#381 Poor Knight’s Pudding with Raspberries. This was absolute heaven! The sweet-tart raspberries where made so delicious with their seasoning of cinnamon. Obviously with all that butter and cream it is not for dieters, but a portion does count as one of your five fruit and veg, so it’s not all bad. A perfect pud: 10/10.
The tale of this pie is of personal pain and anguish. Let me tell you the tale…
It was my work-buddy Chandra’s PhD thesis defence yesterday and she requested that I made this pie rather a cake for when she came out. Great stuff, thought I, any excuse to make something out of the book, plus the raspberry is my favourite fruit so it has got to be a winner. This pie is an eighteenth century pie and requires the fruit to be cooked in the pastry casing and then in the last five minutes, a custard to be poured in through the hole in the pastry. This was the usual way to make a fruity pie in those days, apparently. Anyway, Griggers says to serve it hot or warm, so I nipped back to my apartment to make it. I popped the pie into the oven and got the custard – or caudle as it was called then – ready.
Unfortunately the raspberries were so juicy that there was no room for any caudle, so I ran over the road and bought some straws from the shop with the inspired idea that I would suck the spare juice out. Hoping the pie had cooled slightly I attempted to suck some out – I think because time was becoming an issue I didn’t notice the fact that this was 170°C fruit syrup too much, but then as I realized just how much syrup there was, my nervous system kicked in. Cue much wincing and swearing. After about 15 minutes of this, I had finally cleared enough space to pour the caudle in. Mouth pretty sore, but not major damage done. Popped the pie back in the over for its final five minutes and rushed it back to Rice University. It was only whilst driving down towards work that I noticed the skin of the roof of mouth sloughing off and dangling upon my red raw tongue. She had better bloody like this pie. Luckily it went down well. On returning home later that evening, I rinsed my mouth out with Listerine before bed. More agony. Then, in the morning, I thought I would clean my tongue as well as my teeth as it was burnt and may have had some nasty bacteria there trying to infect the poor thing. Bad idea. I left for work with bleeding tongue. Hopefully it won’t go gangrenous and I won’t have to have my face removed.
To make the pie, you need to start with the pastry. In the eighteenth century, puff pastry will have been used, but Griggers goes for the sweet rich shortcrust and gives an ingredients list for it. Sieve 12 ounces of plain flour along with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Next, add 8 ounces of cubed butter or a combination of butter and lard. Use a mixer or food processor, to rub the butter into the flour. If you like to keep it real, use your hands or one of those pastry cutters as I did. The important thing is to keep everything as cold as possible – use butter straight out of the fridge and turn that A/C as low as you can! Once the butter is rubbed in, add an egg yolk (keep the white) and two or three tablespoons of ice-cold water, enough to bring everything to a dough. Don’t worry if you add too much, you can add some more flour. Knead the dough briefly and then pop it in the fridge to rest and firm up again.
Preheat your oven to 190°C (425°F) and place a baking sheet on one of the shelves. Now roll out two-thirds of your dough and line your pie dish with it. If it is warm in the kitchen, roll it out on some cling film, this will stop it from breaking up. A top tip for you there. The dish needs to be 2 to 3 inches deep, Griggers doesn’t mention a diameter, but I went with an eight inch diameter one. Now arrange a pound of raspberries in a layer in the pie and sprinkle over 4 ounces of sugar (or less, if the raspberries are particularly sweet).
Roll out the remainder of the pastry to form a lid, gluing it on with a brushing of the reserved egg white. Trim the edges and decorate if you wish – I went with a mortar board motif, seeing as it was a PhD defence. Brush with more egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Make sure you leave a good-sized hole in the centre. Place in the oven on the hot baking tray and bake for 15 minutes before turning down the heat to 190°C (375°F). The point of the hot baking tray is so that the pastry bottom crisps up before the raspberries give up their juice, preventing a soggy pastry bottom to the pie. The pie should be cooked until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp, around 40 minutes.
Whilst it is cooking, prepare the caudle: bring 4 fluid ounces of single and 4 of double cream to a boil in a saucepan. As soon as boiling point is reached pour them over two egg yolks, whisking vigorously to prevent making scrambled eggs. In the final 5 minutes of cooking, take the pie out of the oven and slowly pour the caudle into the pie using a funnel and return to the oven so the caudle can thicken. Serve hot or warm. Oh, she makes it sound so easy. Looking back, it would have been better to pile the raspberries in the middle slightly so when it collapsed there would have been some space for the caudle. It was also suggested that instead of using a straw, I should have used a baster or a pipette or something. Retrospect is a wonderful thing.
#297 Raspberry Pie. Ah, the raspberry. There is nothing better than stumbling across some wild raspberries when walking in the woods. The pie itself was reminiscent of the French clafoutis, where fruit is cooked in custard in a pastry case, though without the lid. I love raspberries, I love custard and I love pastry, so this could not have been a disappointment. I have to say it was delicious, even though I my taste-buds were not working at their best at the time. The caudle had thickened up and mixed with the juice, and it wasn’t overly sweet either. Jane says that you can use any soft fruit for this pie – gooseberries work particularly well apparently – so I shall be definitely this again whenever there is a glut of soft fruits. Though without the second-degree burns this time. 8.5/10.
