of those diverted me for more than 5 minutes. I put the Spring Awakening soundtrack on full blast and scared the boyfriend by belting a top A in Mama Who Bore Me (reprise). Truth be told I scared myself and had to have a little sit down afterwards. I don't think my back is ever going to heal if I keep trying to push my vocal range to a part suited to 18 year olds. Just in case you're bored and wating for pastry to do whatever it does whilst in the fridge here's some Spring Awakening (OBC of course) goodness to keep you occupied and out of mischief. Also, there's no top A in this video to scare your partner with. Winner.


video


So eventually the pastry did come out of the fridge and I split it roughly into two halves, popping one back in there (no I was not taking any chances). Having floured the worktop and rolling pin approximately 27 minutes previously, I was ready and raring to go. Somewhere in my head I had it that I should roll for a bit and then do a quarter turn and flip (the pastry, I'm not on a trampoline or anything here) so that's what I did and it was remarkably, surprisingly successful. At this point I started to get stressed as the boyfriend had decided to use the oven for meringues which weren't on the list of things to make (he was using up my spare egg whites but still... really people!) and I had no idea if the oven was going to be hot enough to blind bake my pastry. Clearly the cooking gods were listening to my silent prayers... and it was just about hot enough. Oh the pan I raved about in my previous pastry related post, not so much to rave about. Baking beans and parchment paper would have done just as well. If we're being hyper critical I think I underestimated the shrinkage of the pastry, otherwise all was good and sighs of relief were heard for miles around, along with the phrase "do we have any wine?'.


I filled the pastry case with the lightly cooked apples, and took to rolling out the pastry lid. I confess that the first attempt at this wasn't successful so I re-kneaded it and re-rolled it out, not swearing at all, although I may have been singing again. This time the shape and thickness seemed about right and I trimmed off the edges. Boyfriend helpfully reminded me to seal the edges (which I hadn't thought about) and I egg-washed and dusted it with caster sugar before putting it in the oven for about 40 minutes. I added the apple to show off. As you do.


This time I filled the unendurable wait with making a fish pie, loosley based on a Jamie Oliver recipe, that I had ingeniously not remembered to write down, so sort of collated from memory. I used creme fraiche as the basis for a very light cheese sauce that covered undyed smoked haddock, and pollock, with a base of onion, carrot, and parsley. Finally I stirred in leaf spinach to the sauce and added it to the dish which already had the uncooked fish in it. We then topped this with mashed potato and shoved it in the oven for about 45 minutes. It should have had hard boiled eggs in it, but 1) I forgot, and 2) I'm not a fan so I'm quite glad I forgot. This was served with peas (and because I'm common, tomato ketchup for me) to raving of the good sort from the boyfriend. All in a days work.




We had the apple pie on our laps in front of Strictly with home-made custard and I have to say not only did it look fantastic, but it tasted great. I don't know if it's the fact that everything was more compacted than the last attempt - Nigella is right, baking is the one time when you really do need the right size tin - but again the pastry was very short and light and this time it worked with the filling. Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please... I think we can say that the pastry demons have been conquered.

3 comments:

Jules said...

Both your pies look great!

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

Wow, that's a great looking pie!

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Mrs Lovett scares me too :) Both pies look gorgeous, and *yay* the pastry worked out for you! And oh my gosh you should hear me warbling away to MWBM reprise. It's quite awful LOL.

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