Bring on week V on the Great British Bake Off: pies and tarts! Now this is a category I've been particularly looking forward to as unlike the other wonderful treats you've seen me rustle up, this is one I've actually had a go at before! I've tried out several alternatives with my fruit pie recipe using a variety of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and apples but I'm not one to slack off, so as I've never tried peaches I decided to have a go at making peach fruit leather to adorn the top of my peach pie. For those of you used to pop 'winders' into your school lunch boxes, this is what I'm talking about except 100% natural!
The recipe for the dough is one that has been handed down a few times on my mum's side. This means two things: 1) it is Polish (so I'm not entirely sure what its English equivalent is!), and 2) because it is old it has acquired a few useful annotations along the way... Mum says improvise - if you feel the need (or knead ha-ha) to add a bit more butter cause the dough feels a bit too crumbly, go for it. This being said, this is a dough that directly translated means 'half crumbly' so Auntie Aga reminds us that we do need to work at it before it starts to stick and come together so don't jump the gun and end up with a grease ball. Grandma Ola adds that this recipe is too big for one tin but it doesn't work if you halve the ingredients so the best thing to do is make two pies (but if you're not foreign and feeding the whole family is not your primary occupation you can always stick half of it in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for next time).
The first step in crafting this crumbly creation was making the fruit leather as this needed to be in the oven for a rather lengthy period of time...
Peach Fruit Leather
4-5 large peaches
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
Remove skin and stones from peaches and cut into chunks.
Place into food processor and pulse until a smooth puree forms.
Pour into a saucepan and add the lemon and sugar. Bring to a boil then allow to cook down for about 15 mins.
Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper and spread out evenly. If you give the baking tray a little shake once the puree is evenly spread, it smooths out the surface - see pic.
Put into oven heated at 60ºC for at least 8 hours. The leather needs to be dry to the touch otherwise you will not be able to remove it from the baking sheet. Mine took an exasperating 12 hours so to prevent you having to rouse yourself from your slumber every few hours like I had to I suggest starting this process in the morning!
Once the leather has dried remove from oven and using strips of baking paper cut leather horizontally with a knife and wind around baking paper. Put into an air tight container to keep fresh for later use.
Now for the pie!
'Half crumbly' dough
1 whole cube of margarine
3 tsp baking powder
1 whole egg
2 yolk only
100g caster sugar
Pre-heat oven to 180ºC (fan assisted)
Prepare the fruit i.e. wash, skin, remove pips and chop as applicable. I normally chop quite finely but as Eve will tell you (who sadly could not be with us this week so no pretty outfit piccies I'm afraid! I was flying solo and to say my camera phone was a sticky mess is an understatement...), I am an extremely over-the-top-perfectionist chopper so really this bit is up to you; just think of the size you'd like to bite into when you eat it and slice accordingly. Put the fruit aside on a chopping board and grease baking tin. I like to get these little bits and bobs out of the way before I get messy but again this is totally up to you; we're a stubborn bunch so all of our family recipes are subject to a bit of personal preference and interpretation!
Mix together the marge (or butter if you prefer ;P), flour, baking powder and sugar. When clumps start to form, add the eggs and work thoroughly until the dough sticks. When a solid mass, cut the dough in half with a knife and place one half under a bowl to keep it from drying out. I got to this point and my Polish genes kicked in; I thought, why waste the dough? Let's make two pies! So I ended up with a strawberry and raspberry pie as well - yum!
Cut the dough you have kept in half again (for the bottom and top of your pie) and place one section under your bowl. If you're going for a lattice finish you'll want to split the dough more 1/4 top 3/4 bottom. Sprinkle some flour onto the table top to stop the dough from sticking when you roll it out. I make life a little easier for myself here and roll it on a chopping board then place the baking tin on top and turn it upside down - this dough has the annoying attributes of being both sticky and crumbly, so this is sometimes the only way to prevent it from splitting.
Press the dough down into the baking tin and sprinkle your fruit in. A perfect quantity of fruit would be when you can no longer see any of the dough on the bottom but the fruit is not rising up above the sides of the tin. Sprinkle some sugar over the fruit for good measure and go crazy with your pie top!
Plonk it in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. I normally put it on the top rack for 20 minutes and then move it to the bottom and check it after 10-15 minutes. The stick test is the way to go here - prod the pie with a thin metal stick and if it comes away clean, your pie is ready!
Looks like I'm going to have to delve deeper into my mother's cook book as next week it's European recipes... do zobaczenia i smacznego!