I made this dessert to go after the duck with mint and sauce paloise as it was all very rich, the idea being that it would cleanse the palate and all that. Plus it’s a chance to use lots of the dark summer fruits now that they’re on the wane a bit. (That said, they are just coming through in the wild – when Butter and I went to Chatsworth House for a walk in the woods, we found wild raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.) I had mentioned making this fruit salad a few times, but people always opted for something else. This time, I just made it and didn’t tell anyone what they were having; a strategy I may use again. What seems to put folk off is the addition of the tea, of course, and think it’s just some weird post-war thing (I must admit, I thought that too), but Griggers says that it is delicious and that you would never guess the delicious sweet liquid is mainly Earl Grey.
You can any fruit you like and in any quantity, though it is best to stick to dark and red soft fruits. I stuck to what Jane suggests: 1 lb purple plums, stoned and chopped; 1 lb black cherries, stoned; ½ lb black grapes, halved; ½ lb strawberries, halved (or sliced if they are large) and 4 ounces of raspberries. Arrange the fruit in a glass bowl in layers, using sliced strawberries to line the bowl, and sprinkling sugar as you go. Cover and leave overnight. Next day, make a double strength brew of Earl Grey or orange pekoe tea and leave to cool. Pour it onto the bowl so that it almost comes to the top. Taste the tea and add more sugar if necessary. Decorate with mint leaves. There is no need to serve it with anything at all.
#179 Fruit Salad with Tea. Really, really good! A complete surprise and a taste sensation. The tea was light, sweet and delicious, and Jonty and Butters didn’t guess that there was tea in there. The fruit had gone soft and juicy, looking like little jewels. I didn’t think a fruit salad could be so good! I shall never make a fruit salad any other way again. 8/10
FYI: The Earl Grey referred to in Earl Grey tea is the second Earl Grey, who was a Prime Minister in the 1830s. He was sent some tea flavoured with bergamot oil as a gift from China, and so it was forever named after him
The quintessential English pudding for, er, summertime. The summer pudding is one of my favourite desserts; I’d never made one before, but had eaten many. It is my favourite because it contains a massive load of summer berries, in particular, raspberries. For those of you that don’t know, a summer pudding contains lightly stewed summer berries encased in slightly stale bread. The ‘soggy’ bread seems to put many people off, but it doesn’t even seem like bread. Trust me. Apparently, the summer pudding arose in care homes of yore because many invalids couldn’t stomach the rich and heavy pastry or suet puddings.
Make this pudding whilst there is a glut of summer berries that are in season and therefore won’t cost a fortune. (The original recipe is for a huge one that serves eight to ten people, but I halved all the ingredients).
Place a pound of summer berries in a bowl with 4 ounces of caster sugar. Grigson says to use blackcurrants, or a mixture of raspberries, redcurrants and blackberries. The truth is, you can use whatever you want – chopped strawberries are a common addition, for example. Stir, cover and leave overnight. Add the fruit and the juices to a saucepan and bring to a boil and simmer for two minutes to lightly cook the fruit. Next, prepare the pudding basin – you’ll need a 2 ½ pint one for this amount of fruit. Cut a circle of slightly stale white bread for the bottom of the bowl, and then cut wide strips for the edges which should overlap as you place them inside the mould to produce a strong wall with no leaks – make sure you remove the crusts!. Once they are all arranged, pour in half the berry mixture, then add a slice of bread, then the rest of the mixture. Cut more bread make a lid and then fold over or trim any surplus bits. Put a plate on top and weight it down with a couple of food cans and place in the fridge overnight. Turn the pudding out onto a plate and serve with plenty of cream. (Grigson suggests making some extra berry sauce to cover any bread that has not become soaked, though you can get around this by dipping te bread in the berry juices before you place them in the pudding basin.)
#173 Summer Pudding – 9.5/10. It is jostling with Sussex Pond Pudding for first place in the pudding stakes for me. What is there not to like about a big load of tart berries and a dollop of cream? Anyone squeamish about the soggy bread really needn’t be – it is an English classic and everyone should try it (if not this one, then the Sussex Pond Pudding!).
Since Greg had tonsillitis, I simply had to make some ice cream! Greg chose (#42) Soft Fruit Ice Cream (or Soffru, as Vic and Bob would say). It’s a great recipe and very different to the ginger ice cream I made last month; it doesn’t require any custards, so although there are several stages, it’s quite easy because you can take your time without the worry of your custard turning into scrambled eggs. If you’ve never made ice cream, this is probably the best place to start I reckon.
The main problem was finding soft fruits in April in Britain! It’s easy to buy strawberries, but they are so insipid unless they’re in season. I had a look in the greengrocers and saw some lovely ripe peaches and snapped them up. I knew I had raspberries frozen at home as a back up, and they are prefect with peaches – a la peach Melba.
To make the ice cream start by liquidising a pound of soft fruit along with the juice and zest of an orange in a blender, add about 4 ounces of icing sugar to sweeten it (you must use icing sugar as it dissolves instantly). This was folded into half a pint of double cream and a quarter of single single cream that had been whipped and sweetened, again with icing sugar. The mixture was poured into the ice cream maker. Meanwhile, I whipped two egg whites, and when the ice cream was softly frozen, I folded it into the whites, along with three tablespoons of Cointreau. Then I scoffed a load of it the next day. Oink!
#42 Soft Fruit Ice Cream – 8/10. This is a lovely fresh ice cream, very different to a custard-based one. It could have been improved by the addition of a more appropriate liqueur, such as creme de framboise, seeing as I used raspberries. However, I shall be practicing this one loads whenever I see some nice fruit in the summer!