Bake Off Challenge – Pecan Pie
The Bake Off Challenges are a series of posts I’m doing to celebrate my 100th post. I’ve challenged myself to have a go at making something from, or inspired by, ‘The Great British Bake Off‘ – an English programme in which 12 contestants have to bake something different every week. It will hopefully improve my baking skills and as I go, I’ll spill my guts about how hard these things actually are to make!
Ok, so I’m a bit late with my bake off challenge this week (or last week now, I suppose), but I’ve been busy sorting lots of things out for going back to uni. Also, my laptop’s being a pain and won’t let me watch any videos at ALL, which means I can only watch the last half of the bake off as I don’t get home from canoeing in time to see the first half. (By the way, anyone who knows why my laptop might be behaving like this, I would LOVE some advice right now!).
The challenge I picked this time was baking an American pie and there was only really one that I wanted to try. Pecan pie. I’ve never tasted it before and I’ve always been a bit intrigued by it. I looked the recipe up in my brand new Bake Off book, but it called for 150g of pecan nuts which are apparently rather expensive. My mum gave me an old American recipe book that she has to see if there was
cheaper better recipe in there, which there was.
To start with, I made some short crust pastry using the same method as I did for the treacle tart and popped it in the fridge while I made the filling for the pie. To do this, I measured out 14 fl. oz (which will always be pronounced ‘flounces’ in my head) of golden syrup into a saucepan. I hate working with golden syrup as it’s just SO sticky and invariably ends up smeared on every single surface in a 5 metre radius of the tin.
I added 6 oz of brown sugar to the syrup and heated it until it was boiling, at which point I took it off the heat and added 2 oz of butter.
After the butter had been stirred in, I left it to cool while I sorted out the pastry. After making the treacle tart, I wanted to improve my pastry skills by rolling it as thin as possible, and also because I wasn’t blind-baking it this time. I was quite pleased with how thin I managed to get it actually!
Next came the terrifying bit of rolling it up and then unrolling it onto the flan tin. It wasn’t too bad, but because the pastry was so thin the tin kind of acted like a giant pastry cutter. Thankfully my quick thinking mum was on hand to lift up the edges, taking the pressure off the pastry and saving the pie.
After that little fiasco was sorted, I used a technique I saw on The Great British Bake Off to push the pastry into the edges of the tin to give it a fluted edge. The idea behind this is that it keeps your nails away from the pastry so you don’t make any holes in it. It worked ok, but I found the pastry in my fingers just squished out before it made much of an impact. Afterwards I went round it again with the handle of a knife and this worked much better. I then sliced off the extra pastry (which was used for some jam tarts).
With the pastry completed, I popped it back in the fridge while I finished the filling. The mixture had to be cool enough for me to stick my finger in and hold it there and it took AGES to cool (which wasn’t too bad actually, as it required lots of testing which coincidentally meant I got to lick the mixture off my finger over and over again…). I ended up putting it in the sink in a bowl of cold water to speed up the cooling process.
After one more finger dip and lick, I decided it was cool enough to add the two beaten eggs.
And once they were mixed in, the filling was done. All that was left to do was pour the filling into the pastry and add the pecan nuts.
It’s quite nerve-racking doing the pattern because you have to be relatively quick but obviously want to do it nicely. Once it was done, I put it in the oven which was preheated at 180 degrees C on a tray that had been in the oven while it was heating up. This just gives the pastry base a little extra help cooking properly. We put the timer on for 50 minutes which is what the recipe said, but as neither my mum or I have ever made a pecan pie before we had no idea if it was done or not! The recipe said to bake it for 50 minutes or ‘until done’, which was incredibly unhelpful. After a quick search on the internet and in the Bake Off book, we found out that the middle should just be solid but the rest should still wobble as it continues to cook once it’s taken out. This was the end result:
And THERE WAS NO SOGGY BOTTOM!!! YAY! It tasted delicious and was very rich. I’ve decided I definitely like pecan pie. MMMmmmm…