Various fruitlicious crumble

The crumble. No one I have ever met has ever turned away a hot bowl of crunchy, crumbly, apple-y crumble. This time, having desperately needed a dessert hit, and not having managed to venture past the fruit bowl and to the shops, I decided to take the beggars-can’t-be-choosers option and go with what I had. Various fruits.

You will need:
– various fruits. I went with a jumbled concoction of an apple, a couple of plums and a couple of nectarines
– zest and juice of one lemon
– 120g caster sugar
– 120g plain flour
– 100g ground almonds
– 150g butter (chopped)
– a couple of handfuls of chopped / slivered almonds
– nutmeg and cinnamon

Step 1 – Fry-day: this sounds kinda weird but you want to fry the fruits for a bit to get a bit of char on. Melt a tablespoon or so of butter (along with a teensy bit of olive oil) on quite a high heat so they don’t soften heaps (you’ll be baking it later), but go goldy on the outside. During the frying process, add about a teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon and a quarter of the sugar and also the lemon juice.

All fried up

All fried up

Step 2 – The world crumbles: Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. In a bowl, mix your flour, remaining sugar, ground almonds and the butter. Rub together until the mixture turns all crumbly (doesn’t have to be too fine like breadcrumbs).

Eat me

Eat me

Step 3 – Assembly of Fools: place your fruits in a baking dish, toss in the lemon zest and scatter the crumble mixture over the top. On top of that, sprinkle the almonds. Bake for around about 40 mins or until the crumble is golden (and the fruit is tender).

IMG_0861

I can, you can, pecan, toucan

I’m not sure where I was going with that title, but I am sure where I’m going with this post: pecan pie. The greatest of all pies, and if you disagree, then we’re absolutely not friends (unless you’re allergic…in which case, how unfortunate).

Anyhoo, pecan pie. Crunchy, nutty, golden, caramelly – what could possibly be better? There are two components to this recipe – the shell and the filling, so it does take a little bit of prep time – but it’s definitely worth it. And you’ll feel ever so vaguely healthy. Anything with nuts in it is good for you, isn’t it?

First up, the shell. You will need:
– 250 grams plain flour
– 190 grams unsalted butter, chopped
– 1 egg yolk (not strictly necessary, it just acts as a bit of extra shortening and gives the pastry more of that epic golden colour)
– Iced water

Step 1 – the world is crumbling around me: whack the butter and flour into a bowl and start rubbing it together. You want to rub the flour and the butter together so that you ultimately end up with what looks like really course bread crumbs. That way you’ll know the butter has been properly dispersed and you won’t end up with these random oily bits and random crumbly dry bits in your pastry. It usually takes me, say, 5-10 minutes to really get it all mixed. Now add your egg yolk if using.

So crumbly

Along with that, whack in a tablespoon or so of iced water. The idea is to add JUST enough water so that the pastry JUST comes together. Add a tablespoon, have a mix, add another tablespoon if you need (you really shouldn’t need more than that). If you use too much, it’ll basically mean that when you bake your pastry it’ll end up steaming and you’ll have this limp, soggy, sorry wonder instead of a crisp, short, crumbly shell of brilliance. Knead the dough for a couple of moments, flatten it into a disk shape of sorts, wrap in gladwrap and chill for an hour or so. (or longer…if, like me, you’ve forgotten about it)

Something like this…

Step two – shake and bake: Ok, so there’s no shaking per se, but we are baking. Roll out your perfectly chilled pastry into, say, half a centimetre thick. It really doesn’t matter – I’m a fan of a┬ádecent chunk of crispy pastry but you can make it thicker or thinner if you like – it’ll just effect how long you back it for. Lay your pastry in a pie tin (grease it first if it’s not non-stick), use a fork and prick little holes all around (this way you won’t get random air bubbles around the base of your pie crust), cover with baking paper and fill with dry beans / rice / baking stones, and bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the baking paper / weight and bake until just golden.

Pie shell…with a nice little bit where it’s cracked on the left. Oops

Now, the filling. For this one, you’ll need:
– 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
– 1 cup of golden syrup (well, I never said it was good for you)
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 3 large eggs
– 2 cups of pecans
– pinch of salt

Step 1 – stairway to caramelly heaven: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and simmer it until golden brown (give it a bit of a stir). Let the butter cool to room temperature, then add the golden syrup, sugar and salt and mix it all in. One at a time, whisk in the eggs, and then stir in the pecans. At this point, control your drooling.

Caramelly, pecan-y heaven

Pour this epic sea of deliciousness into your perfectly baked pie shell and bake at 190 degrees celcius (fan forced) for 10 minutes and then turn down to 180 degrees for another 15-20 minutes (or until it looks nice and golden). Let the pie hang out for a while, while the pecans get to know each other. It’ll set and go all treacle-y and also will cool down to avoid the brutal error of eating hot sugar. Ouch! Serve with ice cream, cream or just guzzle by itself!

Yum, yum pig’s bum