Chicken Pie and Cookies

I haven’t forgotten…

I have done some baking but not a lot. And since I’m kind of on holiday I’ve not baked any bread but we’re buying at the moment. There’s a nice little bakery in a village nearby… They actually bake on the premises so I don’t feel too bad about it…

The whole story is a bit long but our flat was rented out for a year and it’s just been done up and is getting furnished again. I have to improvise in the kitchen a bit when I notice while making something that I haven’t got certain equipment at hand.

This was the case with this Chicken Pie. I made pastry. Now Mr Meike’s Kitchen had stocked the kitchen after I sent him a shopping list. He’d decanted flour into a container and labelled it “self-raising” but there is also another, closed bag of self-raising flour. One of them was meant to be plain… So I’m using the open one as plain, in the hope that it’s right…

I had found a recipe for a Chicken Pot Pie here which I used as a guide to make my own.

Ingredients for the pastry:
360g flour – which may, or may not, be self-raising
1 tsp salt
250g butter
1 egg
2 tbsp cold water
1 sprig of rosemary

I had to roll out the pastry with a pint glass as there was no rolling pin… I used about two thirds for the base and somehow got it into a baking tray… I blind baked it at 200°C (although I’m not sure whether our oven here is accurate) for 10 minutes.

I didn’t get to eat the pie when it first came out of the oven. When I had some the next day, it was soft (I don’t want to say it was soggy…) but it was tasty.

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Ingredients for the Filling:
The meat of about one and a third roast chicken
A colander full of frozen mixed veg
Olive oil and butter
Flour
Milk and water
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
A sprig of rosemary

I took the veg out before I started making the sauce in order to let it thaw a bit. The sauce was just a simple thick white sauce to coat the chicken and veg. I stirred it together the best I could and spread it over the pastry base before covering it with the remaining pastry.

Bake for half an hour at 200°C.

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The men in the house liked it and that’s good enough for me.

We’ve done some culture since getting to Leicester, dragging the kids to Newarke House Museum and to New Walk Museum.

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Making cookies with the kids is a good idea when the weather isn’t great. So the other day, when Miss Meike’s Kitchen was busy lining up matchbox cars on the lowboard, Master Meike’s Kitchen and I made Double Choc Chip Cookies. He did a very good job chopping some dwrk and white chocolate. I was very impressed.

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We used my cookies recipe but used self-raising flour (due to no baking powder in the cupboard), only caster sugar and no vanilla. The dark chocolate unfortunately dominated the white and I really should have thought of that but I suppose they added to the flavour so it’s ok.

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The cookies were dark at the bottom and pale on top but they went from this

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to this

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overnight…

Baking Bread 31

I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to make my day that little bit more stressful by doing some baking. We’ll be traveling to England tomorrow, all four of us, for nearly four weeks. You’d think I’ve got enough on my plate as it is. Actually, I originally was going to make cookies for the journey… Even more work!

In order to have enough bread for today and the morning and some in the freezer for our return, I needed to make another loaf and I opted for a small one from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf, a Sunflower Bread. The recipe is available here. I substituted part of the sunflower seeds with flax seeds (normal and golden). It tastes fine but it turned out a little bit on the heavy side. I think I added too much water so the loaf is actually a bit stodgy. And it could have done with a longer rise but I didn’t have the required amount of yeast either so that probably didn’t help.
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It’s a shame because the loaf in the book looks rather tasty:

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I also made Dan’s Spotted Soda Loaf, I’ve made it a few times now (first time here) and it’s always turned out nicely. This time I substituted the Golden Syrup with honey and I think this is even nicer! Shame you can’t see that from the pictures!

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Apple Pie and Baking Bread 30

Let’s continue the American classic pie week…

I made an Apple Pie, indeed it was La vraie Apple Pie… The recipe is, of all places, from a French magazine called Avantages. Mister Meike’s Kitchen used to buy it for me at the airport or at French train stations on his travels back home. I’ve made various apple cakes before but never a pie and, whether this is an authentic American recipe or not, it’s a great recipe. And it was rather fun to make. As it says in the article: Toute résistance est inutile.

The pastry is rolled out on baking parchment (“papier cuisson”) and then lifted into a springform tin.
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The pastry case is filled with chunky apple pieces mixed with apricot jam, lemon juice, cinnamon (“cannelle”) and semolina (“semoule”). The recipe actually asks for strips of lemon zest but the little shop in our village doesn’t stock organic lemons so I had to make do without and it was alright. There’s also a suggestion to make the pie encore plus british to add a bit of grated nutmeg (“noix de muscade”). I was going to do that but then completely forgot about it because I was too busy stopping Miss Meike’s Kitchen from eating the apple chunks… The pie is then covered with more pastry and the edges sealed. It is brushed with egg white and was supposed to be sprinkled with sugar which I forgot and didn’t do until the pie had been in the oven for a bit… My pie looked quite rustic:

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It is baked!

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It says in the in the instructions that you have to be able to hear the apples sing when the pie is done. I find that a rather poetic description and I made sure Miss and I listened out for it. Obviously it sounds much better in French:

on doit entendre les pommes chanter.

We demolished half of it for dessert (well, we only had a bit of soup for lunch) when it was still a bit warm and tasted and smelled absolutely wonderful.

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I’m actually quite impressed that there is still no sign of a soggy bottom even though the pie was baked six hours before the picture was taken and the apples are rather moist.

