Thursday, 2 February 2012

Problem pastry - a epic tale

I baked for Private Pie last night, a jolly gathering meeting pie lovers and enjoying a drink or two over a pie (of the sweet and savory variety). It was a lovely event & fantastic venue (the cinema room in The Town Wall pub). The blog about the actual event is to follow, but my road to private pie was fraught with episodes I'd much rather forget.  
The short version is here:
Baked pie, took pie, ate pie.
For the long version, full of emotion, feeling and rollercoaster ride of triumph overcoming absurdity (and adversity) - read on...

The theme for this meet up was Pies of the World, so I chose Mississippi Mud Pie.
According to many a pie-pedant it's not technically a pie, it's a flan/tart.
Before Private Pie I would have wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment, but I have actually wanted to make a Mississippi Mud Pie for a long time.  If I baked it at home i'd be the only person eating it and Private Pie is about sharing your pie amongst friends. So I let my pie rule my head in this instance.
Here's my story...Many moons ago I worked at Lewis & Cooper, a grocery, wine, meat, glass & China specialist in Northallerton.  I had an after school/evening job there, mainly cashing up tills but during the holidays I worked in their Pattiserie counter, making & selling sandwiches, fresh cream sweets, tray 'bake' biscuits and serving slices of bought-in cakes and gateaux. My favourites were: Death by Chocolate, Pecan Pie and Mississippi Mud Pie.

And from this love of serving it (& buying a big fat slice or two) I found a recipe and made Mississippi Mud Pie at home. But that was then and I didn't have a recipe, the only thing I remember about the recipe was the addition of 'Camp Coffee Essence' so when I decided to make it for Private Pie I was very particular about finding a recipe with coffee essence.

You'd think it'd be easy 'let me Google that for you' but most recipes had a chilled base (crushed biscuits) and chilled filling. The one I wanted had a proper pastry case and cooked filling.
I found about 3 recipe combinations and decided to mix things up. Adding extra chocolate, vanilla and coffee essence.  To be perfectly fair the filling was pretty spectacular it looked like mud and had a rich caramel coffee chocolate taste to it (this is uncooked mind you, quite dangerous for the very young, very old and pregnant folks). But this was the least of my woes, I had to make a pastry cake....and that's when the trouble started.

Chocolate pastry, easy. Blind baked pastry. Not so easy.

I don't have baking beans so I used mung beans (bigger than rice/lentils) on greaseproof paper.
I thought that would be fine. But the sides shriveled away, the base grew a big bubble and when I went to tip the beans out the pastry almost slid out of the dish, baking and cracking in the process. To be honest it looked ugly and I wasn't happy.

Cue epic ranting, you may wish to ignore this bit....
I sank to the ground in a folly of despair and heavy hearted depression, wringing my hands and calling to the pie gods, pastry gods and oven gods "why, oh why?" And I sank to the door of the oven as if to expect the answer to be revealed through the glass door of wonder and thermal insulation technology magicness.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I spent a few minutes swearing and cursing but decided to just finish it off, cook it and keep everything crossed.  Fortunately the raw filling was a supreme success, I could happily drink that from a glass: 350g sugar, 200g chocolate, cream, eggs, vanilla, coffee essence, butter & cocoa powder.

It cooked, it was 'gently' set and it accompanied me to private pie, and there were no leftovers, shall I say that again. No leftovers. Worked for me!


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