Tag Archives: pastry

SPICY BUTTER BEAN PIES with PAPRIKA CRUST

spicy butter bean pie

Oh. My. Word! This is very exciting for me. Probably less for you guys but put yourself in my shoes for a moment. I’ve never even eaten a hand raised hot water crust pie let alone baked one. Let alone baked one that’s really good. On my first attempt! Okay, enough trumpet blowing, but seriously, I’m so pleased with these.
I’m a bit of a pastry fiend, sweet and savoury, so I’ve always been a bit put out that I can’t (usually) indulge in traditional hand raised pies. They always seem to be meat filled and more often than not the crusts are made with lard. No good for meat averse me.
But it’s not just the light, crisp, buttery crust that’s really good on these. The filling is delicious, warming and hearty but not heavy or stodgy. Yep, I’m marking these down as an all round winner. I can’t wait to try out some more variations of these beauties.

spicy butter bean pie

Ingredients
Makes 2 decent sized pies

filling
1 tsp olive oil
1 small red onion
1 medium carrot
1 can butter beans
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
100g tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
50g cheese (any full flavour medium fat one you like)

crust
100g plain flour
30g bread flour
50g butter
50ml boiling water
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 tsp paprika

spicy butter bean pie

Dice the onion and carrot (fairly small) and gently fry them in the oil until they are just starting to colour. Mince the garlic and add that to the pan along with the spices and seasonings. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the beans. Mix in the tomato paste and cook until it has lost its ‘raw’ taste. Remove from the heat and mix in the parsley and the cheese, which will help to bind everything together. The filling should be quite thick. Leave this to cool whilst you make the pastry. You don’t want to try to fill warm pastry with warm filling, that will get you into all sorts of bother!
To make the hot water crust melt the butter in the boiling water. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, salt and paprika. Lightly beat the egg and set aside a spoonful of it for glazing the pies before baking. Use a butter knife to mix the remaining egg into the flour. Pour in the hot water/butter mixture and combine everything so that you have a very soft pliable dough. It’s okay if you need to sprinkle in a tiny bit more plain flour to absorb any excess stickiness.
Divide the dough into two and then pull about a quarter off each ball. On a lightly floured surface use the tips of your fingers to pat out the larger balls to about 7 inch discs and the small ones to about 5 inches. Cut a couple of slits in the centre of the smaller discs.
Pile half of the filing on to each of the larger discs and place the smaller disc on top. Gently bring up the sides of the pastry and crimp them together with the lid, making sure that everything is well sealed. If you want to you can use a fork to press around the edges too.

spicy butter bean pie
If, like me you don’t trust everything to hold together in the oven then wrap and tie some strips of baking parchment around the pies for a bit of structural support. Use a fish slice (dipping it in flour makes this easier) to transfer the pies to a greased baking tray.
Chill the pies in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (they can sit there for longer if you aren’t quite ready to bake them yet). Brush the tops of the pies with some of the remaining beaten egg and then bake them in an oven pre heated to 200°c for 35 minutes, until they are golden brown and the pastry is crisp.

spicy butter bean pie

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BRANDY APPLE PIE

Brandy apple pie

I’ve made a fair few apple pies in my time. They’re one of my preferred vehicles for clotted cream, especially in the colder months. Plus I’m continuing my quest to make pastry as good as my Grandma used to make, one day I’ll get there.

Brandy apple pie

Now she never put booze in her dough but following my success using gin in a tarte au citron during the summer I thought it might be worth slinging some in a pie too. Now here’s the science part. The theory is the alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water so subbing it in place of water should make for lighter, crisper pastry.
Don’t worry if you aren’t that keen on the idea of a boozy pie. It doesn’t taste boozy at all, and of course the actual alcohol bakes off (which is kind of the point). It really does just leave you with light crisp pastry. It’s some of my best pastry work, I’m slowly and surely getting closer to my Grandma-goal.

Brandy apple pie

There’s enough pastry here for a standard double crust pie so please don’t feel obliged to spend ages making a fancy cut-out top if that’s not your thing. I just have too much time on my hands some days!