Aaaaand because the oven was on anyway and we haven’t got much bread left, I made some bread too. This time nothing adventurous, just a plain white loaf. The Wiener Brot , or “Viennese Bread”, I’ve made a couple of times before.

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The risen dough:

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Miss Meike’s Kitchen has a thing for dough. When she got hold of the bowl, she said: “Lecker Teig” (tasty dough). Then she asked for a spoon and wanted my help. That bowl was as good as clean when she’d finished with it!

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The shaped loaf ready to go in the oven:

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It has turned out very well again and Mr Meike’s Kitchen will have some bread when he comes home at the weekend…

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Pumpkin Pie

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It’s autumn, it’s pumpkin season. I’m rather fond of pumpkin pie but I’ve got to admit that I’ve never had one in America or had an American person make one for me. So I don’t know what they’re supposed to be like but I’ve found a recipe that I like.

Actually, it’s two recipes… One for the pastry and another one for the filling… I’ve got no brain for cake / pie baking at the moment and so I fiddled with the recipe even more and didn’t think that if I nearly doubled the quantity of pumpkin, other ingredients would have to be sized up too… I’m not that happy with it but it tastes fine and Master Meike’s Kitchen helped himself to a second slice and Miss Meike’s Kitchen was humming while eating hers. Definitively good!

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I didn’t pay any attention while the pie was in the oven so it got a bit dark … but a sprinkle of icing sugar covers a multitude of sins…

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I’ve already got a portion of puréed pumpkin in the freezer so I’ll try this one again when I’m hopefully a bit more with it…

I’ll leave you with some impressions from this morning’s Thanksgiving service at our local Protestant church – where Master Meike’s Kitchen’s Kindergarten group performed a couple of songs and a baby was christened.

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Baking Bread 29, a cake disaster and a pizza….

Oh my. Where to start???

I’ve got to tell you about some successes but also about an epic fail. Let’s start with the good bits.

I made Dan Lepard’s Alsace Loaf again. This tims I cooked the rye grains just five minutes longer and it made all the difference. Unfortunately, when I doubled the recipe, I forgot to double the amount of salt so it lacks a bit of flavour but it’s still the best bread I’ve made and a bread the kids love – which is more than enough reason to keep making it. In double quantities…

Here’s the cooked rye grains:

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Two of the loaves on the baking tray after the second prove:

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The finished loaves, again only two of them:

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The recipe suggests to divide the dough into five batons or sticks but I find making two slightly larger loaves works better for me. They need five minutes longer in the oven and freeze rather well.

So that was a success (if we forget about the salt issue…). I’ve got another one…

Today I made pizza for lunch. I think it would best be named the Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn pizza. I made my usual pizza base, this time with some parts wholemeal flour. Instead of a pizza sauce, I used a jar of preserved vegetables which I made last month (pictures here). I’d only made three, the hot vegetable stew was filled into sterilised jars and then canned in a water bath in the oven. The lids had gone “pop” and all that but two jars had already gone off and I had to bin them (so much work and great produce wasted!). I didn’t want to risk the third one going off too so I used it up. I mixed it with a can of tomatoes to bulk it out. We had some leftover green beans and carrots (from the garden too) so I scattered them over what was now a pumpkin-tomato base, topped it with salami and tomato slices. I put mozzarella on the tomatoes and goats cheese (because it goes really well with pumpkin) in the gaps. Absolutely lovely. Very gooey though with a soggy bottom, I’m afraid.

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And now for the cake disaster.

On Saturday, I decided to try out yet another Dan Lepard recipe. This time it was the Layered Apple and Custard Loaf. I liked the following bit from the introduction to the recipe:

[It is] the sort of fruit-bread that children seem to understand so well.

Knowing my children, this should be a winner!

It is made from a sweet yeasted butter dough which has to rest in the fridge for at least 18 hours. It was rather squidgy and hard to work with but I got there in the end.
Then there’s a custard, properly made, no powder involved here. It’s very sweet even though I used a third less sugar. But it’s easy enough to make so no problems.
For the layering, we’ve got three layers of dough, three layers of custard and three layers of apple slices sprinkled with sugar.
The recipes for dough, custard and cake can be found here, by the way.

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It looks promising, doesn’t it?

Out of the oven came this, a lot paler than the picture in The Handmade Loaf but still nice:

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But, unbeknownst to me, disaster had struck:

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The cake was not even anywhere near underbaked. It was unbaked. It was raw. Apart from about two centimetres along the outer edge. If I’d paid attention, I might have noticed that – even with an initial 10-minute blast at 200°C – the cooking time of 35 minutes at 170°C could be a liiiiiiittle bit on the short side. I’ve found similar recipes, with less layers, on the internet (only after the event, of course) that have the cake in the oven for 85 minutes. Harrumph.

I inverted the cake back into the tin and put it back in the oven for another half an hour. It still wasn’t properly cooked through but looked much better:

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The edible bits were actually rather nice and I can (still) imagine that it could be a very nice cake – that my kids would love. So far I’ve had issues with too high temperatures and baking times that were too long in The Handmade Loaf (and that only once, really) – I never in a million hears expected this. And it seriously annoyed me. It was a lot of work that went into the making of this cake – and then that!

I’m in two minds over whether to give it another go or not. But with an adapted baking time I should be fine. Oh, I don’t know. You’ll hear about it if I do…