Category Archives: pastry making

Blackberry Blueberry & Apple Pie

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

I spend most days having to look at a dilipdated Fanny which is the equivalent of looking at a sad old pie. A rather fatty pork pie I may add. However despite her unfortunate looks, (which are considerably worse before she cakes on the makeup), I am not put off by such horrors. This week to compensate for my pain, I have made the most delectable Autumn orientated fruit pie in the world and one thing pleases me in particular; – that I am so modest about it! I’ve said it before and I will say it again (because I have a nasty habit of repeating myself despite the doctor’s prescription), Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year due to the colours and the harvest. This year I have some apples which I located in someone’s garden, and some recently picked blackberries found in someone’s hedge, so I thought I would add some blueberries to the mix as well. And if I may say so, this delicious combination of fruit will keep young and old very happy indeed!

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Ingredients

350g blueberries
350g blackberries
350 apples
4 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 beaten egg

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda


Shortcrust pastry

160g plain flour
100g butter
A large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of caster sugar
Approx 2 tablespoons of water

Method

1) The rich shortcrust pastry

Take a mixing bowl and combine the sugar salt and flour.
Now take the butter in small lumps and add it to the flour mix.
Blend it till you get a crumbly texture.
Add enough water to the dough to get the mixture to combine.
Now: the odd part, which isn’t odd once you get used to it- the fraisage.

Take the bottom of the palm of your hand (the heel) and take a small amount of the pastry and literally smear it down a well floured pastry board. Put that smeared pastry to one side, and then add another and repeat. Wrap it all up into a ball and then repeat the process again. This process is ‘fraisage’.

Now take the ball of pastry, wrap it and refrigerate it for an hour.

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

2) The pie

Roll out the pastry
Take a pie dish and grease it
Lay the pastry in the dish
Blind bake it for twenty minutes (10 minutes with the beans and 10 minutes without) at 150°C
Take out and leave to cool

Place the blackberries in a bowl. Drain off the juice if they have been frozen.
Add the blueberries
Add two table spoons of sugar and leave to macerate for half an hour
Meanwhile peel and core some apples and stew for quarter of an hour in a pan. Add sugar to taste
Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Add the apples to the fruit mix,and stir in.

Add the fruit mix to the pie
Rollout some pastry for the topping.
Baste with some beaten egg
Add a scattering of caster sugar to the topping
Bake in oven at 200°C for about thirty minutes or till golden brown on top.

Serve with cream or custard

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Nectarine Galette

nectarine galette by fanny and brenda

According to wikipedia a “Galette is a term used in French cuisine to designate various types of flat round or freeform crusty cakes” It can also be a buckwheat pancake and around the world it has its variants. This particular recipe concentrates on the French crusty cake version, and I have used some ripe nectarines to use within its crust. The base is an almond affair and the whole thing is really quite sumptuous. It makes for an ideal weekend treat when reading the Sunday newspapers. It is designed for children and adults to get their teeth into, and only takes about half an hour to prepare. You will need some of our rough puff pastry – recipe on the blog. However you can make a job lot of that earlier in the week and use some of it with this recipe.

Ingredients

For the pastry
150g butter
150g plain flour
75ml cold water
sprinkle of salt

For the filling
A handful of ripe nectarines cut into quarters
100g ground almonds
2 eggs beaten
100g caster sugar
1 splash of almond extract

Method

nectarine galette by fanny and brenda

Preheat oven to 200°C

Pastry recipe as found here

Roll out the pastry and place in a well buttered baking dish. Do not worry about cutting off the edges, (the pastry that is outside the pastry case will be folded in later). Set aside.

In a mixing bowl place the butter and beat till soft and creamy

Add the sugar to the butter and beat

Add three quarters of the egg and whisk into the mixture

Pour in the ground almonds and mix until  even and smooth

Place in the base of the galette and spread evenly on the base

Place the nectarines on top of the almond mixture

Cut the pastry (with regular slits around the perimeter) which is overhanging the pastry dish and fold in roughly creating a rough edge. Fold in against the baking dish.

Brush the pastry with the rest of the beaten egg

Sprinkle with flaked almonds

Cook for about thirty minutes or until browned (and make sure the almond filling has cooked – if not leave it in the oven at about 140°C for about a further ten minutes).

When cool glaze with melted apricot jam, and leave for an hour or so till set, and then serve.

nectarine galette by fanny and brenda

How to make delicious mince pies

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style

 

Well! I don’t often say it but Brenda has come up trumps with her fantastic mince pies. Like you, I know she’s a ghastly old curmudgeon but underneath that hideous exterior lies an ability to cook well when she makes the effort.

We are now in the run up to Christmas and time is short. The mincemeat is now made and the pastry (see previous post) is ready so it’s really a case of compilation.

Take about a quarter of the puff pastry (about 250g) and roll it out. Roll it pretty thin. We can’t bear thick pastry – it is the case but it’s not the filling too!

