Monday, 29 October 2012

Canadian Pumpkin Pie

Last weekend I made a “Canadian” Pumpkin pie, and if you think that is weird, wait till you hear the reason for the pie. It was to take to a farewell dinner with our lovely neighbours – socialising with neighbours, in London – UNHEARD OF!!! J

Anyway, our neighbours is a lovely Canadian couple and they are going back home, they have invited us for dinner to their house and cooked New Zealand lamb in our honour and I have decided to make a “Canadian” pumpkin pie for them.

Now, I know a few people have a bit of a thing about pumpkin pies - its too sweet, too soft, too bland, too American, whatever. The first time I’ve made it, I followed Humming Bird Bakery cookbook recipe – it turned out looking just like it did in the book, but Mr Ranty wasn’t too impressed, and I was determined to make a pumpkin pie that will woe him.

So, here it is, a Maple, Bourbon, Pecan Pumpkin pie – aka “Canadian” Pumpkin Pie.
The recipe mainly follows “Maple-Bourbon Pie” recipe from MyRecipes with a couple of tweaks.

Canadian Pumpkin Pie with a Crunch

Crust :
100 g plain white flour
150 g strong Canadian flour
110 g butter, cold
1 egg yolk

Filling :
1 x 425 g can of pumpkin pure (I used Libby’s pure, any American store should sell it)
65 g brown sugar
160 g maple syrup
185 g evaporated milk
3 Tbsp of bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

40 g pecans, whole
2 Tbsp maple syrup

50g cream cheese
1 Tbsp maple syrup

Pulse flour, butter and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix the yolk with 2 Tbsp of water and add it slowly to the pastry, until it just comes together. Take care not to over-mix it, the pastry should be quite short around the edges, but looking quite solid in the middle. Flatten the pastry out to round about an inch high, wrap it in cligfilm and place in the fridge for an hour or so. You don’t have to pre-shape it into a round if you don’t want to, I just find that it helps with the rolling out of the pastry later.
After an hour, take the pastry out of the fridge, roll it out to about ¼ inch thick, large enough to fit the pie dish. I roll all my shortcrust pasty on a clingfilm covered bench – makes it much easier to pick it up afterwards. Butter the pie dish generously with butter, and line it with the pastry, pressing the pastry together where it crumbled to create a solid pie shell. Cover the pastry shell with a cling film and place it in the freezer while you are working on the filling.
Preheat oven to 180C (I have a fan oven, you might turn it a bit higher if using a non-fan oven).

In a large bowl, place pumpkin pure, brown sugar and maple syrup.
Add salt and eggs
Add milk, vanilla extract, bourbon and spices
Mix everything well together
 In a separate bowl whisk egg whites until stiff peaks and add the whites to the mixture
Gently fold in egg whites, keep as much air in as you can, but make sure that the whites are distributed evenly
Caramelise pecans with maple syrup in a non-stick pan over medium heat.

Take the pie shell out of the fridge, remove the clingfilm. Scatter the pecans over the base of the shell.
Fill the shell right to the top with the pumpkin filling.

Mix cream cheese and maple syrup into a paste and drop dollops of it all around the edges.
PS: to be honest, I am not convinced on that, I don’t think it adds anything extra and I won’t bother with it next time.

Bake the pie in a pre-heated oven for 50-55 minutes, until the filling feels spongy to touch, but not sticky.

Cool completely before serving. I served it with crème fraiche, but I don’t think it needs anything to be honest.

I must have gone a bit heavy-handed on the cloves, as the flavour was quite strong, but it settled in really well the next day.

I couldn’t fit all of the filling into a single pie dish, so I re-used the scraps of pastry and made a smaller pie tin. Baked the small pie for 25 minutes and it tasted just as good as the big pie.

Well, as for the feedback – Mr Ranty definitely approves, its not too sweet, bourbon and maple syrup bring a very nice flavour and the pecans give it just the right texture.
The Canadian couple want my recipe, a guy who wasn’t “into” pumpkin pies had two helpings – now, that’s what I call a result!!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Hop to it - Bunny Cake

Has it seriously been nearly a year since my last post??!!! Shocking!!
Well, I’d better change that!! Rightto , I am committing to post something at least once a month, but hopefully it will be more frequent than that, especially with Halloween and Christmas coming up.
Man, I love holidays !! Any excuse to bake :)
So far I am planning :
-          Halloween themed cupcakes – I am thinking pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing and chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing
-          Pumpkin and Bourbon pie
-          Gingerbread house
-           Panettone
-          Christmas cake
-          Mince pies

Hmmmm….. I think that’s about it – pretty ambitious, but lets see how I go.

Just to prove that I am still baking, here is a photo of a cake I’ve made for Ms Rantlet’s 1st birthday – I know!!! 1 already!!! Where did the time go?

It’s a two-base cake – head is a lemon cake and bow and ears is a strawberry cake. I used Rachel Allen’s Easy Lemon cake recipe as a base for both cakes, with a couple of variations :
Lemon cake :
110 g butter, softened and diced
110 g caster sugar
1 lemon, finely grated zest + juice
2 eggs
150 g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp yellow food colouring

Strawberry cake :
110 g butter, softened and diced
90 g caster sugar
3 Tbsp thick strawberry jam
2 eggs
150 g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp milk
½  tsp red food colouring

Decoration :
Lemon curd
Strawberry jam
1 to 2 packs of shop-bought Royal icing
Food colourings
Coloured sprinkles

Bake both cakes as described in the recipe, until firm to touch.
I wanted the lemon cake to be quite bright yellow and strawberry cake to be pale pink, hence the different amounts of food colouring. You can use any food colouring you like, but I prefer “SugarFlair” – they are quite expensive, but very thick in texture, which means you only need a little bit of it and it goes a long way.  
Cool completely on wire racks. Cut each cake in two layers. Sandwich lemon cake with lemon curd and strawberry cake with strawberry jam.
Arrange the “head “ cake on your presentation board, cut hears out of the second cake, and whatever is left makes up your bow-tie – simple!!

Roll out a pack of royal icing on a surface covered with cling film – makes it much easier to work with. Apply a thin spread of curd to the lemon cake – top and sides – and cover it with icing. Tuck in the edges and cut out any extra bits. Use that extra icing to make bunny’s face,  lemon curd will act as a glue to stick bits of icing on top of each other.
Roll out second pack of royal icing and cover the ears and the bow-tie with it – don’t forget to apply strawberry jam on top of the cake before covering it with the icing.
Decorate the cake as you like – I used my fingers and had very dirty looking fingers the next day, a painting brush would have worked better, I think – oh well, next time.

You can always use any butter or cream cheese icing instead and decorate the cake with candy – that would work too. Just type "bunny cake" into Google Images and you'll see loads of examples and different decoration ideas.

The cake was a success, Mr Rantlet enjoyed it, which is the main thing

Gotta run, got a banana bread in the oven, back soon with more recipes