I was sent a copy of Pie by Dean Brettschneider to review. I jumped at the chance as I rarely make pies or pastries so I thought it would be a good chance to try something different. I chose to make rosemary and nutmeg custard tarts partly because I was inspired by this year's Great British Bake Off where one of the technical challenges was to bake custard tarts. I was also intrigued by the flavour combination.
My first batch didn't work as I decided to make mini tarts and there was barely any space for the custard filling. I ended up with burnt custard and uncooked pastry. I started again and as I didn't have any tart tins, I used a muffin tin hence the rustic look.
The pastry was really quick and easy to make and tasted light and buttery. The filling was full of flavour and you can definitely taste the rosemary and nutmeg. All in all, a great recipe and one that I will definitely use again but with proper tart tins next time.
The book is a lovely hardback with 219 pages in total. The font size is reasonable and it's very easy to read. The lay out is generally with the recipe on one side and accompanying photo on the other side. There is a short introduction to each recipe, ingredients on the left and method on the right. When required, there is helpful pictorials illustrating certain techniques.
The book is divided into 10 chapters: I've included a selection of recipes from each section that caught my eye (this is not an exhaustive list)
The history of the humble pie
Meat Pies - classic bacons and egg pie, chicken and pork pies with rocket pesto and pear mostarda, chicken, cranberry and camembert pies (perfect for Christmas!)
Seafood Pies - snapper, scallop and chervil pies, spicy monkfish pies
Vegetarian Pies - tomato and thyme tarte tatin, swiss chard, squash and ricotta pithiviers
Not-quite-a-pie - smoked fish empanadas, strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb shortcake
Sweet Pies - prune, pine nut and pumpkin tart, dark chocolate banoffee slab, Lemon, olive oil and blueberry tart, key lime pie
My verdict - It's a beautifully presented book which is easy to read and has lots of good handy tips. The author suggests keeping the book at your bed-side for night time reading and I would agree. It really does teach you all you need to know about making pastries and I think the variety of recipes is excellent. There's definitely something for everyone in there. I especially like the fact that there is a picture for each recipe so you know what yours should look like. I have to say my tarts look nothing like the picture in the book but they were very tasty!
Recipe extracted from Pies by Dean Brettschneider, published by Jacqui Small www.jacquismallpub.com
- re produced with permission
Nutmeg and Rosemary Custard Tarts
1 quantity of basic short pastry or basic sweet pastry.
I chose basic short pastry :
160g plain flour
good pinch of salt
50ml cold water
Nutmeg and rosemary custard tart
600ml full fat milk
1 large sprig rosemary (I used 2)
6 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
1 whole nutmeg
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)
8 tips of rosemary (optional)
Basic short pastry
- Place flour, butter and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Using your fingertips, gently rub ingredients together until they resemble rough breadcrumbs.
- Do not over-mix otherwise butter will begin to melt from the heat of your hands.
- Add water and mix until a dough is formed
- Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Gently re-work pastry before using, taking care to ensure if remain cold and firm.
- Make pastry ahead and rest it as required.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until slightly larger than the tart tins being used, ensuring pastry is 3-4mm thick.
- Line the tart tins, ensuring that the pastry is well tucked into the contours and the edges are trimmed.
- Put these on a baking tray and chill for 30 minutes.
- To make custard, put milk and rosemary sprig into a saucepan and heat until lukewarm.
- Put egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.
- Pour warmed milk onto the yolks and stir well - do not whisk or you will get bubbles.
- Strain into a jug and pour carefully into tart cases.
- Grate fresh nutmeg liberally over surface of each tart.
- Bake in a preheated 200C oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 170C and bake until filling is just set and pastry is just starting to turn a golden colour, about another 10 minutes.
- Don't over-bake as the custard should be a bit wobbly when the tartlets come out of the oven.
- The egg custard will continue to cook as it cools.
- When tartlets are cooled, remove from tins and let cool completely on a rack.
- Lightly dust with icing sugar around the pastry edges, if desired, and place a small tip of rosemary on top of eaach.
- Serve at room temperature.