Category Archives: The Cookery Year

Custard Sauce

Another part of Christmas dinner, I volunteered to make this  reasoning that being very proficient in cheese sauce and having had one successful attempt at crème pâtissière, I wouldn’t disgrace myself or annoy other people. I consulted the oracle (emailed my mother) and received this reply:

Are you making ‘proper’ eggy custard or just Bird’s outa the
packet?  Only two things to remember – eggy, don’t boil or it’ll curdle;
powder, boil or it’ll not thicken well (both – stir like mad!).

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Crème pâtissière

So, belatedly (in every way), this was my last effort for pie month. A birthday pie (6 months after the date), consisting of a tart paste case, filled with crème pastissiere and topped with raspberry sauce and whole raspberries and loganberries.  In order to increase the likelihood of a good result, I turned to The Reader’s Digest Cookery Year (1976)  and the method  included as part of the recipe for Quiche Reine-Claude, a flan case filled with crème patissiere and topped with sliced greengages, a recipe from the September  chapter by Elizabeth Pomeroy (which I will definitely attempt in the appropriate season).  There is a second  recipe for crème patissiere later in the book, which uses cornflour and no vanilla, but I didn’t see this until later and anyway, no vanilla?!

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Enriched Shortcrust Pastry

Last year for Pie Month, I made some mini pecan pies. I didn’t blog them because although I started with an Ann Seranne recipe, when it became apparent that they would be too sweet even for me, I deviated from the instructions.  While they were well-received, I wasn’t completely happy with the pastry – it seemed to me to be a bit dry, bland and pale. So this year, when I decided to make chocolate-praline tartlets, I also thought I might experiment with an enriched short crust, using The Reader’s Digest Cookery Year, as the most reliable source I have for such things.
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Common Faults in Pastry Making

Stop pie faults before they start! Evaluate past errors, learn and progress! Seek guidance here for perfect pastry!

– Hard and/ or tough pastry

Due to too much liquid, too little fat, over-handling or insufficient rubbing in.

– Soft and crumbly pastry
Too little water; too much fat or self-raising flour used instead or plain

– Shrunk pastry
Excess stretching during rolling out

– Soggy pastry
Filling too moist or sugar in a sweet pie in contact with pastry. For a double crust pie, use ideally a metal pie plate and either brush pastry base with egg white or butter the pie plate before lining with pastry.

– Sunken Pie
Oven temperature too low; cold pastry put over hot filling; too much liquid in filling or too little filling.

– Speckled pastry
Undissolved sugar grains in enriched pastry crust

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Wholemeal scones

Yet another recipe I’m attempting because one of the key ingredients is something I have in the cupboard with ‘best before 2 months ago’ printed on the top of the pack, and further, as regular readers will know I love scones. (From The Reader’s Digest Cookery Year (1976), Basic Cooking Methods – Buns and Scones by Margaret Coombes and Suzanne Wakelin of the Good Housekeeping Institute.)
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Cheese Scones

Despite warnings that it was not very good, I decided to give the BBC’s new series, The Great British Bake-Off a try and reader, my nearest and dearest (and The Telegraph telly reviewer) weren’t lying.  While as a baking nerd, I wouldn’t expect lots of new (to me) information, none of the food historians featured seemed to be able to let their enthusiasm for their subject show, while the human drama of the contest was equally unsatisfyingly represented. (I felt the camera didn’t need to linger quite so long on the sobbing bus driver whose marmalade tea loaf sank in the middle.) I would also have liked to hear more technical stuff from Mary Berry – cooking is an art, baking is a science, as we all know. (‘We’, being those of us who have made something once perfectly, only to have a subsequent attempt collapse in a sticky mess.)

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Chicken and Leek Pie

This is the first in a series of 4 –  February is Pie Month! I am going to cook a pie a week and have invited friends over each week to help me eat them. This week, a classic chicken and leek, called for some reason, leek and chicken. (From Reader’s Digest Cookery Year (1976), from the March chapter by Katie Stewart.)
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