The end of June is approaching, meaning it’s time to share another Daring Bakers’ challenge!
Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens. Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie.
Pies are something that I love but get really easily intimidated out of in the kitchen. It’s more to do with the crust than anything. When I first started baking I attempted a number of pies, and they were largely hit and miss. Mostly miss, for when I tried unmoulding them from the tin they would either stick or snap or crumble or all of the above. So I ran away from pies. This challenge was a good way for me to test the waters again and see how I’d go now that I have many more kitchen hours under my belt.
There were four pies on offer. I went from saying I’d do one to taking on three of them!
It began when I told Cameron it was pie month and said he had to choose a pie. Ha. A pie. We both wanted to try different ones and both had different ‘top picks’ out of the lot. He was driven by his tummy, and I was driven by aesthetics. So I resolved to bake both of our top choices and the one we both wanted in common.
Beginning with our common ground was the Chocolate and Caramel Tart. This was definitely a tummy driven one on both our parts and we both wanted to try this. I mean, how can you say no to chocolate and caramel? We sure couldn’t.
The really awesome thing about this challenge was that all three pies required really different techniques. This one began with an egg yolk mixture and a crumbed flour and butter. I do confess to cheating here. I inwardly groan any time I see a recipe that asks you to rub the butter into the flour. So I used a food processor and gently pulsed the butter and flour together until it was just combined and resembled fine breadcrumbs. It saves so much time. Once you have your flour ready it’s time to get your hands really dirty and start working the egg mixture into the flour.
The dough needs to be worked really gently to not develop the gluten in the flour too much. You want it to just come together, then leave it be. This dough doesn’t need to rest in between stages, so you can whack it straight into the tart case. It has to be blind baked, which gave me a use to get out my sadly neglected ceramic pie weights. They’re really cheap and you can find them in just about any supermarket or homeware store, but if you can’t something like rice works just as well.
Next up came Cameron’s first choice: the Crack Pie. He read about it and loved the sound of it. All I saw was an ugly pie and I wanted to bake something pretty. He really wanted it, though, and after hearing all the rave reviews from other bakers in the Daring Bakers forum I finally caved in. It can’t always be about the pretty things. Sometimes it has to be all about the tasty things, right?
Once it’s baked and cooled, you crumble it up and make the pie base out of it. Quite similar to making a cheesecake base really.
As well as embracing three separate pie making techniques, I wanted to give them three very different looks, so I decided to use an array of different pie and tart dishes that have been neglected in my fear of pie. Rather than making them all in tart pans and having them all free-standing, I wanted to give some a more rustic look.
Next is just a simple matter of making your filling and baking it. The mixture will rise while it’s baking, then sink when you remove it from the oven to cool. Don’t panic, it’s completely normal for it to sink.
Last of all was my first preference: the Crostata di Marmellata. I wanted to bake this one because it was pretty. And red. I love red. And there were strawberries. Strawberries!
Strabwrries are painfully expensive here at the moment. Being the middle of winter, it’s to be expected. But after the summer of abundance we’ve just had where I was scoring kilos of this amazing fruit for a pittance, paying $5 a punnet is hard to swallow. But I so wanted to try this pie anyway, so I stuck with the strawberry version.
Not gonna lie, when it came time to boil them into a jam I was sorely tempted to just eat them instead.
While the pastry is having a nap in the fridge, it’s a great time to begin the filling. To make the marmellata, you place the strawberries, lemon juice and witer in a pot and gently cook until the strawberries release all their juice and are soft to the touch. Then bring it up to a rolling boil and cook until set. Pretty simple stuff. If you don’t have the time to do it all in one day, you can make it in advance and just reheat it when you need it.
|Chocolate and Caramel Tart
1 egg yolk
70g caster sugar
250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
50ml cold water
100g caster sugar
100ml cream, heated
1/2 tbsp salt (optional)
2 free range eggs
75g icing sugar (optional)
200g dark chocolate, chopped
|Oat Cookie Crust
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
70g brown sugar
30g caster sugar
1 free range egg
80g rolled oats
70g plain flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
170g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
8g dry milk powder
115g unsalted butter, melted
100ml thickened/whipping cream
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
|Oat Cookie Crust
|Crostata di Marmellata
500g strawberries, washed and hulled
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 cup water
25g jam setting sugar with pectin (or weigh according to manufacturers instructions)
250g caster sugar, warmed (can warm sugar in the oven at 150° for 6 minutes)
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 free range egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
grated zest of one medium lemon
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp lemon juice