I made pastry!

I made pastry! This is worth repeating as I don’t ‘do’ pastry. I tried years ago and it was fiddly and rock hard. Since the I’ve relied on the ready-made stuff assuming it was nicer than anything I could make. The problem is that it’s very hard to find sweet shortcrust for fruit pies or tarts, so for New Year’s Eve I decided to give it another go. I chose Nigella’s Cranberry Bakewell Tart from Feast, but with a few modifications.

The lovely cake stand was a Christmas present from SiL
The lovely cake stand was a Christmas present from SiL

I think the pastry recipe is generic enough that it’s okay to explain how I did it here. The key – apparently – is to keep everything really cold and touch it as little as possible, so I made it in the food processor. You start by briefly pulsing together 175g plain flour, 30g ground almonds and 50g icing sugar. Then you add 125g of cold diced butter and mix until all the butter has disappeared. Then beat an egg (in a small jug) with a pinch of salt – I only added a tiny bit as I’d used salted butter – and a tablespoon of iced water. You leave the mixer running while pouring this down the funnel and add more iced water if it hasn’t quite come together. I didn’t need any extra water and I was actually quite worried that it was too wet as it looked more like very thick cake mix than pastry! I formed it into a flat disc, as instructed, and after about 40 minutes in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm, it looked and felt more solid.

tart.jpgThe other great tip (as Dad recalled at the crucial moment) is to roll it out between layers of clingfilm – we think that was either from Rachel Allen or Lorraine Pascale, or possibly both! Leave the top layer of clingfilm on while you press it into the tart tin too. I filled mine with Bonne Maman Berries and Cherries jam and then poured in the filling (125g each of melted butter,  caster sugar and ground almonds plus 3 eggs). Bake for 45 minutes at 175C  – you might need to cover it with foil after 30 minutes. When it’s cold take it out of the tin and top it with thick royal icing and festive decorations.

I don’t normally include the recipe in my blog posts but this really was lovely so it’s worth sharing…and I made pastry!


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