Technical Challenges: Pies & Tarts Week

I’ve been looking forward to this week! As I mentioned earlier this week, pastry is my thing. It’s something I can do very well – the French in me seems to revel at the opportunity to make it! 🙂

Pear PiesAs a result, I felt very comfortable making the puff pastry for the challenge this week, but watching the contestants on Bake Off struggle with assembling the pear pies made me a little apprehensive about that part.

Turns out, I was right to be. The assembly was very difficult, and took a few attempts! Fortunately, I had made a little extra rough puff pastry, so was able to start again.

So, here is the result of week 5 of the technical challenges:

Paul Hollywood's Mini Pear PiesYou can find the recipe here.

The rough puff pastry was very easy to assemble and prepare, as I have made it successfully before, and I am very happy with how it turned out. (I didn’t bother with lard but made it all butter, as I find lard pretty repulsive!)

The pears were perfectly poached when we tasted them, but I have to say, because they were already a little soft when I started poaching, if I hadn’t had all of the instructions, I probably would have taken them out about 5 mins before the time suggested, and so may well have ended up with slightly under-poached pears without that help.

The syrup went a little wrong, but I just about managed to save it in the end. I left it to boil the minimum 10 mins that the recipe suggests, but by then it had reduced substantially, and when I took it off the boil it started to harden and couldn’t be used to brush the pears or pour over them when done. As a result, the wrapping of the puff pastry was proving impossible – so I added some water and brought the syrup back up to the boil and stirred for a few mins, and fortunately it worked! I then tried to continue with wrapping the pears, but hadn’t waited for the syrup to cool enough so the pastry was melting together into a clump as I tried to wrap it.

Pear Pies1So I took the pastry off and started again once the syrup was properly cool, and it worked much better. It was still very very fiddly, but I found if I held the pastry strips still and turned the pear, instead of the other way round, it was a bit easier. I managed to get them looking good, but unfortunately the pastry shrunk a little and left a couple of gaps once it was baked.

I did put the pears, wrapped in their pastry, in the fridge for 10 mins before baking them to help the pastry stay on the pears, and it seemed to help a little.

Pear Pies2I think next time I may overlap the pastry strips a little when putting them on the pears, so that if it shrinks a little in the oven, there still won’t be gaps!

Otherwise, I was very happy with these – they don’t look amazing, but they certainly tasted it! As my husband described them: “this is the best dessert you’ve ever made.” High praise, I felt! 🙂

And if, like me, you have some puff pastry left over? Why not roll it out into a rectangle, brush with melted butter, dust with caster sugar and cinnamon, and roll the two ends inwards to meet in the middle, then cut into slices and lay flat on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 mins. Et voila, you have the yummy French biscuit: palmiers.



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