Take a greased muffin tin and place the pastry within each holder.

At this point Brenda had a brainwave and added a small ball of marzipan to each pie, placing it in the centre. The marzipan was left over from the christmas cake (recipe forthcoming!) and it’s a delicious addition. Place the mincemeat around the marzipan, and then add the pie topping. Apply some egg wash and then place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°c /350°f.

Serve with some lovely double cream with added lemon zest and grand marnier and frankly you will never want to eat a commercial mince pie again!

If you are thinking of leaving mince pies out for some gaudily dressed and rather overweight bearded old man who may want to pop down your chimney then may I suggest leaving a few of these mince pies under the christmas tree. Of course he will probably be unable to go back up your chimney as these mince pies are delicious so if you hear the front door slam in the middle of the night don’t be too surprised.

how to cook delicious mince pies fanny and brenda style

Quick puff pastry

homemade rough puff pastry

If you are a regular viewer of this blog you will already know that I have championed the making of pastry from scratch. This came about after feeling unfulfilled with the taste of the ready made pastry in the shops. I was struck at the time by how easy it is to make and wondered why I hadn’t tried it before. Like all these things you only try it when you are dissatisfied with the status quo and now that I have I am finding myself pushing another boundary: puff pastry.

I had heard that it was very time consuming to make, but this recipe is simple and quick and comes from Michel Roux who has a video online showing how to produce it. The video is well worth watching and will only take 10 minutes of your time.

Ingredients

500g cold butter
500g plain flour
250ml cold water
teaspoon of salt

Have all the ingredients in front of you, and make a well in the middle of the flour

Take the flour, add the salt, and knead in the butter

Mix the two up till you get a rough crumbly texture

Add the water to get a dough mixture

Roll it out on a floured surface

Fold over the ends and turn it 90° and then roll again

Roll it out on a floured surface

Fold over the ends and place in the fridge for half an hour

Remove from fridge and roll out again twice (as above)

Remember to fold over the ends and voila!

Leave it to rest for half an hour and then your pastry is ready

fanny and brendas homemade rough puff pastry

My result was a flavoursome flaky pastry and I have been using it to make mince pies! Recipe to follow!

Gluten Free Tarte Tatin Bake off

Regular readers (all one of you) will know that we have an increasing interest in the making of our own pastry and the use of different flours. This week we have been experimenting with chestnut flour and almond flour in a tarte tatin bake off.

So which is the better?

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

Recipe 1 Chestnut flour pastry

100g chestnut flour
70g cold butter- diced
15g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 table spoons of cold water or more if necessary.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

This is not the easiest flour to work with. It’s a very dry rustic smelling flour which has a gritty sensibility to it. As Niki Segnit says in her book  “The Flavour Thesaurus” (an excellent book about how flavours work together – I don’t agree with every single one but it’s a well written tome nonetheless)  “chestnut flour has a curious aroma, somewhere between cocoa and silage, which makes for a rustic flavour experience. I mean really rustic: it tastes like the floor of a shepherds refuge.” One can assume it’s not a favourite in the Segnit household then. That said; it is rustic and coarse and has a low fat content, but that is also its appeal. It is quite difficult to work with initially and needs to be coaxed a bit to get what you require- a nice flat pastry for the tarte tatin top.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

Recipe 2 Almond flour pastry

150g Almond flour
10g cold butter
15g icing sugar

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

A very different flour – crumblier, less gritty, and much more oil content. I don’t always use butter but sometimes I add it for a little bit of luxury, because frankly living with Fanny’s long face is almost too much to bear. It is also much more moist which means that it binds more easily. Rolled out on a floured surface it is a sticky flour and will need some care as you lift it on to the apples. This feels like a luxuriant pastry and indeed it tastes like it – even before being cooked!

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour

To prepare the pastry:

Put the flour and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the flour and butter together till you get a crumbly texture. Once you have, add the icing sugar and bring it together in a ball. The chestnut flour will require the eggs and some water to help it bind.
Now leave it in the fridge to harden up.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
chestnut

Ingredients for the caramel mixture

100g butter
100g demerara sugar

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
almond

Tart filling ingredients

1 kg Cox Orange Pippins (or similar eating apples)
Zest and juice from one lemon.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
chestnut

Method

Get yourself a flan pan for the tarte tatin.

First peel your apples, core them and slice them quite thinly.

Place the butter and sugar in a pan and on a low heat melt the sugar and butter and stir. You will need to cook it for about five minutes, stirring. When it starts to darken take it off the heat and pour it into the flan dish.

Then arrange your apples on top of the caramel

Turn on oven and preheat to 180°C

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
almond
Now take the pastry out of the fridge, flour your board and grab your rolling pin.

