There's a downside to working full time - there's hardly ever the time to try new recipes during the week, and hardly ever the urge to try new recipes at the weekend. I mean, I'd much rather sleep in and then bum around watching sitcoms and/or taking catnaps (sometimes concurrently, hehe), or read, or do some desultory gardening. And there's always household-y things to catch up on as well. I guess that means I'm not the most dedicated cook. (BUT - I'm a dedicated foodie, always!)
Anyhow, as it turned out, I reserved last Saturday to tackle my biggest culinary task - making a fruit pie from scratch. I had four medium peaches and a medium mango for the fruit part, and a recipe from the Good Home Cookbook for the pastry.
It was time-consuming, making the pastry, but not as difficult as I had feared. The problem with American recipes is that some of the ingredients are just not available as readily in the UK - for instance, shortening. I used margarine instead, and I dont know if it affected the pastry, and how, or even how much.
I'm glad to report that the pie was also was not the big disaster as I'd expected it to be, although it could have done with more finesse and adherence to the recipe on my part. In other words, I goofed up. But not big-time. For instance, since it was a double-crust pie, I was supposed to trim the dough even with the rim of the pan - but I folded it under, which is apparently done only for a single-crust pie. I also forgot the almond essence. And the quick-cooking tapioca with the filling, which was probably to help set the filling and stop it being runny. I should have glazed the top with milk (oops) and sprinkled brown sugar on top (oops once again), too. Oh well.
But the end result looked quite nice, and tasted very nice too, according to friends and family. Which is very encouraging, since I think I would like to give this pie-making exercise another go, with different fruit.
Not bad for a first attempt, right?
And that's how it looked when it was sliced...
When I sliced it, though, it didnt cut very well at all - possibly because I turned the bottom crust under the rim before baking, as I said earlier. The pastry was too flaky to cut neatly, and the juicy runny fruit filling didnt make it any easier. I know the first slice is usually termed 'chef's perk' (or something to that effect) because of the possibility of its not looking presentable, but I'm sure the entire pie shouldnt fall into that category!
One thing has always puzzled me and still does - how does one remove a baked and cooled pie from the dish whole, without ruining it? It would be so elegant to present a pie on a fancy plate and then cut it, rather than serve from the baking dish itself.
If anybody knows the technique of removing a pie (or flan or tart or whatever) from the dish without causing damage, PLEASE let me know! My next pie will be dedicated to that person :)