Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Apricot Pie

We have a bumper crop of apricots and are in the enviable position of  what to do with them. It is obligatory that we eat a few each every day and any visitor leaves with a bag, freshly picked. There are lots that have been slowly roasted and frozen, many jars of jam and an apricot crumble or two. However, with so much bounty at my disposal, my mind has turned to apricot pie. The apricot pie of my childhood was a rarity and very special, mostly we had apple pie or blackberry and apple if we had been 'blackberrying'.

I like to make apricot pie with a lattice top so that the apricot filling can be seen and nearly always make it with cream cheese pastry. Cream cheese pastry is very easy to make in a food processor and can be made as a sweet version or savoury by omitting the sugar. For desserts I use a combination of SR flour and plain flour in the pastry dough. The finished pastry remains crisp but has a slightly softer crust. I add a little flour to the apricots as this thickens the juices that are released as the fruit cooks.

Use the leftover pastry to make a few jam tarts or some fancier apricot tartlets. In my memories fruit pies were also linked with jam tarts and interestingly some visitors who arrived as the pies were baking said the same thing, they are of a similar generation. Still warm but not dangerously hot, I think it brought back happy memories for them as well.

Here's How

Make pastry and chill in the fridge. Remove the pastry from the fridge at least thirty minutes before needed to soften and make it easy to roll out.

Rollout pastry on a piece of kitchen parchment. Lightly dampen the bench first to stop the paper sliding around. I like to roll the pastry from the centre out and roll the pastry slightly larger than needed. remember the pastry needs to be the diameter plus the depth of the tin. Use a piece of string and measure down the side, across the bottom and buck up the side

 Use the paper to help move the pastry to the tin, flip it over and then remove the paper.

Adjust pastry to fit tin, gently push the pastry onto the sides of tin making sure that it is flat across the bottom and into the edges. Trim excess pastry or roll across the top with the rolling pin.

Make filling and place in pastry base.

Cut strips of pastry and arrange in a lattice pattern over the pie. Tuck the ends of the lattice down into the pie.

Twist the remaining strips and place around the edge, press it onto the base firmly.

Brush the lattice and edge with milk or egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pie.

Allow pie to cool in tin and then remove to a cooling rack/serving plate.

The Tartlets

Make a filling of 2 tablespoons of almond meal and 1 tablespoon of apricot jam, mix well. This will make six tartlets.

Cut out pastry circles and line greased tart/patty tins with the pastry.

Place a spoondful of the mixture into each tart shell.

Top each of the tartlets with an apricot half. I softened them in the microwave for a minute or two.

Make some with plain apricot jam if you prefer.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 to twenty minutes.

Remove from tin and cool on a cooling rack. Eat warm or cold but not straight from the oven as you run the risk of a burnt mouth.

Dust the apricot tartlets with a little icing sugar.

Apricot Pie
1 qty of Sweet Cream Cheese Pastry

To glaze
A little milk or egg wash
coffee sugar crystals or sugar

600 g prepared apricots (stones removed and thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar

Divide pastry into 2/3 and 1/3. Shape into discs, wrap in clingfilm and chill.

Roll out the large disk and line the pie/loose bottomed flan or quiche tin.

Combine prepared apricots, flour and sugar in a bowl and mix well.
Place apricot filling in the pie base.

Roll out the second disk of pastry, Cut into strips about 1.25 cm wide. Use the strips to create a lattice top for the pie, tuck or push the ends of the strips down into the filling. Use the remaining strips to create a twisted and decorative edge for the pie.  

You could also make a lid for the pie by rolling out the dough, brushing the edge of the base pastry with a little milk and placing the lid on top and crimping the edges together.

Brush pie with a little milk or egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 180 deg C for 20 minutes and then reduce heat to 160 deg cand cook a further 20 to 30 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow the pie to cool for some time.
When cool enough to handle remove the pie from tin and place on a serving plate. It is best left for an hour or two until the filling cools.

Serve the pie at room temperature.

Sweet Cream Cheese Pastry
food processor method

250 g cream cheese
125 g butter
1 cup flour
1 cup SR flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 -2 tablespoons chilled water
Cut butter and cream cheese into small cubes and mix together.

Add flour, sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Pulse until dough just comes together in to a ball/
Knead dough lightly, approximately 8 pushes until smooth ball forms. Do not over knead as this will make the dough tough.

Shape dough into a flat disk about the size of a small plate. Wrap in plastic film. Chill for at least an hour. I usually leave for several hours or overnight.

Roll out to 3 -4 mm thickness. I roll out onto cooking parchment. If you lightly dampen the bench the paper will stick and not slide about as you are rolling out the pastry. Roll from the centre of the pastry to the edges, trying to keep the pastry in a round shape.

Pick the paper up and turn it over as you place the pastry in the greased tin.

Peel paper from the pastry and adjust pastry to fit tin. Trim edges as required.

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