Ingredients

Pastry
300g plain flour
175g butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soft brown sugar
3-4 tbsp brandy

Filling
5-6 apples
75g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp brandy
15g (ish) butter

1 beaten egg and white sugar to finish off

brandy apple pie

Cut the cold butter into small pieces and gently rub it into the flour with the tips of your fingers, until it resembles bread crumbs. Mix in the salt and sugar with a fork. Use the brandy to bring the mixture together to form a ball of dough. Add the liquid a tablespoon at a time so that you don’t end up adding too much. Flatten the ball a little and wrap it in cling film. Pop it in the fridge to chill and relax for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and lightly grease a 20cm pie tin.
Peel, core and slice the apples quite thinly. Whisk together the sugar, salt, cornflour and spices in a large mixing bowl and then toss the apple in this. Sprinkle over the brandy.
Take the pastry from the fridge and cut it in two, make one piece slightly larger than the other. Roll the larger piece out so that it’s a few millimeters thick and large enough to line the pie tin. Do this either on a lightly floured surface or on a piece of parchment paper. I prefer to do it this way as it makes it easier to transfer it to the tin later.
Carefully place the rolled pastry into the pie tin and gently push it into the corners. Leave a little over hang at the edge. Tip the apples into the lined tin and spread them out. Dot the surface with butter.

Brandy apple pie
Roll out the remaining dough, again to that it is a few millimeters thick and a little larger than the size of the pie. If you want to do some fancy cut outs on the top of the pie then now is the time to do it. Brush the edge of the pie with a little of the beaten egg and carefully place on the lid. Gently push it down around the edges to seal the pie. Trim and crimp the edge however you like, the easiest thing is just to press down the edges with the tines of a fork. Add any extra pastry embellishments you like (made from any leftover scraps of pastry), using the beaten egg as a glue. Brush the whole pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake the pie for 45 minutes, until the apples are soft and the pastry is golden brown.
Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving so that the juices can thicken. Serve with homemade custard, ice cream or glorious velvety Cornish clotted cream.

Brandy apple pie

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NUTELLA PROFITEROLES

Nutella profiteroles

I wasn’t joking the other week when I said that I needed more choux pastry in my life. If you’ve never tried to make it before I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. You don’t even need any fancy equipment to make profiteroles either, just a saucepan, a wooden spoon, a baking sheet and a couple of teaspoons. It’s pretty quick, super easy and will make you feel all sorts of fancy when you show off your patisserie skills.
The filling of these is a super-simple two ingredient Nutella mousse (it’s just whipped cream and yummy Nutella but shhhh…don’t tell anyone.) Despite being so simple it tastes incredible, which let’s be honest, most things made with Nutella do!
I don’t like to serve these with the classic chocolate sauce because I think that it over powers the mousse, and tends to make them a bit too sweet. Just a little chocolate decoration is all that required.
Mr Colonial Cravings was a huge fan of these, I’m pretty sure that if I’d left him alone with them he would have eaten all 16 in one go.

Nutella profiteroles

Ingredients
makes 16

choux pastry
60g butter
120ml water
75g plain flour
2 eggs

filling
200ml double cream
100g nutella

chocolate to decorate

Nutella profiteroles

Pre-heat the oven to 200°c and line a large baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat.
Put the butter and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and tip in all of the flour. Vigorously beat it with a wooden spoon until you end up with a ball of dough that has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Lightly beat the eggs. Add about a third of the egg to the pan and beat it in. Once it has been absorbed add another third and beat it again. After the third and final addition of egg, the dough should become soft, smooth and glossy.
Use a couple of teaspoons to drop blobs of the dough onto the prepared baking tray. If you need to smooth off any edges or pointy bits then just dip your finger in a little water first.
Bake the choux pastry for 30 minutes then turn off the oven and open the door a bit, leave them in the oven for a further 10 minutes to dry out a little.
Once they are done you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool. I would recommend poking a little hole in them, somewhere discreet, to let the steam out and prevent them from becoming soggy. You can use this later when you fill them.

