Friday, 1 January 2016

Festive Fruit Pie

Most of the Christmas leftovers have been dealt with by now. The last slice of ham, a few chunks of turkey and half a dozen chestnuts, together with a few mushrooms, in a mustard-y cream and white wine sauce, made a very tasty pie. What hasn't been eaten has been packed into the freezer, hopefully to make pies and curries over the next few weeks, and not just forgotten about. However, I am also determined not to leave too many half-used jars and packets of seasonal ingredients lurking about, as by springtime I'm past the point of wanting to eat things like mincepies and cranberry sauce.

Allow me a slight digression here - have you noticed that cream cheese is sold in 280g packs now, and not 300g? Luckily I was using a modern cheesecake recipe which took account of that, but many of my older recipes use multiples of 300g, so leftovers are inevitable, even if buying smaller packs, which are proportionally more expensive, to make up the weight.

Even so, as a result of scaling down a cream cheese frosting recipe, I was left with around half a pack of cream cheese and happened to read this recipe at Belleau Kitchen for a delicious sounding pastry using cream cheese, orange zest and ground almonds. It seemed perfect for the 'leftovers' fruit pie that I had decided to make. I made a slight adaptation to the recipe - I reduced the sugar to 50g and used icing sugar (which I think is incorporated more easily into pastry), and also used the zest of a small orange instead of a clementine, but otherwise I followed Dom's recipe, which originates from Dan Lepard's 'Short and Sweet'.

I used 2/3 of the pastry to line a deep pie dish, and the remainder to make a lattice for the top. I assembled the lattice on a sheet of baking parchment, and chilled it, along with the pie case, for about 20 minutes, before putting the pie together for baking.

For the filling I mixed together:
200g of mincemeat
roughly 125g of a good quality cranberry sauce (over 50% fruit)
two eating apples, peeled and cored and cut into small dice
80g of ready-to-eat dried dates, snipped into small pieces
1 teaspoon of ground rice to absorb excess fruit juices

I put the filling into the unbaked pie case, and placed the pre-made lattice on top. The excess pastry around the top of the pie case was folded over the edges of the lattice to seal the base and lattice together. The top was brushed with beaten egg white and sprinkled with caster sugar and the pie was baked at 180C for about 40 minutes until golden brown.

Both elements of this pie were very good! The pastry was very short and crumbly, but very easy to work with, and probably would have been even more delicious with a blander pie filling. The orange zest could be tasted in the pastry when eaten alone, but it was overwhelmed by the spices and other flavours in the mincemeat mixture. The pie filling still tasted predominantly of mincemeat but the addition of tart cranberries and apples cut through the usual sweetness and added a greater depth of flavour. The overall spice level of the mincemeat was reduced too, allowing the combination of dried and fresh fruits to dominate. Altogether, a successful experiment - the pastry is wonderful (thanks Dom!) it's worth buying cream cheese specially for it, and the filling mixture reduced my stock of opened jars while tasting much better than such a haphazard mixture might have done!


Snowy said...

An interesting pastry. Your tart looks so good, Suelle - great looking lattice top, and the filling sounds good too.

Choclette Blogger said...

I keep meaning to try this pastry of Dom's, but as usual with the many things I want to try, I haven't yet got around to it. They changed the measure of cream cheese about a year ago - a cheeky way of saving money which I do not approve of. The containers are exactly the same size.