25 September 2013

Preparations for the new kitchen

The time has finally arrived when I'm getting my kitchen thoroughly refurbished with new doors for the cupboards and brand new oven and hob.

This meant moving everything out of course, but before that, I needed to make sure we have enough frozen food to microwave during the week I'm out of cooking action.

IMG_3167 - Cropped

And as the Autumn has arrived, I thought I'd make a new pie and from my Hairy Bikers' Perfect Pies book. Thus from the chapter for handheld pies I selected the meat and vegetable pasties. Despite my questionable crimping during my previous attempt, the overall result was most tasty.

Comparing the Hairy Bikers' recipe to Paul Hollywood, the filling is pretty much the same, but the pastry is different. And reading through the old post, I decided to add some herbs as well this time.

Makes 6 - 7
300 g peeled and diced potatoes (about 2 large ones)
125 g peeled and diced swede
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
300 g beef frying steak, trimmed and diced
salt and pepper 5 - 6 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped

450 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
175 g cold butter
2 egg yolks
125 ml cold water
1 egg for glazing


  1. Dice the meat and vegetables to 1 cm cubes. Keep the meat separate. Season the meat with salt and pepper and stir through. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, add the herbs and stir through. Set aside and make the pastry.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C. Line a couple of baking tins with baking paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder, then dice the butter and add to the mixture, pinching together lightly until crumbles form.
  4. Stir in the two egg yolks and some cold water to make the mixture come together into a dough.
  5. Dust the worktop with flour and roll out the dough to about 3 - 5 mm thickness. Cut out circle of about 18 - 20 cm diameter, e. g. using a bowl or side plate.
  6. Whisk the glazing egg with a pinch of salt to an egg wash.
  7. If the vegetables have released some liquid, drain it off, then place some in the middle of each circle and add some of the meat on top.
  8. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash, then carefully fold together over the filling and press/crimp to seal. Place on a baking tin and brush with more egg wash.
  9. Repeat until the dough and/or filling runs out.
  10. Bake the pasties for about 45 minutes, one baking sheet at a time (unless using a fan assisted oven). The waiting baking sheet should be put in the fridge.
  11. When ready, remove from the oven and serve immediately or allow to cool on a wire rack before refrigerating or freezing.


Writing up this recipe, I notice that I forgot to add some flour to the filling to soak up excess liquid, though seasoning the veg and letting it stand for a bit, then draining it off helped to keep things relatively dry.

Unfortunately my beautiful crimping didn't work out this time either and disappeared during baking and most of the pasties also split here and there.

What was a bit annoying was that the amounts of dough and filling didn't match up - I had filling left over, enough for two more pasties. The dough circle size was states as 15 cm diameter, which resulted in 9 pasties. Perhaps cutting slightly larger circles would make things add up, I don't know. I've frozen the remaining filling and will hopefully be able to make a further pasty or two when I have dough left over.

As the pasties were for when the kitchen would be out of action, I let them all cool completely and then froze them. This morning I took out 3 of the pasties and let them thaw in room temperature, then microwaved for our dinner. The pasties were quite nice, even if the pastry had gone soft, but I knew that already. What I should have done is used more of the herbs, they were barely noticeable.

24 September 2013

Napoleon Hats

After a longish break to have a holiday and get together with the family to celebrate Lundulph's birthday, I decided it was time to pick a new recipe from my Swedish book "277 types of cakes". Besides, Lundulph and I recently cleared out the last of the white chocolate and cherry scones from the freezer. So I opted for a Scandinavian cake called Napoleon Hats. According to the book these are "really easy and quick to make".


Makes about 25

half a batch of 1 - 2 - 3 pastry (link)
1 lemon
30 g egg white (from one large egg, save a couple of teaspoons)
500 g marzipan of the type 50-50 (50% almonds and 50% sugar)
1 egg yolk (from above)
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
25 g chopped pistachio nuts
100 g apricot glaze
200 g dark chocolate, 65% cocoa solids 100 g royal icing
2 - 3 drops of red food colouring


  1. Make the 1 - 2 - 3 pastry and make sure it rests in the fridge for at least 1 h.
  2. Wash the lemon and grate the zest.
  3. Mix together the zest with the egg white and the marzipan well, then divide up into pieces of 20 g each.
  4. Using a little flour on your hands, roll each marzipan piece to a ball.
  5. Whisk together the remaining egg yolk, the whole egg and the pinch of salt to an egg wash and set aside.
  6. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out a piece of the pastry to 3 mm thickness, making sure it hasn't stuck to the worktop.
  7. Cut out circles of about 85 mm diameters and brush each with egg wash.
  8. Place a marzipan ball in the middle of each pastry circle,


    then fold up the pastry around the marzipan from three sides and squeeze together into a triangular "hat".

  9. Place the hats on a baking tray lined with baking paper, allowing a few cm of space between each.
  10. Put the whole tray in the fridge, while making the remaining hats.
  11. Once all hats are ready, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Chop the pistachios and place the apricot glaze in a saucepan.
  12. Bake each tray for 15 minutes. When the baking time is almost out, heat up the apricot glaze so it is runny and bubbly.
  13. Remove the ready baked tray and immediately brush the top of each hat with the apricot glaze and sprinkle a few pistachios.
  14. Move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  15. When all the hats have cooled, melt and temper the chocolate in a flat dish.
  16. Dip the bottom of each hat in the chocolate, remove the excess, then place on a piece of baking paper to set.
  17. In the mean time, make royal icing with the saved couple of teaspoons of egg white and colour it with red food colouring. It should be thick enough to pipe and keep its shape.
  18. Once the cakes have set, pipe a small blob on top of each.
  19. The cakes are best eaten on the day, but should be good for a further couple of days. They can be frozen, but should be allowed to thaw in room temperature, not microwave.


Well, the "quick and easy" part turned out to be a load of rubbish, I made the 1 - 2 - 3 pastry the evening before and unfortunately it was rather sticky this time. I hoped a hight in the fridge would sort it out, but sadly no. I think the butter I used was too warm, since I'd had it in the kitchen the whole day while baking other things. The kitchen had reached tropical temperatures and the butter was on the verge of going liquid.

I also didn't use enough flour in the first lump I rolled out, so it took forever to get the circles off the table. The book also implied that I needed a whole batch of pastry, but I had half of it left over, so I've frozen it. A bit annoying that it was so sticky.

Even after I generously doused half the kitchen with flour, the whole thing was still fiddly. I spent most of the day baking these. I also don't think I managed to temper the chocolate. I followed my notes from my chocolate course, yet it didn't seem to work out, however, I don't think it matters much in this case.


When I was ready, Lundulph was having his afternoon tea, so I gave him one to try. He said he liked it, but I got a feeling he wasn't entirely convinced. He said he had no reference point to compare to. So although I didn't really feel like eating sweet at the time, I decided to try one anyway to be on the safe side. All I can say is, that's what happiness tastes like.