Nutella profiteroles
Softly whip the cream for the filling, so that it just holds its shape. Take a big dollop of the cream and mix it into the Nutella to lighten it a bit. Transfer this mixture back into the rest of the cream and whip it again, until it becomes more stiff, but be careful not to over-whip it.
Put the Nutella mousse in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Insert the tip into the steam hole that you created in each of the cooled profiteroles and gently squeeze in the filling. Drizzle the top of each one with a little melted chocolate and then pop them in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.

Nutella profiteroles

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WHISKY HONEYCOMB ECLAIRS

Whisky honeycomb eclairs

I think that maybe there should be more choux pastry in my life. It’s way easier to make than you might think. In fact, provided you’ve got strong wrists for all that beating, I think it might be one of the easiest pastries to make.
And who doesn’t love an eclair now and then. Or profiteroles. Or Paris-Brest. Or gateau St. Honore. I think you get the point…
These are made from lovely light and crisp pastry filled to the brim with boozy honey-bourbon whipped cream and crowned with a rich dark chocolate ganache and crunchy honeycomb. Yeah, you know you want it.
I made my honeycomb because it’s dead easy and I couldn’t find any here but you could just crush up a Crunchie if that works better for you.

Whisky honeycomb eclairs

Ingredients
makes 6 small eclairs or 4 full size ones

Choux pastry
30g butter
60ml water
35g plain flour
1 egg

Bourbon honey cream
120ml double cream
20ml bourbon
1-2 tsp honey

Chocolate topping
30g dark chocolate
5g butter
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cream

crushed honeycomb to decorate

Whisky honeycomb eclairs

Pre-heat the oven to 200°c and line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat.
Put the butter and water in a medium saucepan and bring it to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and tip in the flour, all in one go. Vigorously beat it with a wooden spoon until you end up with a ball of dough that has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Lightly beat the egg and add about half of it to the pan. Beat this in, once it has been absorbed add the rest of the egg and beat it again. The dough should become soft, smooth and glossy.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a very large round nozzle (or if you have disposable bags you can just snip the end off). Pipe the dough onto the tray in thick strips, mine were about 4″ long. If you need to smooth off any edges then just dip your finger in a little water first.
Bake the eclairs for 30 minutes then turn off the oven and open the door a little, leave them in the oven for a further 10 minutes to dry out a little.
Once they are done you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool. I would recommend poking a little hole in the bottom or side to let the steam out and prevent them from becoming soggy.

Whisky honeycomb eclairs
Put all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and whip them until they are thick and fluffy. If you want to pipe in the filling then put this mixture into a piping bag fitted with a smallish nozzle. Otherwise you slice each of the cooled eclairs down the side and spoon in the cream. If you are piping it in then you can enlarge the steam holes a little so that you can poke the tip of the piping nozzle in and then gently squeeze in the filling.
To make the topping put the butter, cream and honey in a small pan and gently heat them over a very low heat. Finely chop the chocolate and then add this to the pan too and stir it until it has melted and combined to form a smooth ganache. Let this cool for a moment or two and then spread it onto the top of the eclairs. Before it sets sprinkle on a bit of crushed honeycomb as a decoration.

Whisky honeycomb eclairs

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GIN AND LEMON TART

gin and lemon tart

I was recently sent a newspaper clipping with ‘useful’ tips for gin (thanks Kath). Some of the tips were a bit silly, “why not use gin as an air-freshener?” Because I don’t want my house to smell like a 18th century tavern. “Why not use it as an aftershave?” Because I don’t want my husband to smell like an 18th century tavern. “Why not use gin as a mouthwash?” Because I don’t want to get pulled over on my drive to the gym every morning.
One of the tips, however, did make a lot of sense to me. “Why not use gin in pastry?” The chemists daughter in me thinks this actually makes a lot of sense, not just from a flavour point of view, but because the alcohol will evaporate at a different rate to water, therefore giving you a lighter, flakier crust. That has to be worth a try. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for sticking booze in my food so why stop now? I think it worked too, the crust on this is rich and buttery but also very crisp and delicate.

gin and lemon tart
I like a creamy, custardy filling in a lemon tart, rather than the lemon meringue pie curd type. This one is very softly set and extremely tangy with a little warmth from the gin at the end. The booze also adds some very subtle botanical undertones so make sure that you pick a really nice quality gin.
I’m not sure that I could think of a better summer dessert than this!

