Jul 26th, 2016


I’ve been doing a lot of baking of late (getting ready for the new series of the Bake Off which starts shortly). I ventured into rough puff pastry for the first time recently, and as it proved so successful, I tried two new recipes with it.

The first was from a book called “Cookery for Today” which should now be called “Cookery for Yesterday” as I won it as a school prize in the early 1980s. It has a picture of a Rum Baba on the front which really tells you everything you need to know about it. Anyway – I made a rough puff pastry (enough for this and the next dish). While it was resting in the fridge I simmered two chicken breast with chopped carrots and a bay leaf until cooked. Drained off the stock retaining it, and then cut the chicken into pieces and put in a pie dish. Melted a big blob of butter and gently fried an onion and a pepper in it (when I was growing up in Whitehaven the only olive oil to be had in the whole town was in Boots the Chemist for putting on dry hair) then stirred in enough flour to make a thick roux and cooked down for a minute or two. Blended enough of the stock in to make a thick sauce and added a handful of grated strong cheddar. Poured the sauce over the chicken and topped with the puff pastry. Brushed with egg and cooked at 200C for 30 mins, then turned the oven down to 150C for another thirty mins. Another example of how old this book was – the temperatures were in Fahrenheit and for a conventional oven so I had to adapt to a modern Celsius fan oven. But the pie was good – so good I didn’t take a photo until it had nearly all gone.


My second pie was Mary Berry’s tarte tatin. I had been having a chortle when I watched the Bake Off contestants trying to make caramel, and this was my first go at it. I managed to resist the temptation to stir it after the sugar had melted (this causes it to crystallize), and I took it off the heat the moment it was straw coloured and plunged the pan into cold water to stop it burning. What I hadn’t realized was how quickly the caramel sets, and I only just managed to get most of it into the pie dish before it set like a rock. Having said that, the tarte seems to have turned out beautifully – it is not tremendously browned in the picture because I am freezing it for the weekend and I will be reheating it with some extra caramel. I’ll report back on how it goes – and I did eventually manage to get the toffee off my new pan.


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