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Sunday 28 February 2010

Pie of the Month - February

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.

Have I told you of my dilemma with photos? I can never decide which I like best.

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.

So I use them all - even though some have different backgrounds and lighting.

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

250g raisins
1 jar marmalade
pinch cinnamon

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. Use your hands to form the pastry into two disks, wrap in clingfilm and chill for twenty minutes, or longer if that suits.
  4. Make the filling: put everything else into a saucepan, along with the remaining orange juice, and heat, letting the mix simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake at 200°C until done, which for me, was about 40 minutes.

I just wouldn't like feeling that I used the wrong one.


  1. LOL, I certainly don't have a marble board, and in summer here, you have no choice but to use your hands at the temperature they are at, because if you try and make them colder, they'd heat up right away. Not to mention my kitchen temp is around 29 degrees C in summer. This is a delightful looking pie, whichever photo you look at.

  2. Mmmmmm, this looks gooood! Does this count as cake, do you think? I've given that up for lent, but I'd love to try this without having to wait for easter! And I like the last-minute thing. I'm very much a 'fly by the seat of my pants' type of girl, so it appeals to me!

  3. Oh my God, what a beautiful blog! What gorgeous pies! I can't believe you don't have a ring on your finger either!!

  4. Wow, with pies like that, I don't know why you don't have a ring on your finger either.

    I think its a curse of all culinary geniuses. *sigh*

    I feel your pain.

  5. I love the design of that pie, it looks beautiful!

  6. Yum, what an interesting idea.

  7. I'm waiting for the days we will be able to "scratch & smell" the blog!

  8. I love your inventiveness, and the way you write. Also, your pie is adorable! Have fun with your pie-a-month thing!

  9. Cakelaw - That's why I never really get why peole say that butter should be 'at room temperature'? What if you're baking in Sub-Saharan Africa?

    Jennie - Pie is not cake. And if that's a Pretty Woman reference you just made, I think I love you.

    MP - It's a sad, sad situation. :)

    T - Screw it, shall we just bake ourselves some rings?

    Chocolate Shavings - The minds of children's book illustrators!

    Argulove - I like to think so. Thanks :)

    Marie - You'll be wanting the Sant'Eustachio post in that case...

    Kuriouskitteh - Thanks! At the moment, I think it's going to be more of a scrabble around the kitchen near the end of the month thing, rather than out and out fun, but still. Pies rock! Thanks for checking mine out.

    Sathya - Thanks! I'll box one up and send it right out. :)

  10. maybe time to create piemeetic?

  11. Wow I love the simplicity of this pie! Never seen something like this, but considering how totally delicious it looks, feel I shall be making it very soon.

  12. ""What're ya gonna do with those *pies*, boys? ""...LOL

  13. The pie looks wonderful and reminds me of a recipe my grandma used to make called, and I have no idea why, sad cake and she swore by margarine for pie dough too. I believe it works well because it has a higher water content which evaporates during cooking leaving a nice flaky texture

  14. LOL! you're so funny, P! i demand step by step photos for your next pie! ;)

    and yes, i DO stop to wash my hands between each step to take photos... for every post. so i feel your pain. hehe. it's definitely quite a task to take on. =) having plenty of hand lotion available is the key, my friend.

  15. Judy - I am going to have to invest in a new nail brush, and get a manicure for next time. I believe they call it 'Nails For Males' in my local salon. *cringe*

    Edd - Sad cake? What a name. We don't name things well anymore. Did she put hearts on it, too? BTW I was reading he-eats.com yesterday and realised you have your own Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer and am so jealous of that AND your apron that I might not come back again. :)

    Astheroshe - :)

    Lucy - Do! You made choux for crying out loud!

    Pierre - :)

  16. Step by step pictures are a pain but it's nice when you've done them. Worse than having to clean your hands in between is the realisation that you've been so engrossed in what you are doing that you've skipped several stages and forgotten to take pictures. I've lost count of the things I've had to whisk out the oven quickly 2 mins after putting them in to take a "before" shot!!

    I've used Stork and baking margarine in my pastry and cupcakes. Personally I still think they taste good and I think that the margarine is less likely to cause a volcano effect on top of cupcakes.

  17. Your blog is soooooo fun! I always read the recipes all the way through, word for word, because you might just write something to make me laugh or smile right in the middle of the instructions. I love it!

  18. Mr P - it was a very rustic thing more of a giant eccles cake really, made to use up left over pastry. My kitchenaid is one of my favourite things well worth the money just annoying they are so expensive!

  19. This pie reminds me of my late nana. Thank you.

  20. Found you on Nigella's Forum - your content is fabulous. Loving the pie (and photography).

  21. This is awesome... and I think I need to make it!

  22. Lovely looking pie...............

  23. Oh! Looks yummy. I've never had a raisin pie but it sounds very interesting. The crust looks very nice with the hearts! Looking forward to more pies! - mary

  24. I have a marble board!!! Yes, I don't own a casserole dish or a loaf tin but I have somehow acquired a marble board. It is beautiful, and deadly. I am so terrified of dropping it on my foot.

    I like your pie! Have you tried giving pie to a hungry jeweller? Might address your ring situation.

  25. The pie looks so sweet with the heart cut outs on it :)

  26. Your raisin pie looks lovely. I think I'd like the orange better than the lemon. I can only eat a tiny slice of raisin pie as it is a very sweet pie. The Amish in the US call it "funeral pie" because they traditionally serve it at the meals held after funerals.

  27. Well my hands are always cold, so they are good pastry hands. I wonder why I'm so bad at making pastry, then?

    This pie is so cute! Raisin pie is an old fashioned recipe that you see in North America a lot.

  28. Such a lovely design on your crust. I'm going to have to remember to use it next time I make a pie. Lovely!



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