Sunday, 6 October 2013

What a Mesh!

Crostata di Sfoglia con Pere & Uva Secca
Lattice-Topped, Pear & Raisin Tart

I was excited about breakfast this morning... a little child about to play with a new toy! Who would think that the 2-3 seconds it took to push this groovy pastry-cutter across the wide expanse of maybe 6" of puff-pastry could be so exciting?!? Oh, ok, I am pulling your legs just a little... but it WAS kinda fun!

I picked this little gadget up last week in Rome... I had seen them before in magazines and of course we are all familiar with this style of pie-crust... but I had never seen one on sale before... so it was inevitable that I just HAD to have it!

But of course, I needed an excuse, a reason to need to cut pastry... which meant of course that I had to make a pie. So I decided to make a simple filling out of pear, cinnamon, coriander and raisins... a great combination at any time!

To make it a speedier preparation, I decided to try out a little experiment. Being as the pears needed to be peeled anyway, once I had removed the peel, I simply continued shaving off slice after slice of very moist, soft and delicious fruit. I did this right down to the core- which was very quick and easy and of course with the pear sliced so thinly, the cooking was also quick and easy too!

I was going to make this little pie in my smallest frying pan again, so as to a.) save time and b.) make sure that the crust was nice and crispy from some advance heat from below and pre-baking on the stove-top. This did mean though that the filling needed to cool off a little before being spooned into the pastry- so the first thing to do of course was to pre-cook the pears.

To do this, I put the pear slices into a frying pan with a tiny splash of water- in this case, for a saucer-sized small pie it took 3 pears. As soon as the water began to boil I added a level teaspoon of cinnamon and a half teaspoon of ground coriander seed- freshly pounded in my little mortar and pestle.

I stirred in the spices and let the pear simmer for 2-3 minutes until it was almost soft, then added the raisins and continued  stirring for another 2-3 minutes. I tasted a slice of pear and found it to be wonderfully aromatic and incredibly sweet! I mean, literally on the verge of being TOO sweet! Which was good, because at this point I added a pinch of salt rather than more sugar! Especially with the raisins added... so here I was- sugar-free and carefree!

Whilst the pie filling was cooling, I got busy with my pastry! A simple circle was all I needed to create the base and I popped that into my little frying pan and then got busy with the fun part.

This alternating pattern of cuts into the pastry, allow for it to open and stretch into  a mesh-like pattern which is fun! All I needed to do was to roll it firmly across the surface of the pastry and voila! I used the same dish I had used to cut out the base of pie to cut out the top, so after using the roller, I proceeded to trim it into a circular shape. I also cut a couple of straight strips of pastry to create a nice rim around the pie- I love doing that as it always makes for a much prettier pie!

So, I carefully spooned the pear filling into the base and even more carefully, lifted the pastry lattice top on top of the pie... a little tricky, but pleasantly easier than I expected! And then the two extra strips went around the outer edge, which served to hide any imperfections... cool!

You know how it works by now- 3-4 minutes on the stove top, then a further 10-15 minutes in a pre heated oven, set at 300°F and a final 2-3 minutes under the broiler... it really was that simple!

The result is a very pretty, if somewhat simple one- but come on... it IS fun! Obviously you might not have a gizmo like this, so a regular crust would do the trick... only I preferred this magic trick with the roller more today!

So whether with or without this slightly extravagant lid, this pie can hardly be beat for speed! And the natural flavors of the fruits with a little cinnamon and coriander were all that it took to make a Sunday morning breakfast so exquisite! Give it a try and then you'll know why! Enjoy!

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