Tasty pastry that’s as easy as pie
Take time out to perfect a dessert delivered with a glorious, golden crust, and choose your filling to reflect the season, says Annie Rigg
The radio’s on, the next hour is clear, and the kitchen is tidy. You put on an apron and start rubbing cool cubes of butter into flour in a mixing bowl, your mind drifting off as the mixture turns to crumbs between your fingertips. Rolling out the pastry, lining the tart tin, crimping the edges and leaving it to chill while you move on to the filling; then watching it turn golden in the oven and smelling the butter pastry as it bakes… there’s something uniquely soothing about making a pie.
There’s a pie or tart for everyone and every season. And what holds it all together is pastry. Pastry has a bad reputation, some folks believing that they can’t make it. But like most cooking and baking, you just need to a follow a few rules. Use good metal tins (less likely to buckle in the oven); have all the ingredients prepared before starting; keep butter fridge-cold and eggs at room temperature. If your hands are warm, run them and your wrists under cold water for 30 seconds or so to cool them down. Work quickly to avoid the butter warming and becoming greasy.
Arm yourself with a rolling pin, dust your hands with flour and embrace the wonderful world of pies and tarts. surface into a round that is 2-3cm wider all round than the cheese, and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
Place the roasted onion and porcini mixture in the middle of the pastry round, squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins, dot the soft flesh around the onions and nestle the cheese on top. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.
Roll the second piece of pastry out into a round about 4-5cm wider all round than the cheese and drape over the top, neatly covering the top and sides of the cheese.
Gently press the pastry down in order to neatly encase the cheese, press the edges together to seal and trim off any excess.
Using a small, sharp knife, knock up the edges of the pastry – hold the knife horizontally to the cut edges and make small tapping cuts all around the galette – this helps the pastry layers separate into delicate flakes. Glaze all over with beaten egg and chill for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.
Glaze the pastry again and using the point of a small sharp knife score a decorative pattern into the pastry, being careful that you don’t cut all the way through.
Make a steam hole in the middle of the pastry with a wooden skewer and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
Rest for five minutes and then serve with some good bread for mopping up the molten cheese. 200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
A pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, diced 40g icing sugar, sifted 1 medium egg yolk
2-3 tbsp ice-cold water
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp cornflour
40g light muscovado sugar 40g plain (all-purpose) flour 40g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
½ tsp ground cinnamon A pinch of salt
40g hazelnuts, very roughly chopped
To make the sweet pastry, tip the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and, using a round-bladed or palette knife, cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are half of their original size.
Now switch to using your hands to rub the butter into the flour. Working quickly, pick up handfuls of the flour and butter and allow it to pass across your fingertips, gently pressing and rubbing the mixture as it falls back into the bowl.
Still working quickly, continue rubbing the butter into the flour until there are only very small flecks of butter remaining.
Add the sugar and mix. Make a well in the middle of the mixture, add the egg yolk, ice-cold water and lemon juice and mix using the palette knife until the pastry starts to clump together. Gather into a ball using your hands and very lightly knead for 10 seconds until smooth. Flatten into a rectangle, cover with cling film and chill for one hour or until firm.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a neat disc, 3-4mm thick, with a diameter of about 25cm. Line a 20cm round pie dish with the pastry, press it into the corners, trim any excess from the top and crimp the top pastry edge between your fingers. Chill for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the filling and preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Place a solid baking sheet on the middle shelf to heat up at the same time.
Quarter the plums, remove the stones and tip into a large bowl. Add the blackberries, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and cornflour, mix well to combine and set aside while you prepare the crumble.
Tip the sugar, flour and diced butter into a bowl, add the cinnamon and salt and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the crumble starts to clump together in little nuggets.
Add the hazelnuts and mix to combine. Scoop the fruit mixture and all of the sugary juice into the chilled pie crust and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the crumble over the top, slide the pie into the oven on to the hot baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170C/Gas 3½ and continue cooking for a further 35 to 40 minutes until the pastry is golden, the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is crisp.
Leave to cool for five minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
LET IT CRUMBLE Annie Rigg, right, and her fruit pie, main; baked Tunworth, below