Tag Archives: Pastry

Baking

Baking is one of the broadest terms when it comes to cooking as it covers so much from the humble baked spud through cakes, pastry, breads, pizza and uses such a wide range of equipment and even different types of ovens – however throughout all this diversity the following statement is true of all the variations…

A wood-burning pizza oven baking pizzas at Mau...
Image via Wikipedia

Baking is the cooking of prepared foods by convected dry heat in an oven using natural moisture.

You can use any number of specialist tins and trays for specific baked items as well general purpose ovens, pastry ovens, pizza ovens and forced air convection ovens. Regardless of the tins or trays and the oven that is used they should always be loaded within their capacity and should be cleaned regularly to prevent spilt food and particles starting a fire.

George’s awesome week of awesome III

This is the final part of the saga (for now) you can find the beginning here and the middle here if you want the full story :)

Your Awesome

Friday’s cookery practical class is all about pastry. No, not four hours of making pastry, but four hours of Pastry chef-ing that’s desserts to most folk or as I like to call it the demon class that will make me even fatter :)

Still my newly acquired knife skills were given a workout as we went though some training on chopping fruit and we also made some absolutely fantastic scones, of course there was more to it than simply the practical aspect. We also covered knife skills, general handling procedures, the uniform and why it is what it is and also hygiene practices, amongst a host of other things that I won’t bore you with.

All in all it’s been one of the busiest, most exciting, scary, thrilling and rewarding weeks of my professional life while simultaneously making me feel like a teenager and an old fogey all at the same time. It means I now have commitments to a path that I’m hoping will lead me into Culinary Arts in 2011 year as well as other commitments outside of college and I can see a very full and busy schedule ahead of me for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, I don’t see how I can fit everything I have to do into the time that is available. So something has to give. No this is not the bit where I say I’m giving up on this blog, but it is the bit where I say that I may not be posting as regularly in future due to other commitments.

Elly has already said that she intends to post more and I can see there being some crossover between what I’m studying and this blog so hopefully I will be able to adapt some of my college work where suitable to the blog format.

But enough of that, I feel the need to take a little time out here to thank a few people for helping me get this far. So, in no particular order…

Thank you to Kieran and Thea from Murphy’s Ice-cream. Thanks for not giving me a job (it truly was the best thing you could have done for me ;)) and reminding me of what confidence and a bit of neck can do for you when you really want something.

Thank you Ciaran in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud for giving me a try in a kitchen I had no place being in (with my lack of skills) and giving me the chance to see what life in a fine dining kitchen is all about.

A huge thanks to John in CPLN Area Local Employment Service for being the only person I encountered in “the system” who seemed genuinely to care about the people he worked with, doing everything he could to reduce the live register by one, being so hell bent on getting me started in a new career and for helping me find and investigate all the options that were open to me. Our country needs more people like him.

My family and friends, you have all given so much of yourselves to help me over the last year I just don’t know where to begin in thanking you all, just know that I love and appreciate all of you for it and I will be looking for ways that I can return the favour.

And finally I want to thank Elly, my wife, my lover, my best friend, my reason to get up in the morning and my reason to go to bed at night, without your help and support I would never have had the belief in myself to even attempt this and I know that with you, I’m a better person than I ever could be without.

Wow, that sounds like the sycophantic ramblings of some overrated starlet receiving an Oscar but you know I’ve won a bigger prize than an Oscar… Opportunity, it doesn’t come knocking too often and when it does, it take hard work and determination to maximise it. A lot of people have helped me to get to where I am right now and I will do everything in my power to honour their efforts by giving this my all.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie hot from the oven
Sweet Potato Pie hot, Hot, HOT from the oven

Ingredients;

1 sweet pastry pie crust
1kg large sweet potatoes
50g unsalted butter, melted
100g golden caster sugar
4 level tablespoons plain flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs

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This pie uses veg instead of fruit so it’s a healthy(ier) Soul Food dessert and what’s even better, it tastes great. This recipe makes enough pie filling to fill two sweet pastry pie crusts, so I usually freeze half instead of baking two pies (it’s better for my waistline:)).

To start with, heat your oven to 200C, wash your sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a fork. Then lay them out on a baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour. When they’re done they should be soft and cooked through fully, I use a skewer or cocktail stick to check they are soft in the middle. Once they are done get them out of the oven and turn it down to 180C.

You will need to leave them to cool for a few minutes once they come out of the oven so you don’t burn your fingers at the next step, which is to peel them and get rid of the skin. This isn’t difficult, just pull at the skin and it should come off fairly easily once they’re cooked. The hotter they are the easier I find it to peel them, put it’s a fine line between hot enough and sore fingers, so be careful!

Put the flesh of the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and mash them. I find a potato masher works best but you can use a fork. Next melt the butter over a low heat and add it along with the sugar, flour, nutmeg, vanilla extract and a large pinch of cinnamon to the mashed sweet potato.

Whisk 2 eggs in a separate bowl or mug and add this to the rest, then mash everything together until it’s completely combined.

Next spoon the mixture into the pastry case and spread it around evenly. Take the left over uncooked pastry, roll it out and cut it into strips to “cover” the pie. The easiest way I’ve found to get the woven finish is to do the weaving on a sheet of greaseproof paper and then flip this onto the rest of the pie.

Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the exposed pastry. Make sure the oven has cooled to 180C and put the pie in for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

I usually serve this with either some ice-cream or whipped cream. It’s best eaten fresh, just allowed to cool for about half an hour, but it can also be eaten cold.

Recipe: Sweet Vanilla Pastry Pie Case

Sweet Vanilla Pastry Pie Case
An Empty Sweet Vanilla Pastry Pie Case

Ingredients;

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
125g good quality unsalted cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out
1 large egg, beaten
A splash of milk

Makes approx 500g

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This is an all purpose sweet pastry mix for making pies and it is remarkably easy to make.

Start by sieving the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Using your (clean) hands gently work the butter in to the flour and icing sugar mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Next add the milk and egg. Work it together using your hands until you have a ball of dough. Don’t over work it at this point as it will become chewy not crumbly. I’ve also heard that cold hands make better pastry, so if you have warm hands, rinse them under the cold tap as much as you can to cool them before you start to work the dough together.

Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean work surface and place your ball of dough on this, then flatten the ball until it’s about two and a half centimetres thick. Sprinkle some flour over it and then wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge to rest for at least thirty minutes.

At this point you can also place the wrapped pastry in a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month.

Next grab a 9 inch cake tin, preferably one with a removable bottom, and grease it lightly using some kitchen roll and vegetable oil.

Once the dough has rested, sprinkle some more flour on to a large work surface and grab a rolling pin. You want to roll the dough out turning it occasionally until it’s about half a centimetre thick.

The best way to get the pastry from your work surface to the cake tin is to roll it gently around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the oiled tin. Carefully ease the pastry into the tin making sure to get it into the corners. Trim off any excess, by running a knife around the top of the tin and then using a fork, prick the base all over. Place the tin and pastry into your freezer for about 30 minutes, while you heat your oven to 180C.

Take some greaseproof paper and scrunch it up, then use this to line the visible surface of your pastry case, making sure to press it into the sides as well. Next, fill it with either ceramic baking beads or plain rice and bake blind for about 10 minutes.

Remove the baking beads (or rice) and the greaseproof paper and bake the pastry case for another 10 minutes until it firms up and gets a bit biscuit like.