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Apple of my Pie

25 Oct

Apple Cinnamon Frangipane Tart

It’s Autumn, and Autumn = Apple & Cinnamon. This could be the basis of so many bakes. Here is one of my favourites – lightly poached apples surrounded by marzipanny frangipane held together in sweet sweet pastry. Yum!

Making Apple Cinnamon Frangipane Tart

Apple, cinnamon & frangipane tart
Pastry ingredients
220g plain flour
100g butter
80g icing sugar
1 large egg

Pie ingredients
3 dessert apples
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 eggs
100g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
100g butter
1tbsp flour

Method
To make the pastry; soften the butter in the food processor, then add the icing sugar & whizz until combined and pale in colour. Then whizz in the egg, and finally the flour. This is a nice soft dough, and will benefit from a bit of chilling in the fridge before you use it!

Roll out and line a large pie tin with the pastry and chill again in the fridge, for a couple of hours. Don’t worry if the pastry falls apart as you work with it. It’s quite hardy and will stick back together well!

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4, and when hot line the pastry with greaseproof paper & fill with baking beans. Bake for 7 minutes. Then remove the beans & paper and bake again for another 7 minutes. Allow the case to cool slightly.

Peel and core the apples and cut each into 8 wedges. Place in a saucepan with the cinnamon sticks & 2 tbsp caster sugar and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to very low and simmer for 10 minutes. You want the fruit to be just tender, but not mushy in any way. Choose a robust apple for this!

To make the frangipane whizz the remaining eggs, butter, sugar, flour & almonds in the food processor for a couple of minutes until light & fluffy.

Pour the frangipane into the pie case, and arrange the apple slices on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.

You could then glaze the apple slices with some melted apricot jam. I didn’t do this, but it would give the apples a lovely sheen. You are also left with your appley, cinnamoney, sweet water that the apples were poached in. I’ll think of something we can do with that…

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Dorset Bakes

10 Mar

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This weekend Mr Bakes and I took a little road rail and road cycling trip, starting in Axminster and finishing in Dorchester. And look how sunny it was!

sunny dorchester

We only cycled 50km, but when you’re either going up a hill, or down the other side of it, 50km seems quite a long way (and we haven’t yet got our climbing legs back after a winter of hibernation)

So, the only thing for it was to stuff our faces at the River Cottage Canteen the night beforehand. To begin we had pigeon breast with garlic potato purée and smoked pollack roe taramasalata. Then razor clams and chorizo, lambs liver and couscous, and a side of roast spuds, and then pudding! A chocolate brownie with cardamom cream, and a big plate o’cheese & biscuits.

Chocolate Brownie

The highlights were the pigeon & the cardamom cream. We also tried a local dessert wine. I wouldn’t recommend it. Sauternes? Yes please! Royal Tokaji? Hell yeah! Lyme Bay dessert wine? Errr, maybe not.

Chicken Pie

The next day we went up and down the Dorset hills on our bicycles, with only a brief interlude to talk marquees. After all that cycling we felt we’d earned ourselves a treat. And it was lunchtime…which = pie time. Sausage roll, and a chicken and bacon pie. I’m pretty sure this is the combo Bradley Wiggins will be ordering post Paris-Nice tonight. Speaking of Bradley, Mr. Bakes just commented that with his helmet on, it looks like he’s wearing a jimmy hat. Time for a hair-cut Wiggo?

Sausage Roll

Och pie the noo

17 Jan

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Mmm. Looks good right? It’s a take on shepherds pie. The mash is a 50:50 split of potato and swede. It’s Burns night soon, how about this for an idea. Haggis pie topped with potato & swede (that’s turnip to you lot north of the border) mash? Sounds tasty! Now back to this little lady in the picture. This pie had minced lamb in it, and the secret ingredient? Soy sauce, not salt. Very savoury indeed.

Are you wondering how Herman is? He’s getting bigger, I fed him last night and he’s grown. Every now and then he makes a small spluttering noise. I think that’s his way of saying he’s happy. He will be ready to divide and share on Saturday, would anyone like some? You get a 1/4 of Herman to look after for 10 days, on the 10th day you divide into 4, give 3 portions away and make the 4th into a very tasty cake. The cake that keeps on giving!

Double bake day

7 Jan

First, for breakfast – Apple Cinnamon Muffins

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Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

Then, for dinner – A Pieminister moo & blue pie

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I’ll post the muffin recipe tomorrow. If you want the steak & blue cheese pie recipe you’ll have to buy A Pie for All Seasons, their cookbook.

A new toy

6 Jan

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Wowsers, look at this. A new 6 cup jumbo muffin pan by Wilton. I got this from Sugar Shack. Perfect for making Paul Hollywood’s Pork Pies as seen on the Great British Bake Off. Here’s some Mr Cakes and I made earlier (before buying the tins, hence the wonkyness) Wonky, but yummmmmmmy.

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2012 pie

4 Jan

During Chrimbo limbo last week, Mr Cakes and I visited Ma and Pa in the wilds wolds of Lincolnshire. After a couple of days and several cooked breakfasts later we were packed off to Shoreditch with 4 pheasant breasts, among other things. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall must have heard the news, as the very same day he included a recipe for Pheasant with prunes and bacon in a collection of Brandy Recipes published in the Guardian. Thanks Hugh!

Now, I didn’t have any prunes…and I did fancy a pie, and I did have apricots and chestnuts leftover from the Christmas stuffing. So, with a touch of inspiration from HFW and a bit of imagination, this is what I came up with.

2012 (aka pheasant, apricot & chestnut) Pie

4 pheasant breasts, cut into large chunks (about 3 chunks per breast)
20g butter
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 rashers unsmoked bacon (I used back bacon, streaky would probably be good too)
60ml brandy
250ml white wine
350ml chicken stock
80g dried apricots, halved
60g cooked, peeled & halved chestnuts (peeled weight)
10g plain flour
250g puff pastry (I cheated, and bought ready-made…)
1 egg, beaten

Serves 4

Place a large frying pan (I use this 30cm Le Creuset one, nearly every day. It’s fantastic) over a medium-low heat and melt half the butter with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon, onions, thyme, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently to soften the onions and they just turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a minute.

Turn up the heat to your frying pan slightly, add the pheasant chunks to the pan and brown all over. Warm the brandy in a small pan, light carefully and pour over the pheasants. Try not to freak out at this point, you will have massive flames spewing out of your pan. Best to move your pan away from the hob if you have a cooker hood like we do, ours got a little flame grilled.

Once the alcohol has burnt off you can relax and deglaze the frying pan with a splash of the white wine, scraping up any tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the wine, the stock, apricots and chestnuts, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Transfer the meat, apricots, chestnuts and any other chunky bits to a large pie dish and pour the liquid into something else while you melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Then gradually add the liquid back to the pan to make a gravy, nice and slowly or you’ll get lumps. Pour the gravy into the pie dish to cover the pie contents.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface, place over the dish and trim round the edges. Brush the pastry with egg, and use and pastry trimmings to make your pie look pretty. Bake for 30-35 mins until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Nom nom nom!

You can find the original Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe on the Guardian website here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/dec/30/brandy-recipes-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall

And just because, here’s a picture of Ma and Pa on their wedding day. Aw!

New Year, new blog & a pie

3 Jan

Here goes. Who likes the look of this pie?

2012 pie, we’ll call it – full of pheasant, chestnuts and other wholesome wintry goodies. Only, I ran out of pastry to make the Olympic rings. Not strictly speaking a cake. Not a cake at all! Oh well.

Recipe coming soon…

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