Roll out your ball carefully. Whichever flour you have used will take some care to roll out as neither of these binds with the flexibility of a normal processed plain flour. When it comes to lifting the pastry on to the apples, beware that the almond pastry could be quite sticky and may need to be helped off the floured board. If you are using the chestnut pastry, you may find it is more crumbly – do not worry this is standard.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
almond
Place the pastry onto the apples and tuck it in at the sides.

Place the flan pan the oven on a flat baking tray for 30 minutes till brown.

When it is cooked you will need to turn it out of the flan base pretty quickly – and before the caramel sets. Place a plate or a board over the pan and turn upside down. Let gravity do its work.

Serve with a large bowl of chantilly cream.

tarte tatin bake off -chestnut flour -v- almond flour
almond
Both of these tartes have distinctive qualities. The chestnut would be a lovely wintry recipe with its robust earthy tones. The almond pastry is much more luxuriant and presents a quite different flavour, and the almond one won the vote here. The choice is yours!

Rich shortcrust pastry

It’s not often that I manage to get Fanny to ecstasy but she has been enthusiastic to the point of damp about my new found skills in pastry making. It takes a tart to know a tart that’s what I say. I have to admit that this is a whole new journey that I am enjoying. For years I’ve gone along with the bought stuff thinking that it was too complicated to make myself, but actually it’s not! This has only come about because we have both had mouthfuls of tasteless cardboardy pastry in recent times and knew there must be something better. In the time it would take to get in the car, go to the supermarket, park it, acquire the ready made stuff and return to the house you might as well have done it yourself. And believe me DIY is a lot less time consuming let me tell you! So this is the recipe for rich shortcrust pastry.


Ingredients
160g plain flour
100g butter
A large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of caster sugar
Approx 2 tablespoons of water


I made my gorgeous pastry on a very warm day. Now; it is said that the best pastry is made with cold hands – mine weren’t! The butter was also reasonably soft. So immediately I broke two of the strict rules that seem to govern good shortcrust pastry making, and it was still dare I say it really quite fabulous. I  dare, because I am correct.


Take a mixing bowl and combine the sugar salt and flour.
Now take the butter in small lumps and add it to the flour mix.
Blend it till you get a crumbly texture.
Add enough water to the dough to get the mixture to combine.
Now: the odd part, which isn’t odd once you get used to it- the fraisage.


Take the bottom of the palm of your hand (the heel) and take a small amount of the pastry and literally smear it down a well floured pastry board. Put that smeared pastry to one side, and then add another and repeat. Wrap it all up into a ball and then repeat the process again. This process is ‘fraisage’.
Now take the ball of pastry, wrap it and refrigerate it for an hour. At this point it will be ready for using in your next recipe, and will keep in the fridge for a few days. It can also be frozen for a while.

No more tasteless pastry for us

forays into pastry making

A little while ago Brenda was making apple strudels. I don’t know what got into her but she started making these infernal things and I had to keep on giving them away when she wasn’t looking. They were perfectly acceptable but after the 20th had been baked it seemed kinder to let other people enjoy them.

Now I’ll be frank. All the recipes included the use of pre-made pastry – in this case filo. I became aware that my taste buds were picking up no sense of flavour, and the texture was like thin cardboard. Her fillings were excellent so I know it wasn’t Brenda having a senior moment. She used different pastry brands but the end result was much the same. In my view that wasn’t very satisfactory and I informed her that she would be better off spending some time studying the art of pastry before we had to suffer any more.

Furthermore we have to think about Laura the lodger who is a coeliac and has problems with gluten. Therefore, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to see where we could take this exploration.

The first of these was to use ground almonds instead of wheat flour. It is difficult to make this seem like a gluey dough that will stick together, and it does take some patience because of its crumblier texture. However the results were significant- a great flavour and much better texture. If you’re serious about your pies and tarts then keep tuned here at FannyandBrenda.com as we are developing our art and will share with you the secrets as we learn them.

For the almond pastry:

300g ground almonds
1tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g soft but not melted butter

Method
Mix all the pastry ingredients together to create a dough. Chill for half an hour to an hour as it’s very sticky – while that’s chilling, put the oven on 200°C (180°C if fan assisted)

Meanwhile, use the time to butter a 24cm tart dish.

Take the pastry from the freezer and using a WELL floured rolling pin (we used potato flour for this just so we could inform Laura that there is no wheat in this dish at all) and roll out to approximately 3mm thick on flat greaseproof paper or baking paper. You will have to roll it carefully towards the edges because of its crumbly texture.

Then line the greased tin with your pastry -to do this pop the tin upside down over the pastry and and then you invert the whole thing – it is unfortunately quite delicate and by the way, feel free to fill any holes or gaps with the spare that you cut from the edges).

Line the tart dish with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans (or anything else suitable), bake for 10 mins, remove from the oven and take out the parchment and baking beans and put the pastry case back in for another 10 mins to brown.This is better if its left to become a good biscuity colour.

At this point you are ready for the filling of your choice, sweet or savoury.