Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lime Pie

This week, because it's still so warm (min 20, max 30ºC every day; not hot, just oddly, constantly warm) I went with a pie that would be eaten cool. Ever since I made the Lemon Meringue Pie I wanted to try a lime-based pie.

It's the first time I've made a crust with biscuits and I think it worked out pretty well. I prefer pastry though :-)

It's a "Key Lime Pie" recipe, but the limes we get in the stores here are not Key limes.

Recipe by Christine Sheppard, Fresh Living July 2005, Page 35.


  • 200g wheatmeal or Granita biscuits
  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • 1 tbs caster sugar
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 395g can condensed milk
  • ⅔ cup cream
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 4 limes


  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line base of a 20cm springform tin with baking paper.
  2. Process biscuits until fine crumbs. Add almonds, sugar and butter, process until combined. Press mixture firmly into the base and 3cm up sides of tin. Refrigerate.
  3. Whisk eggs, milk, cream, lime rind and juice until smooth. Pour into biscuit crust.
  4. Place on tray and bake for 40-45 mins or until set. Cool. Serve with extra lime slices.

I forgot to include the sugar in the crust. I don't think it needed it. Certainly the sweetest tooth in the house (my daughter, though I come a pretty close second) didn't complain.

I think I preferred the lemon meringue pie filling texture to this pie. I reckon I'll try that recipe with limes.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Peach Tarte Tatin and Bonus Brioche

I revisited the Tarte Tatin this week but made it with peaches instead of apples. I used 5 large, firm peaches and had about a peach worth of fruit left over after laying the pieces in the pan (23cm cast iron.) Oh well, peach is tasty :-)

Sorry for the awful photo - I was more interested
in eating it :-)
Because it was a hot day yesterday I made the pastry using the blender method that I first used with the custard tarts. It's what most people do, but I still prefer to do things by hand sometimes.

I got the pastry pastry fitting better this time. I rolled it out to larger than the pan, laid it on top and then cut around the inside of the pan. I then poked the sides down gently so they would form a lip around the tart when it was turned over.

It was very, very yummy with some double cream on the side.

Since I already planned on having the oven at 180ºC anyway I decided to make some brioche as well. This would be a breakfast treat for Abbey and Rachel (who missed out on the tart) - French Toast!

The brioche recipe I use is from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion in the "basics" section.


  • 250g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 75g softened butter
  1. Warm water and sugar slightly, mix until sugar dissolved (I use caster sugar to make this simpler.) Cool if necessary so it's not too hot.
  2. Mix flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Combine eggs and warm milk mixture. Pour the liquid into a well in the flour and mix to a dough.
  3. Work until the dough forms a smooth ball. Personally the dough has never formed a smooth ball even though I run the mixer for at least 10 minutes on speed 2 on my Kitchenaid. The dough always sticks quite convincingly to the sides of the bowl and I have to frequently scrape it off.
  4. Incorporate the butter in two lots. This bit never works for me. I have to frequently stop the mixer to cut the butter into the dough. It will go stringy and then eventually form into a ball again.
  5. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and allow the dough to double in size - this can take 2 hours in a warm room.
  6. Knock the dough back (flatten it to remove all air) and transfer to a baking tin. I use a 20cm cake loaf tin (it's a bit low - I should find something with higher sides.) Cover and allow to rise again for about an hour.
  7. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes. Remove from tin and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Cool before using.
To make French Toast you need to bake the brioche the day before. Then cut a generous slice between 1-2cm thick and soak well-beaten egg into it. Cook thoroughly on both sides - several minutes on a low heat. Serve with maple syrup or just a dusting of sugar.

Yum :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Custard Tarts, take 2

I tried the custard tarts again, doing things slightly differently.

Last time I rolled the dough out and cut the 12 pieces out to put in the tin. I tried a circle but the largest cutter I had was too small so I switched to squares. That resulted in lots of pointy, burnt corners and an ultimately shallow tart which didn't allow for enough custard.

This time I separated the dough ball in to 12 pieces and rolled each one individually into a circle. This also allowed me to roll the dough thinner. Thanks to the higher sides I could fill the tarts much higher and used most of the custard liquid (though there were a few lowish ones and I'll keep working on that.)

I also reduced the blind baking time to 10+10 minutes. The dough was well-baked and not burnt. Much nicer.

A much better result!

(Yes, one is missing. I couldn't help myself :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Custard Tarts

This weekend we gathered at my friend Dougal's house to make tomato sauce. We do this every year and it's a good chance to catch up, relax, chew the fat and make some delicious sauce.

This year Dougal asked me to "instead of BBQ meat, bring something child nommable." Year of Pie to the rescue! I decided to make custard tarts, something I've always enjoyed.

