Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Baking spree

I love to get my bake on, but it usually takes the incentive of people to actually eat what I've produced to get me into the kitchen these days.

A Thanksgiving meal for 15 (at an incredible house with a huge terrace tucked away in Laurel Canyon) seemed like pretty much the perfect opportunity. Plus pumpkin pie is an atrocity I will never willingly eat, so I thought it might be nice to whip up a couple of alternative options.

I know I already posted pictures. But whatever. Humour, me, ok? I'm proud of my (semi-successful) efforts.

Pie number one: Razzleberry

Simples. I found a recipe here, halved it because I was only planning on making one pie, and accidentally misread the recipe/got a bit stressed out in the supermarket and bought frozen pie crusts instead of chilled. Which meant my little lattice strips kinda broke apart because, well, duh. Frozen pastry is friable.

It didn't seem to make much difference in the end, though. The razzleberry filling was a winner - the sweetness of blueberries vs the tartness of raspberries (oh, and I added some lemon juice to the mix because I love sharp-tasting fillings) worked pretty damn well.

The pastry, on the other hand, was fine, but, well, only fine. As ready-made pastry usually is.

But I was saving my pastry-making efforts for...

Pie number 2: Maple Pecan

I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for an unshrinkable sweet tart shell which promised no baking weights would be required. Which pretty much had me sold, because: a) I don't have baking beads, and b) once you've used dried beans or rice for the pointless purpose of weighing your pastry down, they're useless.

I don't have a food processor, so I went rogue and made the pastry by hand, and it all went pretty well until it was time to transfer the rolled pastry to the tart tin. That took at least five attempts, and all of my (very small) reserves of patience.

I made the filling using this recipe, which was all well and good until I poured it into the tart shell. At which point it leaked out of the bottom. Copiously. All over the hob, all over the oven and all over the baking tray I hastily shoved underneath the tin.

I guess my pastry wasn't tough enough/intact enough to handle such a liquid-y filling? But there wasn't much I could do except hope there'd be enough filling left to render the pie edible.

And, actually, despite the fact that there should have been at least a third more maple-ness than there was, it was fine. The pastry was really great - crumbly but not too crumbly, sweet but not too sweet. And part of me thinks the pie might have been overwhelmingly sugary if there'd been much more filling.

Oh - and I think it actually tasted even better eaten with a cup of tea on Friday, two days after I made it, than on Thanksgiving itself.


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