APRICOT AND SAFFRON PIES
Saffron has been used in baking for centuries. The sweet taste of this luxurious spice is perfect with the fresh zesty apricots. Makes 6 Prep time: 20 mins, plus chilling time Cooking time: 1 hour 20 mins butter, for greasing 2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting 1 pack of ready-made sweet shortcrust pastry 800g fresh apricots, halved 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 4–6 saffron strands 2 tsp vanilla paste 200g light muscovado sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 tbsp golden caster sugar crème fraîche, to serve
1Butter and flour 6 springform cake tins that are 10cm in diameter and 4cm deep.
2Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface 2 to 3mm thick. Use it to line the tins, reserving the trimmings. Chill the pastry cases in the refrigerator for 20 mins.
3Meanwhile, put apricots, flour, spices, vanilla and sugar into a large pan and cook over a medium heat for 10 mins, or until the sauce is smooth but the apricots are still nice and firm. Pour the mixture into a sieve, with a bowl underneath to collect the liquid. Arrange the apricots in the pastry cases.
4Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C). Roll out the pastry trimmings and cut out lids, using the tins as a guide. Brush the top edges of the pastry cases with some of the beaten egg.
5Top pies with the lids and press and pinch the edges of the pastry together to seal. Brush the tops with the rest of the beaten egg and sprinkle over the golden caster sugar.
6Cut out 6 small squares of greaseproof paper and roll into cone shapes. Poke one in the top of each pie to act as a funnel for the steam to escape, then bake the pies in the oven for 25 to 30 mins, or until golden. Serve with crème fraîche drizzled with the reserved cooking juices from the apricots.