I got this recipe by Michelle Southan from Fresh Living (April 2004, Page 49) via It's designed to make six 8cm tarts but I needed to make more so I tried to adapt it to make 12 mini tarts using a cupcake tin. This mostly worked.

You can see from the photo that I was largely experimenting with how to get the pastry into the cups.

  • 1½ cups (225g) plain flour
  • 2 tbs icing sugar mixture
  • 125g butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2-3 tbs water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup (60g) caster sugar
  • 1¼ cups (310ml) milk, warmed
  • Ground nutmeg, to sprinkle
  1. Process flour, icing sugar mixture and butter, in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Empty into a chilled bowl and make a well in the center. Add 2-3 tbs water and mix with hands gently and quickly until soft dough forms. Roll into a ball, divide into 6 portions.
  2. Roll out each portion to 3-4mm thick, to line six 3cm deep, 8cm (base measurement) round fluted tart tins with removable bases. Put on a baking tray and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line the pastry cases with baking paper and fill with rice. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and rice. Bake for 15 minutes. 
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C. Combine eggs, vanilla essence, caster sugar and milk. Pour into cases and sprinkle with ground nutmeg. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set. 
I made twelve mini tarts with this recipe which kinda worked. I didn't make the tart case sides high enough (partly because they weren't round enough) which meant there wasn't enough custard in a lot of the tarts. I should've baked the shells for at least 10 minutes less.

This was also my first week using the food processor to mix the butter and flour for the shortcrust pastry. This was much easier and gave a more consistent result but I'll be trying the manual method again next time - I'd like to think I've got that nailed before I fall back on the mixer more frequently.

I'm definitely making this one again!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes

OK, I realise this will be the second post on this blog not involving a crust. It's worth it though! I decided that Rachel needed a cake for her birthday. The pecan pie was delicious, but cake, dammit! I decided that cupcakes would be sensible, given that there was already pie...

I didn't have any time to shop for additional ingredients so I had to find a recipe that matched what I already had at home. The main constraint I had was that my usual cupcake recipe uses 4 eggs and I knew I only had 2. And to my luck I found this really great recipe by Liz Macri (from Australian Good Taste - April 2010, Page 102) which has a lovely not over-sweet flavour and ganache topping. It's also a cinch to make, even though I'm still nervous as all get-out making ganache :-)

  • 75g (½ cup) plain flour
  • 75g (½ cup) self-raising flour
  • 100g (½ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 90g butter at room temperature
  • 60ml (¼ cup) milk
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 60ml (¼ cup) thickened cream
  • 200g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line twelve cupcake pans with paper cases.
  2. Sift combined flour, sugar and bicarb into a bowl. Add butter, milk, golden syrup, egg and vanilla. Mix until pale and creamy. Fold in the half of the chocolate bits. Divide mixture among prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm. Leave for 10 minutes to cool a little and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, stir the cream (I used double cream since that's what I had lying around) and the rest of the chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat until smooth. Do not rush this or the chocolate will separate and be ruined. Transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 30 minutes - until it's not quite so runny.
  4. Spread the chocolate icing over the top. I found that blobbing a dollop on the top and gently tapping the cupcake helped spread the ganache nicely.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pecan Pie

Rachel decided that she wanted a Pecan Pie for her birthday instead of a cake. Who am I to argue? I've not made one and this seemed like a great excuse.

The main problem I encountered was that corn syrup is rare in Australia. I had to find a recipe that didn't include it; fortunately Stephanie stepped up to the challenge and provided a simple enough one. The use of ¾ of a cup of maple syrup gave me a bit of pause - though some recipes I'd seen used a whole cup. That's an expensive pie!

  • 140g pecans, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 60g butter, melted melted and cooled
  • 3 eggs
  • extra 8 perfect pecan halves

  • 225g (1½ cups) plain flour
  • 110g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • iced water (enough for 2-4 tbsp)

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake pastry as previously in a loose-bottom flan dish.
  2. Reduce oven to 180ºC.
  3. Mix all filling ingredients except the 8 pecan halves.
  4. Pour into case and top carefully and elegantly with the 8 halves.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, until set.
Cool and serve either warm or cold with unsweetened cream.

Notes: A couple of things went wrong. First up I added too much water to the pastry dough. For some reason it just wasn't balling up. This resulted in two things: when I was rolling it out parts of it were quite sticky, and when the shell was blind-baked it shrank considerably on the sides - to about 2/3 of their height. This made pouring the filling in a bit of a problem. Also the sides of the case were patched together where they weren't quite high enough. The resulting cracks let a fair amount of liquid leaking out. Bit of a mess.