Yesterday I made a berry crumble for dessert after Sunday Lunch. I will be the first to tell you that I hate cooking...at least the variety of cooking that has to magically materialize at 6pm when I would rather get a poke in the eye with a stick than waste time (that could be far better served knitting/ crocheting) in front of the stove...yes, such are my culinary leanings...however, when it comes to baking, I am a far happier camper. That being said, my philosophy about cooking and food generally can be summed up as follows: "If it takes more than 10 minutes of my time/hands to make, then it's not worth eating...".
So, over the years of enforced servitude in front of the stove, I have developed super-fast recipes and food shortcuts that allow me to whip something up that is great tasting but brain donor easy!
This fruit pie/crumble is one of those things :)
Pie pastry is essentially a mixture of butter (fat) and flour, a little sugar, salt and a binder like an egg. Now, if you are so inclined you could add all kinds of stuff, like choc chips etc, but for me, the fastest is bestest! Generally you need to use about double the weight of flour to fat (note: weight, not volume!), and I happened to use Self Raising flour, but really, if you have ordinary cake flour, that's fine...just add some baking powder.
I have a round pie dish that is about 30cm in diameter, and needed the following rough quantities to make the pie pastry:
+/- 2 1/2 cups of flour
+/- 200g butter
1/2 - 1/3 of a cup of sugar ( I used brown sugar because it was closest to hand, but you can use castor or white sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 large egg
Fruit Mix for the filling (I used a frozen berry mix that I bought from a berry supply wholesaler nearby, but really, you could use pretty much any fruit, fresh or canned as well...)
It's easier to work with the butter if it was refrigerated...
I mix the pastry in my Kenwood mixer using the whisking attachment.
1. Place flour, sugar and salt in mixer bowl.
2. Start mixer on medium speed, slowly adding little cut up blocks of cold butter.
3. Add your beating egg slowly...a crumbly pastry dough should start forming...
4. Allow the mixture to form a crumbly fine dough (you can get an idea of the texture above...I literally just took the loose pastry dough out of the mixer and sprinkled it on top of the berry mix...). The dough should be loose and crumbly, but if you squeeze it together, it should hold its shape without being sticky).
5. If you find that the dough is too loose and doesn't have some sticking power, you can add a teaspoon of cold water...just add a tiny bit at a time or you'll get a sloppy dough.
6. When it all looks good, spray your pie dish with some non-stick spray, and scoop some dough mixture into it and flatten with your fingers until the dish is lined with pastry.
7. Pour in your fruit mix.
8. Crumble some more of the dough over the top of the fruit filling...this is not meant to look pretty...just make sure it is sort of evenly spread.
9. Bake in oven at 180 degrees Celsius until the top is brown and golden.
10. Serve with custard or cream...
...easy peasy pie! It sounds far more complicated than it is...the whole thing took about 6 minutes to make...the rest of the time is just baking in the oven :)
I know that there are a gazillion people who will insist that the dough has to be refrigerated for 20 minutes in clingwrap etc etc ...honestly it's too much time and schlepp and it works FINE if you don't! Life is far too short to wait for stuff to get cold!
Try it...let me know how your pie making went :)
My dear and precious husband was in England for a conference at the beginning of December and sweet cherub that he is, went to a yarn shop and bought me some yarn! Now, until recently, the said cherub, still referred to my knitting as "sewing" ...proudly telling people that I am "...really good at sewing..."...so you'll understand that he has no concept about what yarns are and which brands / blends are desirable, never mind color and quantity ...
He has, in the past, heard the word " Rowan" bandied about, so I suspect that when he saw the name on a couple of balls of yarn, he was desperately pleased to have found something recognizable! He brought home a variety of Rowan Yarns that I haven't used before at all. I am the first to tell you that I LOVE Rowan's Milk Cotton, Handknit Cotton and Kidsilk Haze, so I was very curious to see if I liked the following lots...
First Up... Amy Butler's Organic Aran.
I was especially excited as I love all things Amy Butler and the fact that this is an organic yarn, so much the better. I had looked at the wonderful colours on-line, and liked the fact that it is an aran weight, so it would be perfect for big projects like a blanket. It's 50% cotton, 50% wool blend, and you get around 90m in a 50g ball.
Very nice to work with...not as smooth a yarn as the handknit cotton, but not as splitty as the Milk Cotton. I have been using sock weight yarn for such a long time, that I had forgotten how thick aran weight is! It works up very nicely and quickly, and I would buy it again if the opportunity arose...
Kaffe Fasset Kidsilk Haze
This is yarn Nirvana! I mean, Kidsilk Haze people! Is there really anything more you need to say? Add in the fabulous colours in this ball (Note the singular: hubby brought back countless balls of muddy purple All Season's Cotton and *#@!!& only ONE BALL of this yummy stuff!) It is just the most beautiful stuff to knit with and although , like dynamite, it comes in very small balls, there is actually enough to knit a good size project with... DEFINITELY a Keeper!!!!
Rowan All Season's Cotton
Ok...over-sharing time... " Hi, my name is Heidi, and I am a Yarn Snob...it has been 10 years since my last acrylic purchase..."...
Jokes aside...I cannot abide the stuff! I hate that grandma's knitted scratchy jerseys from the stuff in a variety of scary plastic colors , that you were forced to wear to keep the family peace...
Acrylic and me do not play nice! But, I suppose (in defence of the poor grandma's), we have only fairly recently had access to the wonderful new yarns, with the internet and all...so it was with a fair amount of nose-in-the-air that I tried this yarn. It is a blend of 60% cotton and 40% acrylic...again, an aran weight with 90m per 50g.
Ok, I will admit (begrudgingly...)that it is not scratchy. It does however have a supertwisty kind of texture to it, that I am in mortal fear, will pill something crazy when washed over time... I don't think that I will knit anything with this, so I wouldn't know about the pilling...have you used it? Does it pill? The two colours that I have are a burgundyish color and a muddy purple (Arrrggghhhhhh...why would you release a color like that???)...
NOT FOR ME...
Lastly...Colourscape Chunky by Kaffe Fassett. I was quite surprised by this yarn, because anything Kaffe does is generally awesome!
This yarn is beautifully coloured, but like the dreaded Noro Kureyon, seems to be a spun single-ply yarn, with a fuzzy feel. It is 100% lambswool....so I suspect it will felt (there is a huge set of multi-language instructions on the ball band, telling you to hand wash, do not tumble dry etc). It may be ok for felting, but I didn't get palpitations with excitement and anticipation when I thought about what to knit with it...
Verdict: Lovely colours...Nice for felting (I guess I should try make a felted item with it...), but I wouldn't buy it if I could...
Well...that's the story of the yarn, as they say! I need to go and evict more bolted lettuce from my garden (remember what I said...plant less lettuce!)...
Have a good day folks!