How about these for a sweet treat? Crisp little pastry shells filled to the brim with homemade chocolate and caramelised hazelnut ganache. You know you wouldn’t be able to say ‘no’ to one of these (or two, or three). The trick with these is to […]
After so many years away I’d forgotten how erratic the weather during British springtime can be. It actually snowed on my birthday last week. Snow in April. In the (almost) South West of England. Crazy. Admittedly it was quite sleety and only lasted for about 20 minutes but I think you get my point. We’ve had a few days of glorious warmth and sunshine too mind you. It just can’t seem to make up its mind.
So I don’t know if I should be making hearty warming food or lighter spring flavours. I’m in quite a pickle! Hence this pie, which is a mix of orchard fruits and summer berries and is equally delicious served hot or cold. The buttery, flaky, lemon infused pastry is really delicious and the fruit combine really well for both flavour and texture.
The amount of apples and pears that you’ll need really depends on how deep your pie dish is, mine is very deep so you may not need quite as much filling as I did. There should be plenty of pastry here to make a full top and bottom crust if you don’t like the idea of fiddling around with a lattice top.
300g plain flour
175g fridge-cold butter
pinch of salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
zest of 1 lemon
4-5 dessert apples
2 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 beaten egg and white sugar to finish off
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 through the ginger, lemon zest, salt and sugar with a fork. Use just enough cold water to bring the mixture together to form a soft ball of dough. I usually find 4-5 tbsp is enough. Flatten the ball of dough a little and wrap it in cling film. Pop it in the fridge to chill and relax for at least 30 minutes but you can leave it over night if you need to.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and lightly grease a 20cm pie tin.
Take the pastry from the fridge and cut off about a third of it. Roll the larger piece out so that it’s a few millimetres 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.
Peel, core and slice the apples and pears quite thinly. Whisk together the sugar, salt and cornflour in a large bowl and then toss the fruit, including the berries, into this. Tip the fruit into the lined tin and spread it out.
Roll out the remaining dough, again so that it is a few millimetres 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. 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 fruit is tender and the pastry is golden brown. If your pastry starts to brown too much during baking then just cover the top of the pie with a piece of kitchen foil.
Leave the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving so that the juices can thicken.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘lemon meringue pie is a classic, you don’t need to mess around with it.’ But I say a change is as good as a rest so why not try something a little bit different?
This pie still has all the deliciousness of a pillowy cloud of meringue, crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle but the filling hiding below is a little bit sharper, a little more punchy.
Then there’s the crust. Rich and flaky and crisp with just a touch of thyme to complement all that citrus zing. So delicious!
I usually find 3 egg whites makes enough meringue for this pie but if you want to use more then you can, I’ve listed what you’ll need for each white that you use.
170g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
100g cold butter
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 egg yolk
25 ml of gin or cold water (gin is my secret weapon for crisp pastry)
4 limes (zest and juice) topped up to 200ml with water if you need to
4 egg yolks
175g sugar (you can add a touch more if your limes are really tart)
1 tbsp of butter
meringue (see note above)
for each egg white you use you’ll need:
1/4 tsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp elderflower cordial
Kick things off by making the pastry, which you can either do by hand or in a food processor. Sift together the flour, cornflour 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. Mix through the thyme.
Beat together the egg yolk and the gin (or water) 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 do 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 20 minutes to relax. Grease a pie tin.
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. Trim away any excess. Recover the pastry case and put it back in the fridge to relax again for 15 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.
Whilst the crust bakes you can make the filling. Mix together the lime juice, zest, sugar, cornflour and water (if needed) in a medium pan. Whisk in the egg yolks and gently heat the mixture. Add the butter and bring the mixture to boiling point, stirring continuously until the filling thickens. Pour the filling into the tart whilst it’s still warm and then leave it to cool.
Now you just need to give the pie its crowning glory, the meringue topping. Pre-heat the oven to 170°c. Whisk however many egg whites you want to use (see note above) until they hold a stiff peak. Add the sugar, cornflour and elderflower cordial (as specified above) and whisk again, until the meringue is smooth and stiff and glossy.
Pile the meringue onto the cooled filling, spreading it out to cover the edges and fluffing it up on top and sprinkle on a little extra sugar. Bake the pie for about 15 minutes, until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve warm or cold.
I love these sweet, soft, fluffy pillows of dough but it’s not always easy to find non-meat versions. The last time we were in NYC we did a food crawl (what we do when there are just too many great places to eat and not enough meals to do it in!) We basically graze our way around the city. Anyway, one of our many stops was at Baohaus for a couple of delicious Chinese steamed buns filled with tofu. The only other place I’ve been able to indulge in them was at Continental in Philadelphia, where they were filled with spicy, plump buffalo shrimp – amazing!
Once you get used to the idea of steaming these rather than baking them they’re actually very easy, just like making any other basic white bread. You want really firm tofu for this so it’s worth pressing it to get as much moisture as possible out of it. You also need to marinate it for at least 30 minutes to give it plenty of flavour.
makes 4 big buns or 6 snack sized ones
150ml (ish) warm water
225g strong white bread flour
200g extra firm tofu (cut into steaks and pressed for 15 minutes)
1 tbsp dark maple syrup
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili sauce (I use sriracha)
1 clove garlic
1 inch fresh ginger
fresh coriander and chili (optional) to serve
Add the yeast to the water and set it aside for a minute or two. Whisk together the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and then mix in the water to form a soft dough. If it’s a little dry add a touch more water, a little sticky add a tiny bit more flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes until it becomes soft, smooth and stretchy.
Clean the mixing bowl and lightly oil it before placing the dough back into it and covering with cling film. Pop the bowl in a warm place and leave the dough for about an hour to double in size.
Meanwhile you can start the marinade for the tofu. Grate the garlic and ginger and combine it with everything else in a baking dish. Cut the tofu into triangles and toss them in the marinade. Leave for 30 minutes to soak up all the flavours.
When the dough has risen, knock it back a little and then divide it into 4 or 6 pieces (depending on how big you want your buns). Shape the pieces into balls and then roll them out on a lightly floured surface into an oval shape. Cut squares of grease-proof paper and fold each in half diagonally to make a triangle. Place these onto the dough and then fold each oval in half over it to create your buns. Put them on a board or tray covered with grease-proof paper and then loosely cover them with oiled cling film and leave them somewhere warm to rise again for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the pieces are sticky and a little crisp around the edges.
Cut up the grease-proof under the buns so that each one sits on an individual piece. Set a steamer over a pan of boiling water (a steel one works fine, you don’t have to have a bamboo one) and steam the buns in batches for about 8 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the buns are puffy.
Fill the buns with a couple of wedges of the tofu and add a generous garnish of fresh coriander and a little fresh red chili.