Author Archives: catrionagallagher

Pecan Pie

Back in Ivinghoe, tea and cake time in mid afternoon (indeed mid morning as well sometimes) is a daily ritual. However this wonderful gooey, sweet and crunchy tart also made an excellent before bed snack. You could eat it any time of the day, all times of the day. Cold with tea, hot with ice cream, if you please.

A wonderful Leon recipe (slightly adultered) from their fantastic third book Leon Baking & Puddings. The only thing we changed was using regular plain flour rather than gluten free flour.

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[Note: with rest and chilling times for the pastry, start this earlier than you’d think, it took a good few hours: despite starting early afternoon Jack and I struggled to get this ready before 6pm, so post-pub fodder it was.]

150g butter, 100g caster sugar, 1 free range egg plus 1 yolk, 270g plain flour

50g butter, 225g golden syrup, 2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 tsp cornflour, 2 large free range eggs, 200g pecan nut halves

  • Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth (preferably in a free standing mixer, or with a wooden spoon)
  • Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until fully incorporated,. Add the flour and quickly bring it together in a ball (pastry is best when handled and worked as little as possible). Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refridgerate for at least 30 mins.
  • Butter a 23-25cm fluted flan tin. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 3-5mm thick and line your tart case with it. Trim the edges and chill in the fridge for a further 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 160C.
  • Line the chilled pastry case with baking paper, and fill it with baking beans* to stop it shrinking when it’s being baked. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then remove the baking beans. Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 mins. The pastry should be a nice blonde colour [we compared ours to the colour of Bella the golden retriever, never a better golden one you ever did see! And quite convenient as she likes lying in the kitchen grabbing cuddles between our baking stages]. Set aside to cool.
  • Put the butter and golden syrup into a medium saucepan over a low heat. When it becomes runny, taking it off the heat and whisk in the sugar.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the cornflour and eggs until smooth and then add to the saucepan.
  • Fill the baked pastry with the pecan halves. Pour the golden syrup mixture on top and fill it to just below the edge of the case. Put it into the oven, taking great care not to spill any liquid over the sides, as this might make it difficult to remove from the tin once it’s baked [we used the ol’ pour-in-the-liquid-with-the-case-on-the-oven-shelf-already technique to avoid spills].
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the tart is dark golden in colour and has slightly risen in the middle. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
* we never have used baking beans! Dried chickpeas or other dried beans work a treat. Just don’t forget to put them in a well labelled tub afterwards so you can use them again (and so someone doesn’t try to cook with them!).
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Jack and Catriona (+ eaten by Hannah)

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Mini Jam Tarts (leftover pastry)

This recipe (barely a recipe) used left over scraps of pastry from a pecan pie that Jack and I made a few days ago – that recipe soon to follow. Instead of throwing away the excess pastry left over from lining a fluted flan tin I suggested making some mini tartlets and I’m very glad we did!

A perfect aperitif before the real pie is ready.

  • Use your left over pastry (we had sweet shortcrust but regular shortcrust would work well too) and combine back into a ball and roll out.
  • Cut circles (using a circle cutter a bit bigger than the size of holes you have in your pastry dimple tin) from the pastry, brush the tin with some melted butter and pop the  pastry circles in. Top with a small square of grease proof paper/tinfoil and then add in a few baking beans.
  • Blind bake for about 10 minutes with the beans (around 180C I think the oven was) then remove the beans and paper or foil and return to the oven for another 5 or until golden enough.
  • Put in your chosen filling. We used a strawberry jam and also a strawberry and vodka jam, along with a little blob of creme fraiche.
  • Chuck back in the oven and forget about them for a while (that’s what we did! Very approximate and botch recipe really).
  • Eat up! WARNING even when out of the oven for 10 minutes the jam will still be exceedingly hot and you will burn your tongue, even when you think you have waited long enough. Apologies. It’ll still be scrummy and you’ll wonder why you bothered going to all the effort of making an actual pie or whatever else your pastry was leftover from.

Catriona