gin and lemon tart

Ingredients
serves 12

Pastry
170g plain flour
100g cold butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
25ml citrusy gin (I used Green Hat spring/summer edition)

Filling
150g icing sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
zest and juice of 2 lemons
200g sour cream
50ml of the same gin you used in the pastry

gin and lemon tart

Mix together the flour and icing sugar, ensuring that they are well blended. Cut the butter into small pieces and then lightly rub this into the flour mixture, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Beat together the egg yolk and the gin and use this to bring the dry mixture together to form a nice soft dough, you might not need all of the liquid so add it a bit at a time. If you need more liquid then add a tiny splash more gin. As always, when making pastry, you want to keep the mixing and handling to the bare minimum so that it doesn’t become tough. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film, flatten it a little and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes to relax. Grease a 23cm, loose bottomed tart tin.

lemon & gin tart
After the dough has done relaxing, roll it out so that it is big enough to fill the tin. I do this between pieces of cling film so that I don’t work any extra flour into it but by all means use a lightly floured surface if you prefer that. Line the tin with the pastry, gently pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. I also tend to leave a little overhang (you can trim it after it’s cooked) to allow for any shrinkage during baking. Recover the pastry case and put it back in the fridge to relax again for 20 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 190°c.
Prick the pastry base with a fork and cover it with a piece of grease-proof paper and then pile on some baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and uncover it before returning it to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Once it is fully baked take the pastry case out and turn the oven down to 150°c.
At this point you can start on the filling. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon zest in a jug, then beat in the eggs and finally the lemon juice. Leave this to stand in the fridge whilst the oven cools down (for 10-15 minutes) so that the flavours can develop. when you are ready beat in the sour cream and finally the gin, making sure the filling is very smooth.

Doing a pretty good impression of Pac-Man!

Doing a pretty good impression of Pac-Man!

Put the pastry case in the oven and carefully pour then filling into it in there, it’s much easier than trying to fill it and then transfer it to the oven, there’s no way my hands are that steady.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes. It should have a little wobble to it, like a cheesecake, when it’s ready. Turn the oven off and open the door but leave that tart in there to cool down before putting it in the fridge to chill before serving.
I’ve garnished mine with a couple of leaves that I made from some leftover pastry (which got a bit too brown!), a caramelised lemon slice and a dusting of icing sugar.

gin and lemon tart

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CRANBERRY AND ORANGE MERINGUE PIE

Cranberry and orange meringue pie

This is a Christmassy version of the summer classic, lemon meringue pie. I made it for my Thanksgiving dessert this year, I always try to find lighter alternatives to the traditional heavy festive puddings that tend to be served after an already rich and heavy meal.

This has a lovely buttery-crisp pastry, a tart, refreshingly fruity filling and chewy, fluffy, crisp, sweet meringue billowing over the top.
If you plan on making your own pastry case then it does take a little more time and effort (worth it though) but otherwise it’s a fairly straight-forward dessert and it can always be made a little ahead of time and then warmed up a bit before serving.

Ingredients
serves 8-10

Pastry
100g butter
200g plain flour
30g icing sugar
4 tbsp (ish) milk

Filling
250g cranberries (fresh or frozen)
juice of 3 oranges
3 tbsp cornflour
100g sugar
85g butter
3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg

Meringue
4 egg whites
200g sugar
1 tbsp cornflour

Cranberry and orange meringue pie

To make the pastry, combine the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and lightly rub this into the flour mix with your fingertips. Work quickly and gently. Delicate fingers make delicate pastry. Once it starts to look like fine breadcrumbs use a little milk to bring it together to form a soft ball of dough. Only add as much milk as needed, one tablespoon at a time. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap it in cling-film. Put this in the fridge to relax for 15 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 220°c.
Roll the dough out so that it is large enough to line your pie tin. I like to do this on a piece of parchment paper so that I don’t incorporate any extra flour into it, which can make it tough. Lightly grease your pie tin and place the dough into it. Gently push the dough into the nooks and crannies of the tin and prick the base all over with a fork. Cover with foil or parchment and fill the tin with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes, uncover and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until it’s golden and cooked through. Leave to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the filling.
Simmer the cranberries in a large shallow pan with a couple of tablespoons of water for 15 minutes. Remove them from the heat and squash all of the un-popped berries. This is very therapeutic, it’s like fruity bubble wrap. Push this pulp through a fine sieve to leave you with several tablespoons of thick purée. Discard the remaining skins and seeds.
Whisk together the orange juice and cornflour in a large, heavy based saucepan. Stir in the cranberry purée and the sugar. Place the pan on a low to moderate heat and stir constantly until it has thickened, like custard. Remove the pan from the heat and cut the butter into small pieces before adding to the fruity mixture. Beat this in well, ensuring that it has all melted before adding the egg yolks, one at a time. Make sure that the mixture isn’t still too hot before you do this or you’ll get fruity scrambled eggs, not nice! Finally beat in the whole egg and return the pan to a very gentle heat. Continue to stir/beat the mixture until it becomes very thick then set aside to cool a little whilst you make the meringue topping.

Cranberry and orange meringue pie
Place the egg whites in a very large clean bowl and whip them until they hold stiff peaks. Whisk in the sugar in two or three batches. Make sure that each addition has dissolved into the egg white before moving onto the next. Just rub a little of it between your fingers to check that it doesn’t feel gritty. The meringue should become thick and glossy. Finally sprinkle over the cornflour and whisk it in, this is what helps to give the meringue its chewy quality.
Pour the fruity filling into the tart case and spread it out in an even layer. Top this with the meringue, spreading it right out onto the edges of the pastry. Try to create a ‘peaky’ effect in the meringue so that it is quite tall with lots of points and spikes that will become golden and crisp.
Bake the pie for 20-25 minutes, until the meringue has coloured a little and become crisp on the surface. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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APPLE AND CHEDDAR GALETTE

Apple & cheddar galette

You know those people who say they would rather have a starter than a dessert? Lets call them ‘oddies’ shall we. Well this may well be the dessert for them. Apple and cheese isn’t that unusual for a dessert, especially here in the States. I’ve definitely been in diners where you can have your apple pie with whipped cream, ice cream or a slice of melted cheddar cheese. My mum told me that when she recently made my apple honey oat cake (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/tag/apple/) my dad quite cheerily polished off a few slices topped with some cheese.
This is a lovely combination of flavours, the subtly cheesy crust works really well with the spices and the sweetness of the apples. Eating apples are your best bet for this (you can’t get good old Bramleys on this side of the pond anyway) but they need to be something that will keep their shape and not break down too much. The best thing about making a galette instead of a pie is that it looks like you’ve made a real effort but it only takes a few moments to assemble! (Shhh, don’t tell anyone…)

Apple & cheddar galette

Ingredients
serves 8

200g plain flour
60g cold butter
60g finely grated mature cheddar
4-5 tbsp cold water
2 large apples
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tbsp semolina
egg wash

Apple & cheddar galette

For the pastry, rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until you have a mixture that looks like fine breadcrumbs. Mix in cheese, make sure that it is well-distributed. Use a little cold water to combine this into a nice lump of dough, add the water one tablespoon at a time. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
In the meantime you can preheat the oven to 230°c and prepare the filling.
Apple & cheddar galette Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. I have a little gadgety doo-hickey that does it all in one for me at the turn of a handle. Mix together the spices and sugar in a large bowl a toss the apples in this. Roll out the chilled dough on a large piece of parchment. You want the dough to be a few millimetres thick and to be about 12 inches in diameter. (Sorry for mixing my measurements there) Scatter the semolina over the centre of the pastry disc (to prevent any sogginess) and pile on the apples, leave a couple of inches around the edge. Fold up the edges and brush them with egg wash before sprinkling with a little sugar.
Place the galette (still on the parchment) onto a large baking sheet and pop it in the oven. Bake it for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 190°c and continue to bake it for a further 25 minutes. Leave the galette to cool a bit before serving, it’s best warm rather than hot.

Apple & cheddar galette

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