Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Not-So-Cornish Pasties (À La France!)

Hello one and all of my lovely readers, I'm back with a vengeance! Back with some pasty power! I'll have you know that these were my first attemt at pasties, so don't laugh if they think they're funny looking! I love a good pasty, they're a classic. You can have them on the go, of you can have them at home. I see pasties as a sort-of cold weather food to warm you up, so with the cold weather swooping in this September I thought it'd be nice to give them a try. I took the pastry recipe from my Great British Book of Baking, but the filling is entirely my own recipe, à la france meaning French inspired, of course! If you aren't a fan of strong camembert, or want something stronger, the cheese can be substituted for any French cheese (Roquefort, Brie, or Chèvre to name a few). But yes, the filling is basically cheese, red onion, and bacon. 

For the Pastry (this pastry will yield 4 small Pasties, you can double it and make 8 small or 6 larger)

  • 225g/8oz Strong white bread flour
  • sprinkling of salt
  • 50g/7.6oz Butter (chilled in the freezer but NOT FROZEN!)
  • 50g/7.6oz Lard (you have to, otherwise the pastry won't be so tasty!) (chilled in the freezer and once again, not frozen!)
  • 100ml/3.3(USA)fl oz Ice cold water
For the filling (double this for 8 or 6 pasties, this yields 4)
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced
  • 100g (about 4 rashers) of unsmoked streaky bacon
  • 100g Camembert de Normandie (or any other french cheese that you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Beaten egg to glaze
  • butter knife
  • One or two baking trays depending on how many you're making
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Sieve
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Cheese grater
  • Little jug
  • Large airtight container or cling film
  • sharp knive or scissors to cut your bacon
  • fork
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush
Method (the pastry's ever so quick and easy!):
First, preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. You should make the pastry first to give it time to cool in the fridge while you prepare the filling, plus, it's the most fun part! Sieve your flour and salt into a big mixing bowl ready for your fat and water, then you need to grate your chilled fats into the flour. If you find that a little difficult like I did (because my bowl has high sides and I'm rather short, so I was lifting my arms up more to grate, and you know, I'm lazy!), then not to worry, just grate it into a seperate small bowl and transfer it afterwards. When you've grated it all in, get your butter knife and stir it in with that (or if you've got one, wack it in your mixer with the folding attachment and churn on a low speed) until it becomes sort of a rough, breadcrumby mixture that's a bit fluffy. Now for the next bit I find it vastly easier to just pour the icy water in really slowly while my mixer is going, but for all who haven't been blessed by the KitchenAid gods you can use your (clean) hands (you get a better feel for the pastry anyway, I always take my pastry out the mixer afterwards to feel it up, ha!). Pour your water in slowly with your less dominant hand and use your "power hand" as your mixer and squeeze the water through the fat and flour with your fingers, but don't handle it too much as you don't want to warm it up and make it go sticky. You're going for a soft dough that isn't at all sticky, or maybe a tiny tiny bit sticky, so pour your water in until you achieve this consistency. Although the 100ml is the perfect amount for me, flour can differ and you may need more or less so adjust accordingly! When you've finished the pastry, wrap it up in some cling film, or pop it in an airtight container, and let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour while you prepare the fillings. 

The filling is quite easy to prepare, just cut up your bacon into squares about the size of a 2p coin, (or a quarter, you americans!) and then dice your onions and add it to the same bowl as your camembert. Mix the onions and camembert up with a fork until the cheese melts and you have a cheesy oniony paste, then divide your ingredients into four equal portions ready for your pasties. The time you took to do that should have been enough to chill your pastry thoroughly (unless you're a faster worker than I am). When you take it out, be careful not to handle it a lot or else it'll be difficult to roll and assemble the pasties. Roll it into a sausage and cut it equally into 4 sections, then sprinkle your surface with flour and get rolling. If you form your sausage section into a little ball it'll be easier to roll a circle, but it doesn't have to be perfect so don't worry yourself if it's a bit lop-sided! Once you're all rolled out, add your cheese and onion mixture to one side of the circle but keep it at least an inch away from the edge, season it with sea salt and white pepper, and then lay the bacon squares on top. Before you fold over, you'll need to bush a bit of your beaten egg on your cheese and bacon side but not a lot as you don't want it to get gooey. Now, carefully fold the other side of the pastry over the filling and press around the edges firmly so you feel the stick happening, then start at one side of the pasty and fold the ends over and over on itself to create a rope pattern (this is how we make sure the filling doesn't escape). When you get to the end tuck it under the pasty. It seems technical but it's quite easy and once you get the rhythm of it you can work quite quickly! Lay your pasties on the baking sheet and brush them lightly with your egg wash and then pierce them with a knife to make two small holes on each of them for the steam to escape.

I've always thought they look a little like crabs for some reason?
Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes. For the first 10 minutes bake them at 220C/425/Gas7 and then drop the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas4 and continue to bake for the last 10 minutes or until golden brown (all ovens are different, so adjust the time accordingly!)

When you take them out they'll be hot hot hot so be careful! You may want to let them cool for five minutes before serving just in case, you don't want to burn your tongue! 

Since it's cheese, they may leak just a little bit but don't worry! They'll still be delicious! ;)

Yum yum! I hope you find them to be tasty, you may even want more than one!

x x x

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