Friday, October 22, 2010

Things I don't normally do

There are two things I hardly ever bake: biscuits/cookies and pastry.

Biscuits (however tasty) involve faff. You have to make lots of little balls of dough, roll them, flatten them, bake them in lots of batches (or at least I do; our oven is small)... Yawn. I prefer to make one big thing, like a cake, that I can just stick in there and forget about for half an hour or whatever, without being chained to the kitchen. However, having made the oatmeal raisin cookies from Veganomicon (photo here) - VERY PATIENTLY I might add, three sheets worth of carefully rolled and flattened cookies) - I am prepared to admit that diligence does pay off. I'm just not that keen on that much diligence very often.

Pastry - I lack confidence with. I am intimidated by the concept of making and handling pastry. I'm not quite sure why though, because despite my fear I have made several lots of shortcrust pastry in the last month or so and each has turned out well, and even been easy! Perhaps my developing bread-baking skills are giving me more confidence. Even more exciting is the fact that I now know how to make sourdough pastry, using this recipe from Wild Sourdough:

50g sourdough starter (any kind; I normally use rye)
310g wholemeal wheat or spelt flour (I haven't tried it with white flour yet)
85g water for plain pastry or maple syrup for sweet (honey also works)
75g olive oil
1 tsp salt (optional so far as I'm concerned)

Preheat oven to 200C.

Combine the liquid ingredients including starter and mix thoroughly. Stir into the flour and add the salt if using. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before rolling out and lining your pie dish - this is enough pastry for a 26cm tart or about 3 dozen mini tarts. (It also works well for free-form tarts.) Prick the base several times with a fork.

Rest for 30 minutes in the fridge before filling and baking - you can also blind bake it for about 10 minutes or so if you want to add a filing later.


I filled this little stack of sweet tart cases with the following coconut-chocolate ganache:

200ml coconut cream
200g dark chocolate (50-70% cocoa depending on how sweet you want it)

Heat the coconut cream in a small saucepan over low heat until steaming. Remove from the heat. Break up the chocolate into small chunks and add to the coconut cream, stirring until completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly then pour into tart cases. It will thicken and set as it cools. Store in the fridge.

It's not super-strong in the coconut flavour - you might like to add some coconut essence or liqueur or something if you want it stronger. You can use it as a sauce for ice cream or to ice a cake. Or just eat it. It's pretty good.


  1. Verity, I wish I could eat these off the screen!

  2. mmmm, those little tarts look delicious! will you come and cook for me? ;-p
    also - nothing beats homemade ANZAC bikkies, so good!


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