At the end of the Lord of the Rings series, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin ride back into the Shire, home…at last.
We heaved a similar sigh on returning home from holidays on Monday night. Not that we’ve been fighting dragons or destroying magical rings, but we could finally unpack our suitcases, instinctively recognise the currency again (I never quite figured out the difference between 10 and 20 cent Euro coins), stop thinking about hotel bookings and catch up on this blog!
I can also buy groceries and make dinner on a whim, knowing exactly what is in the pantry and which kitchen utensils are where. (First dinner at home? Rigatoni with crispy prosciutto, baby peas, goats milk fetta and just enough cream cheese to mix everything together)
Don’t get me wrong. Scotland, London, Germany – were beautiful, often magical. I am in love with Hebridean sunlight and kaffee und kuchen in Germany, and am still a little obsessed by black faced sheep. But there is something about home, our little world. Even going back to work on Tuesday was fun, catching up with friends, staying awake though my brain was still on central European time.
I’ll be sorting our 2000-odd holiday snaps for a while, so expect random photos of peat bogs, lochs, black faced sheep, churches and castles at random intervals. Meanwhile, on the theme of home coming, here’s a homely apple, pear and quince pie with walnut pastry.
Just before going on holidays, I made savoury galettes with the Tuesdays with Dorie group. After the galette, I tweaked the cornmeal pastry recipe, using ground walnuts instead of the cornmeal, and made it into a mini pie.
It was my first time making a lattice top for a pie, and it worked!
The pastry had a real depth of flavour from walnuts, which offset the sweet apple, quince jam and pear filling. The pastry made with ground walnuts was softer than cornmeal pastry, but it baked up beautifully, the pie kept its shape and remained upright (phew!).
The filling was a mixture of pears and heirloom variety apples that were looking for a good home, and the quince jam that we needed to use up before emptying the fridge and going on holidays. Quince and apple are such tried and true friends, Frodo and Sam style, I probably don’t need to introduce them again, but I was happily surprised by how well they got along with the pears too.
The only note on the filling is to make sure there isn’t too much liquid, otherwise you may get a soggy pie base. I pan fried the apple and pear slices briefly with a knob of butter and a pinch of sugar, and sprinkled some lemon juice at the end.
And lattice pie tops? It was easy following tutorials like this one.
Eat with ice cream, or cream, or both.
Apple, pear and quince jam pie with walnut pastry
Walnut pastry (makes enough for two mini-pies)
3 tbsp (45ml) sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk
1/3 cup (approximately) iced water
1 cup (about 130-140g) plain / AP flour
1/4-1/3 cup (30-40g) ground walnuts
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp (about 90 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Pie filling (sorry, I don’t have exact quantities as this was a clean-out-the-pantry recipe)
Quince jam, 2-3 tablespoons
A variety of apples (2-4 depending on size), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 pear, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
A knob of butter
1-2 tablespoons of sugar or to taste
Half teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Optional: some lemon juice, to taste
1. For the pastry: Stir the sour cream / yoghurt / buttermilk and the water in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Put the flour, ground walnuts, sugar, and salt into a bowl, stir to combine. Add the chopped butter and stir to coat with flour. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture – quickly, before butter warms up – until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter that vary in size from bread crumbs to peas.
3. Add the sour cream mixture and fold into the dry ingredients just until you get soft, moist curds and the mixture can come together into a ball of dough. You can knead it slightly, but try to resist over-working the very soft dough.
4. Divide the ball of dough in half. Flatten, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
5. For the filling: Heat butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and just starting to froth, add the apples and pears and sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon. Cook into the edges of the fruit chunks are just starting to colour. Add lemon juice to taste, if you prefer a tart edge to the pie. Mix with half of the quince jam.
6. To make the pie: pre-heat the oven to 400F / 200C, butter a 10-cm pie dish or springform cake pan. Divide each ball of dough in half and roll out each half. Transfer one circle to the pie dish, gently prod the pastry so it lies snug against the edges of the pie dish. Make sure there is some pastry overhanging the edge of the pie dish.
7. Blind bake for about 20 minutes. When the pastry case is just cooled, add the filling: spoon the apple and pear chunks into the pastry case, add the remaining half of the quince jam over the top.
8. Slice the remaining circle of pastry into strips. Arrange in a lattice pattern over the pie fillings. Follow tutorials like this one if you need one. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the lattice patterned pastry turns a golden brown at the edges.