Friday, 19 April 2013
Making Healthier Pastry
First up was a chicken pot pie inspired by Rhonda's Chicken casserole post. Our family LOVES chicken pot pie and I had 2 carcasses on hand to use up from a roast chicken dinner the other day. On went the pressure cooker this morning to create a rich gelatinous broth which formed the base of this meal. To that, I added plenty of veggies and seasoning plus some barley (I usually add diced cooked potatoes, but as we have used the last of our garden potatoes, I substituted barley). Back up to pressure went the cooker and while it cooked for 20 more minutes, I salvaged lots of meat of the cooling chicken bones. Soon, it was ready to be put into the baking dish and topped with pastry.
I follow the pastry recipe from the Tenderflake box because it was the recipe that my Grandma always used. Now that we have leaf lard, I use that exclusively for pastry (in place of Tenderflake lard). I am thrilled with the results! If you look at the picture below, you can see the darker colour of the pastry ~ that's from the sifted wheat flour. It has a lovely (almost) nutty flavour and is very flakey. I bake my pot pies at 425F until the pastry is browned and the filling is bubbling in the centre.
While the oven was on (and because I had leftover pastry), I decided to make use of some freezer burned strawberries. They look pretty miserable don't they? I found some chopped, frozen rhubarb and combined the two to make a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie for the weekend.
Both pies cooked together to make good use of the electricity and pastry... oh boy, did the house ever smell good!
And now for the leftover bits... my Grandma always used to make cinnamon sugar pastry or jam roll ups with her leftover pastry so I've followed suit. Today, it was a little overdone thanks to me vacuuming when it was cooking and not hearing the timer! Doesn't matter, it will be devoured in short order anyway... a little cinnamon, and a sprinkle of organic cane sugar makes for a yummy after school snack with a glass of milk (just like I used to enjoy as a girl).
***** Edited to add recipe for Rose :)
(taken from the box of Tenderflake lard)
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use fresh milled whole wheat that has been sifted but I used to use white all purpose)
2 tsp salt
1 lb cold lard from the fridge (I use leaf lard but used to use Tenderflake)
1 Tbsp vinegar
1) Put flour and salt into a large bowl and mix well. Preheat oven NOW to 425F
2) Add lard that has been cut up into equal"ish" pieces for easier blending.
3) Blend with a pastry blender or "cut" with 2 knives until mixture roughly resembles course crumbs. Don't use your hands or it warms up the dough too much.
4) Crack an egg into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup
5) Add 1 Tbsp vinegar to the egg.
6) Fill cup to the one cup measurement with COLD water (which will include the egg and vinegar)
7) Mix liquid well with a fork until evenly blended.
8) Pour liquid mixture over the flour mixture relatively evenly. I am not too picky about this step I just dump it in all over.
9) With a table FORK, begin to blend it all together until it sticks together to form a ball"ish" shape. You may need to add a little bit more water but do it in small increments so as not to over wet. When it gets close to the ball shape, I abandon the fork and use my hands for the last bit.
10) With your clean hands, gently manipulate the pastry until it is in a loose ball shape. You will need to roll the ball around to get the dry bits off the bottom of the bowl. It's ok if it's not totally blended and smooth. That's good and it's what makes your pastry tender and flaky. It should look really rough and NOT evenly blended. You will see bits of unblended lard and clumps of flour. That's ok! Overworking pastry can cause it to be tough, so err on the side of NOT working it enough.
11) I hear that you're supposed to put the pastry in the fridge before rolling but I'm rarely organized enough for that so I usually just roll it out right away on a floured surface. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the rolling pin to prevent sticking. As you roll it out, it blends further but will still look a little rough.
12) I like to seal the top and bottom of my pies with a tiny bit of milk run around the edge with my fingers. When you crimp the bottom and top pieces together, it will seal nicely.
13) I also cut vents in the top of my pie to let steam out and also it's easy to tell if it's cooked all the way through as the filling will begin to bubble up in the centre.
14) The last step is to brush a little bit of milk gently all over the top of the pie JUST before it goes in the oven. Don't drown it! Then sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top if it is a savoury pie or a little bit of sugar if it is a sweet pie. This step helps with browning and it makes a nice crust.
I bake my pastry at 425F so that it puffs up nicely and cooks all the way through. It should be nice and brownish on top and a bit puffy looking. I really like to use glass pie dishes because I can then see if the bottom is cooked and brownish. If you have a convection oven you can place your pie in the middle of the middle rack, but if you have a NON convection oven, you should put your pie on a rack a little closer to the bottom of the oven so that the bottom crust cooks properly.
You can tell if a pie is done when the vents start to show bubbly filling :) Also, keep a close eye on the top of your pie. If it's starting to over brown, place a sheet of foil loosely on top of the pie to reflect some heat. Continue cooking until the filling bubbles in the centre.
Pies should rest before you serve them to partially cool and set up. Let savoury ones sit for about 10 minutes and sweet ones should sit for longer (an hour or more). Do not cover cooling pies or the crust will get soggy from the steam.
Hope this works for you :) YOU CAN MAKE PASTRY! Go, Rose!