This is a vintage cookbook trial, error and rescue mission. After deciding to make rhubarb tart, I wondered if there was a suitable pastry recipe in the same book. I saw one which included rice flour, of which I’ve had a bag lying around for ages, being only a sporadic shortbread maker. I’ve already had a successful attempts at plain and enriched shortcrusts, tart paste and cream crust, and was optimistic about trying a new method:
Rice paste for sweets
A New System of Domestic Cookery by Mrs Rundell (first published 1806, reprinted by Persephone Books 2009)
Boil a quarter of a pound of ground rice in the smallest amount of water; strain from it all moisture as well as you can; beat it in the mortar with half an ounce of butter, and one egg well beaten, and it will make an excellent paste for tarts, &c.
Initially I added about 50mls water to the rice flour, but the dough seemed thick, dry, grainy and smelt like dust. I added some more water and then some more, until I had a smooth, heavy, white dough. No straining necessary. Then I put it in a bowl with an ounce of butter and started beating. Then I realised I should have added only half an ounce of butter. Then I decided to get back on track with the recipe by adding the egg. By this time, I had a slightly something akin to smooth porridge, so I decided to add some more ground rice. At which point the smell of uncooked rice reappeared.
I decided the best course of action was to add another egg, a big handful of parmesan, spread the whole lot into a baking tray and cook it until it was set.
After about 30 minutes in a moderate oven, it was almost identical to polenta (or mamaliga) in texture, although rather bland.
I ended up with three portions, I ate two with tomato and olive sauce, reheating it in the sauce. The final one I the way I often eat gnocchi – with mixed salad (spinach, rocket and water cress) and parmesan. The ‘pasta’ was steamed briefly to reheat and then flung in and out of a pan with some hot olive oil, along with some capers.
(I have recently discovered fried capers after reading this, I have a feeling they are a secret which vegans have been hoarding and this is how they cope in a world with no cheese or bacon.)
I wouldn’t repeat this – too much effort for the outcome, but I was happy to end up with something very tasty. The more I cook, the more I think the value of improving at it, is not the ability to whip up quenelles de brochet without breaking a sweat, but to save wrecks.
Pasted by Elly
This is the final post of Pie Month 2012 – we hope you have enjoyed it. There are still varieties of pastry as yet untested by us and unimaginable fillings waiting to be assembled, so we will do this all again next year (and probably sneak in a couple before then too).
If you’re feeling cheated that this post contains no actual pie, have a look at some fantastic posts which we have enjoyed this month:
Aubergine and feta tarts from Eat Now, Talk Later
Chocolate and raspberry brownie tart from Alternative Eating
Grape pie from Bite from the Past
Rhubarb and custard tarts from North/South Food
And something to do with any spare puff pastry, pinwheels from Edible Substance