I feel very concious that I have not posted anything in almost a month. Things have been VERY busy around here! As I mentioned, we were in Portugal in September and then the week after we had some visitors from Canada staying up until this past weekend, so to say the least my baking has suffered. We have had an amazing past month but now I finally have the time to finish off my bakes and get on to posting some other stuff I’ve been excited to share.
So this past week I have completed weeks five and ten of the Bake off. I will admit that I took the easy route with making the scones, and do realise that they actually made 3 things in that challenge…. BUT I have never made scones before (I can hear the gasps of horror from miles around) so it was good experience.
Mini Pear Pies
These little pies are realllly tasty. I halved the recipe below to make 3 pies and instead of using only the zest of the orange, I cut it up and tossed the whole thing in! the added bonus of this recipe it that the poaching syrup makes your whole house smell absolutely wonderful!
For the rough puff pastry
- 200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 100g butter in a block, frozen
- 100g lard, in a block, frozen
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
For the poached pears
- 6 large, firm pears straight and tall with stems)
- 300g caster sugar
- 500ml white wine
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange
- For the rough puff pastry, measure the flour into a bowl and grate the butter and lard into the flour. Use a knife to coat the butter and lard in the flour. Add 120-150ml/4-5fl oz cold water and mix until it comes together to form a firm dough.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a rectangle. Fold the top third down and then fold the bottom third up and over. Turn it 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat the rolling and folding. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more so you have a total of four folds and turns. Set aside, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, for the poached pears, peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Tip the caster sugar into a large saucepan with 400ml/14fl oz water, the white wine, cinnamon and orange zest and slowly bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for three minutes.
- Add the pears to the pan. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Reserving the syrup, remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool on kitchen paper. Using a melon baller or small teaspoon remove the core from the pears.
- Return the syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half and the syrup is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- When the fruit and syrup are cool, roll out the chilled pastry to a rectangle measuring 60x20cm/23½x8in and a thickness of no more than 5mm/¼in.
- Using a sharp knife and a ruler cut the pastry into long strips 8mm/⅓in wide. You will need about 18-20 strips.
- Brush the pears with the cooled sugar syrup and starting from the bottom, wrap the pastry strips around the pears. When you come to the end of the pastry strip, brush the end lightly with syrup and press to adhere to the next pastry strip. Continue wrapping until you reach the top of the pear. (Three strips should cover each pear). Tuck the end of the last pastry piece behind the previous dough spiral.
- Cut out six leaf shapes from the remaining pastry. Draw veins on the leaves with a sharp knife and stick one leaf below the stem of each pastry pear, with a little sugar syrup.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C(Fan)/400F/Gas 6. Place the pastry covered pears on a baking tray. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes then serve with a drizzle of the reduced sugar syrup.
Mary’s Tea Time Scones
- 250g self raising flour
- 1 rounded tsp baking powder
- 40g softened butter
- 25g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- about 100 ml milk
- Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (200C Fan).
- Put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
- Beat the egg in a measuring jug. Make up to 100ml/3½fl oz with the milk, then set aside a tablespoon for glazing the scones later.
- Gradually add the egg and milk to the dry ingredients, stirring it in until you have a soft slightly sticky dough. I had to use ALL of the egg and milk mixture and then made some extra for the glaze.
- Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out until it is about 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 4cm/1½in fluted cutter to stamp out the scones. Make sure you don’t twist the cutter or the scones will not rise evenly.
- Gently gather the trimmings together and pat out again to cut more scones
- Arrange the scones on the greased baking trays and brush the tops with the remaining milk.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until well risen and golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- To serve, cut each scone in half and top with strawberry jam and clotted or whipped cream.