Sunday, 8 April 2012

A Banoffee Moment

In my lovely, food stained, handwritten recipe book, I have a number fail-safe recipes for kitchen basics that I turn to again and again.  This is the case for sweet shortcrust pastry.  I think that it may have originally been a Donna Hay recipe but over the past couple of years, I have tweaked it so that it works just so in my kitchen.  This recipe is just so versatile and easy.  Whip it up in the food processor, bake and then fill with whatever takes you fancy.  It has that perfect buttery bite that you look for in a good shortcrust so I urge you to tuck this little number into your kitchen tool box because there are a few sneaky tips hidden in this recipe.
When looking for a dessert a couple of nights ago, I needed only look as far as the front of my pantry for inspiration: beautiful ripe bananas and sweetened condensed milk.  I very rarely make Banoffee Pie because my best friend, Nicky does such a fantastic rendition of it.  However, I just couldn't go pass it in this instance.  While my pastry was baking in the oven, I whipped up a basic caramel with condensed milk, butter and brown sugar.  As soon as the pastry came out of the oven, I poured in the thick, warm caramel and left to cool completely before putting in the fridge to chill down.  Just before you are ready to serve, whip some cream, fold in some chopped bananas and top with grated chocolate.  Ah-mazing!

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process in short bursts until mixture has a fine crumb consistency.  Add egg and process again, in short bursts until mixture starts to come together - it will still seem quite crumbly.  Turn the mixture onto a floured work surface and press dough together.  If you are making one large tart, bring dough together into a large, thick disc.  If you are making a number of smaller tarts, divide mixture into 2 smaller discs.  Either way, wrap pastry in glad wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Roll out dough on a sheet of glad wrap or baking paper (this stops it sticking to your surface), ease into the corners of your buttered dish and trim edges.  I now put the pastry (in the dish/es) into the freezer for 20 minutes.  This removes the need to blind bake with pie weights.  The pastry doesn't puff up when you cook it from frozen - so much easier!  From the freezer, put the pastry straight into a 180 degree oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  You will notice that the pastry has 'dried out' and started to brown slightly.  Perfection!

As much as it always seems easier to buy a pre-made pastry case, you will no longer wish to take this option once you make your own.  It is infinitely better and so much more satisfying! You can make pastry that tastes and looks better than the frozen option.  Now, don't just take my word for it...give it a go!

F. xx

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