Sunday, 17 March 2013

2013 a Pie Odyssey: Custard Slices

The dictionary definition of pie reads:

"a baked food having a filling of fruit, meat, pudding, etc., prepared in a pastry-lined pan or dish and often topped with a pastry."

So after great internal debate I think these count, besides they were my introduction to the making of rough puff pastry, a stalwart of many a pie so they are, at the very least, pie practice.

I chose Paul Hollywood's recipe presented as one of the 'technical challenges' on the last season of The Great British Bake Off,  and I have to say fair play to the contestants, it's not easy even with all the instructions, let alone with half of them missing! I had originally intended to choose a recipe from my lovely new book 'Pastry' by the amazing Michel Roux, King of Pastry, but I left it at home so I'm going to try his method next time and compare the results. Anyway it was Mother's Day and these are a favourite of The Oracle so I was making them for her.

My first observation of rough puff pastry and this recipe is that it takes an awful long time, just by virtue of the million times you seem to need to roll it out, fold it up and put it back in the fridge to rest. I don't know how long they had to make it on GBBO but I am seriously impressed they managed to get the pastry made, the crème pâtissière made and cooled and the slices assembled, iced and dried. G&T break aside, it probably took The Oracle and I about 4 hours! 

The thing I found the hardest, as always, was rolling out the pastry to the required shape. I have enough problems rolling out circles, but trying to get two 8 inch squares for baking that were the same thickness all over was almost beyond me! Next time I am definately going to make a template as although I used a ruler, I measured in the middle not at the sides and the corners were a bit lacking! This becomes a bit of an issue when you are supposed to be filling the middle with crème pâtissière.

As for the crème pâtissière, something else I had not made before, I was quite pleased with how it turned out, although I forgot the add the butter. I don't really know how much difference this made to how it set or to the flavour. It thickened up a lot and I was pleased but if I am honest it probably could have done with being slightly more set so maybe next time I will cook it a bit longer and not leave essential bits out. 

When it comes to assembling the slice, you put one layer of the pastry (which had risen a lot more than I had thought it would, in fact I was quite taken aback when I saw the size of it coming out the oven.) in an 8inch square tin lined with foil up the sides. Add the crème pâtissière and put the second slice on top. I did this face down to leave a nice even surface for icing. Your pour on the icing, which I think was also a bit thick despite adding a lot more water than the recipe called for. Then pipe on 10 parallel lines of chocolate and run a toothpick through them to create the marbled effect on the top. I think this was the most satisfying part, it felt like I was doing something properly fancy!

Cutting the uber slice into 8 smaller ones was a bit traumatic, the icing hadn't really dried and kept sticking to the knife, the ones at the side where the pastry hadn't really stretched to the corners were an interesting shape and my nerves were pretty shot by the end of it all. Anyway I was able to cut at least one that looked as it should, and as it was Mother's Day I gave it to The Oracle who liked it so much she had another straight after! Pa on the other hand screwed up his face and gave it a 4 out of 10, far too sweet for him and I had to say on this occasion I agreed. I imagine the 5 I left in the fridge when I went home probably all went in the same mouth!

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