Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Goodbye to blueberry pie

I've resisted posting this debacle as if in not admitting it publicly I can deny the existence of the ill fated pastry. The pastry which I cleverly built up in my previous post to Patti Lupone Gypsy like proportions (not that she's huge, but the hype and all that was) only to epically fail. Like Carrie, or Lestat. Yes, they're musical theatre references all the way, but the subject matter is still pastry. Or, as it has been known in this house 'pastry of DOOM'. I was not happy. I may have sulked. Pouted even.
Anyway to start at the very beginning (It being a very good place to start and all that) it seemed like it was a possible success, I had read everything Nigella and Delia had to say on the matter and made several key decisions:

  • I was going to find and use half Trex and half butter

  • I had located a step to stand on to sift from on high (I kid you not, I'm only 5 feet 4 tall)

  • I wasn't going to make the pastry by hand; the last two weekends have bucked the trend of the summer thus far and been full of sunshine and flowers. Taking this into account I decided that the food processor was the way forward.

Making the pastry was surprisingly easy, it did exactly as Nigella said it would in the How to Eat recipe for rich shortcrust:

120g flour

60g butter, cold and cut into 1cm dice

1 egg yolk

1 tsp orange juice

However, I made one small error. Tiny really. In most of my cooking it would have barely warranted a second thought. Here it was, well fatal really. I don't have a pie dish (20cm deep or otherwise), flatmate doesn't have a pie dish. So I improvised (all those Tuesday nights at the theatre by the side of Leicester Square kind of paid off after all) and used a terracotta baking dish that we use for pretty much everything. And no I didn't think to measure it. Yes, I know that now.

I had tossed the fruit in some demerera sugar, and orange juice and added in the blackberries. Being actually not a fan of a lot of pastry (ironic I know) I had decided to just use a pastry top and so set to rolling out the pastry to roughly the size of the dish. Biggish? My lunch date had turned up by now and I was trying not to a) swear or b) cry whilst trying to simultaneously roll pastry out and work out if I could make it to Morrison's and back with a shop bought apple and blackberry pie.* Amazingly I had a bolt of genius and realised that the pastry wasn't going to stick to the pie dish without some other pastry to adhere to. Feeling slightly smug I used the trimmings on the edge of the dish and stuck the other pastry to it, dusting that with caster sugar as directed by Ni-bloody-gella. I've still not lost my temper or wept publicly. The pastry on the other hand clearly felt the tension seeping out of my body and cracked under the pressure. But I pressed on nontheless, and put it in the oven.

Meanwhile the lunch date and I retired to the garden to eat our unseasonal Shepherds pie (fortunately this was a hit and we both required tomato ketchup - it's destiny) which during the planning period had not been seasonal enough and possibly needed extra stodge to provide enough body heat to get us through the day. However, being English and it being a general return to one's childhood we both fell happily on my old faithful Good Housekeeping recipe (circa 1992, possibly earlier)

And back to the pastry... It was cooked, and dished up with some yummy vanilla icecream to go with. But I say dished up as slicing wasn't possible. As soon as you touched said pastry it disintegrated - as did I (internally still). I managed to sort of shovel a portion into both bowls and if you mixed it in with the filling it kind of worked. If you tried to eat it separately it was all kinds of wrong, and should have been wrapped around a sausage of some description. All credit in that it was as hoped short and light, but it tasted wrong, and really that's what matters isn't it? I spoke to one's oracle in such situations (not actually being related to Nigella or Delia of course that's my Mother) and she is adamant that unless the filling was particularly tart, like rhubarb then a rich shortcrust would have been fine. And lunch date agreed. I still maintain it needed some sweetness to it.

I'll be honest with you, as always, I haven't braved pastry again. But I have purchased (in a decidedly restrained Lakeland order) the following pan for next time. For there shall be a next time and I shall beat the demon that is pastry. *fingers crossed and all that*

There was some success to the weekend, around the pastry disasters I did get to meet Scott Alan the composer of some of my favourite music, Jenna Leigh Green (not just Libby in Sabrina, also an amazing Ivy in Bare) and Eden Espinosa - another Elphaba. We visited Dress Circle (the spiritual home of Musical Theatre in London) for a signing and chat with Scott, Jenna and Eden. The latter two were entirely unexpected, and a delightful surprise. Scott's singing was, as I expected, beautiful - although I can now no longer listen to Goodnight without crying as I just wish it had been around when we were losing my Dad, and his chat was at once hysterical, fairly filthy and so open. The concert on Sunday night had some amazing performances (although no one can live up to Jonthan's interpretation of Now in my mind), Never Never Land being a real favourite of mine. I don't know why but there's just something about that song that really resonates with me. And Goodnight reduced me to tears. Again.

*Answers are: a) not out loud b) decided to suck it up and hope for the best.


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Sooo sorry to hear that the pastry didn't work for you. I love that you climbed on a step to sift it! Sounds like you had an amazing, moving time at the Dress Circle. Gotta say, I *squeed* a little at Eden Espinosa. She's pretty fierce! :)

Pen said...

Eden is fierce, and cuts her own fringe as she informed us. I will email you something you should like shortly xxx I'm working on the pastry, may use a higher step next time ;-)


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