Whenever I make a pie like this, I look at my ring finger and think, 'Why isn't there a ring on it?'
Did I really say I would bake a pie every month for 12 months? I did, didn't I? Well, that's OK. I reserve the right for it to be a last day of the month rush if necessary; I can do what I like.
I have an awful feeling that I promised 'process photos' last time. In fact, I know it to be the case. Listen, sometimes I make false promises. I'm sorry! They haven't materialised. I'm not passing the blame, but my erstwhile assistant photographer went cycling with the boys yesterday, and I wasn't about to spend my whole morning rubbing fat into flour, stopping to wash my hands, taking a few pictures and then repeating the whole process. No sirree. That's just not how I roll.
Now. Let's talk about this pie, which as I type hurriedly, I am munching on a slice of (and very good it is, too). I completely intended to make this month's Pie of the Month a recipe from Barbara Swell's book, but I got sidetracked while flicking through a copy of this one. If you also have a copy, I'm sure you have the same dilemma - it is particularly greed inducing, and I am right now trying to come up with a way to get meatloaf onto this week's dinner menu.
(We don't actually have a dinner menu chez P. I believe that's called speaking figuratively. Sorry if you feel deceived.)
The recipe that caught my eye was for Raisin Pie. I loved the idea of such a simple filling (raisins, lemon, nuts and sugar), and given that the weather is as yet far from Spring-like, I thought it would seem quite seasonal. But when it came to making it, I realised I didn't have all of the ingredients to hand, and wasn't in the mood for shopping. So I allowed myself a little leeway, and made up my own, even simpler filling. No lemon? Use an orange - you know, the old one that's been in the fruit bowl forever. No nuts? Leave them out. Not quite enough sugar? Just use a jar of marmalade instead.
You can see I was quite relaxed about the whole thing. And not just with the ingredients.
Everyone always says that you need cold hands when you make pastry, and that you should roll it out on a chilled surface. I think they mean a marble board when they say that mind you, because I don't see how you'd get a kitchen counter into the fridge.
I think we all of us ignore the marble board trick, because let's face it, none of us actually have one. But the cold hands thing really irks me. Some cooks actually go as far as to recommend you hold your hands in a sinkful of cold water before starting to make pastry. If you have actually done this yourself, well then I'd recommend you to throw that recipe out straight away, because quite frankly darling, that isn't a cookbook you have in your possession, but a torture manual.
I mean, come on.
For the record, I just use my hands at whatever temperature they are, and I roll on the sideboard (well floured, obviously). I'm no grand master or anything, but so far, my pies have turned out fine.
Oh, and I shocked myself this time by using, instead of butter, a vegetable margarine called 'Stork - Perfect for Pastry'. And let me tell you - the name is a good one. This beats any all-butter shortcrust I have ever turned out, though I hate to admit it because it seems so low rent.
I have done so though; honesty is the best policy and all that. You can use all butter in yours, I won't tell.
Orange Raisin Pie
You will need:
250g plain flour
125g butter (or Stork!)
1 orange, juiced
1 jar marmalade
- Make your pastry first; cut the fat into the flour, and using your fingertips, rub the two together. Stop when the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Add orange juice, a little at a time, forking it through, until the mixture just comes together. I used half the orange juice - you might need more. I believe I have already demonstrated to you that I don't believe in the science of pastry - just wing it, it will be fine!
- Use your hands to form the pastry into two disks, wrap in clingfilm and chill for twenty minutes, or longer if that suits.
- Make the filling: put everything else into a saucepan, along with the remaining orange juice, and heat, letting the mix simmer for 5 minutes.
- Get the pastry out of the fridge, and roll out the disks. Use one to line your pie dish (20cm), and the other to form the pie lid. I cut heart shapes out of the top to resemble a pie I remember from an illustrated book we had when I was little (the ones where you had to find the little yellow duck in each picture), but a few knife slits will do the job just as well.
- Bake at 200°C until done, which for me, was about 40 minutes.