Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Plum & Spice to the Power of Pie

Crostata di Prugne & Zenzero, Speziata, in Padella
Plum, Ginger & Spice Pie-in-a Pan

It looks amazing... it tastes amazing... in fact it IS amazing! But the most amazing thing of all about this beautiful little pie is that it was amazingly simple to make! Looking at it, no one would believe how little work went into it- and you know you want to make stuff like this to wow your friends with... I KNOW you know it!

Which is why I am here to share with you :-) You see- I'm a nice guy in that respect! I am all for saving time, sharing happiness and having fun eating yummy food! What could be better than a pie of 4 portions, made of little more than 8 fresh plums, a slice of candied ginger and a few wonderful spices? Not much! It's all good stuff and it's all written up, right here!

The first thing you need to do, is to halve the plums and remove the stones, then cut each half into 3 slices... that is the perfect size for the plums to cook quickly and to eat easily. Pop the plum slices into your frying pan with just a small pat of butter and start them frying on a moderate heat and in the meantime, get ready to grind up some spices!

With a mortar and pestle, or an electrical thingammyjig if you prefer, grind up the seeds from 2 cardamom pods, 2 points from a star anise and a half teaspoon of coriander seeds. Either add a small piece of cinnamon and grind this with the other spices, or add a teaspoon to the other spices... which can now be added to the plums.

Stir the spices in well, add a pinch of salt and sweeten to taste using Stevia, Sugar or Honey and allow to bubble away gently for just 2-3 minutes... you don't want them to get too soft! Now add a nice large-sized slice (or 2 smaller ones, haha!) of candied ginger, cut into very fine shreds. Stir these in and then set the plums to one side to cool off. And isn't it just wonderful what a beautiful deep red the yellow plums become as they cook? Beautiful!

Whilst the plums are cooling, cut a circle from your puff pastry to use as the base and lay this into a non-stick pan... with no added fat, thank you! There is way more than enough butter in that puff pastry to make it delicious... and also slippery enough to slide right out of that pan!

Cut the remaining pastry into strips of 1" or so and roll these very loosely into little spirals to use for the topping- I don't like to waste anything- and neither should you!

Once the plums cool off, their natural pectin will thicken the juices nicely into a rich syrup- simply gorgeous! Now, gently pour the plum mixture onto the pie base and then lay out the little spirals of pasty evenly on top and pop your frying pan onto the stove top at a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to get the base going in advance... you know my methods by now!

After 2-3 minutes, pop the pan into a pre-heated oven at 300°F for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is lovely and golden brown and the spirals of pastry set on top are puffed-up and wonderful! Give them a 1 minute blast under the broiler if you want a little extra color, but then remove from the oven and allow to cool off... for as long as you can resist temptation!

I kept things simple and enjoyed mine as it was... but a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a little fresh whipped cream or even a little yogurt or ricotta would also have been nice additions. Next time maybe! This evening is was a light dusting of powdered sugar... and that was all that it need to be honest!

Give it a go and you will love how easy it is to make, almost as much as you will love the flavor... although all of those yummy freshly ground spices and the fresh and juicy fruits make it an act that is pretty hard to follow! So get rolling that pastry, get baking that pie and start enjoying yourselves!

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