The almond and raspberry pie I created for the Portola Valley Town Picnic on June 6th, 2009 is based on a traditional English Bakewell Tart. The BBC has a picture of a Bakewell Tart, with a recipe. Below is my recipe, with footnotes, as it is the details that make a difference. I also listed the exact brand of ingredients in brackets.
For the Rich Shortcrust Pastry (can be made a day in advance)1 2
You may use any kind of pastry, including a purchased frozen pastry shell which saves time. I chose rich shortcrust pastry because it is a bit softer and sweeter than regular pastry.
- 2 cups + ½ a cup for dusting the rolling pin and rolling surface Self Rising (Self Raising (UK)) flour (Gold Medal Specialty Self Rising Flour) – regular flour, including wholemeal, is OK 3 below
- 1 stick (4 oz) chilled butter (Clover Organic Salted)
- 1 egg - you need the yolk (save the white for glazing the pastry)
- 1 tablespoon icing (powdered) sugar 4
- Juice from one lemon 5
- Approx. 3 tablespoons of chilled water 6 7 8 9
For the Filling
- 3 oz soft butter or margarine (Imperial Margarine non-hydrogenated from soy oil)
- 1 tablespoon sugar 13
- 3 eggs ( Organic Valley large brown eggs)
- 3 oz of ground almonds (or if you can't get them get almond slivers from Bianchini's (Trader Joes sell them in bigger bags, but I've found them a bit dry))11 12
- 2/3 cup Self Rising (Self Raising (UK)) flour (Gold Medal Specialty Self Rising Flour)
- 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam or conserve (Andronico's own brand raspberry preserve) 14
- Small packet frozen raspberries (I used Cascadian farm organic frozen raspberries from Bianchini's) 15
- Almonds for decoration 10 12
Arrange an oven shelf so that it is in the middle of the oven. Turn on the oven, setting it to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Separate the egg yolk and save the white. You can do this by cracking the egg on a flat surface (a sharp edge may break the yolk) and carefully pulling it apart slightly so that just the white drains out into a dish, then put the yolk in the food processor.
Squeeze the juice out of a lemon and strain out the pips and pulp.
Take about ½ a cup of flour and put it on a smooth counter top or large board. Roll it around with the rolling pin until it covers an area that is about 12" by 12".
Chop the butter into thin slices. Take the butter wrapper and grease a pie dish, preferably a deep fluted one, very well (less well if it is non-stick).
Put all the pastry ingredients, except the water, egg white and the extra flour for dusting into the food processor, i.e. 2 cups of flour go into the food processor. I only have one chopping blade in my food processor, so I used that. If you have a pastry blade, even better. Run it on high until the butter is mixed in and the mixture looks crumby. While the motor is running, pour about 3 tablespoonfuls of water into the mixer, then trickle in the rest very slowly watching carefully until the pastry forms a single ball. Hopefully, this won't burn out the motor of your food processor, if it starts to slip and there's a burning smell shut it off for a while.
Take the ball out and put it on the floured surface. Take some flour and sprinkle it on top of it and make sure the rolling pin is covered in flour. Roll the pastry evenly and quickly, so that it stays cool, until it is big enough to cover your pie dish and the sides as well.
When it is rolled out, put your rolling pin at one side and roll it around your rolling pin. Take the pastry and unroll it over your pie dish. Press it into the sides of the pie dish. To stop the pastry falling into the pie dish take the pastry at the edges and let it go about ¼" over the edge of the pie dish. Then trim it with a knife and save the trimmings.
I cheated here as I could not get the pastry to stay in one piece. So I put the pastry on the floor of the pie dish. Then I cut strips to go round the walls at the edge and stuck them to the bottom pastry with water. It was easier to let the strips hang over the edge of the dish and fit them into the fluted edge.
Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork all over. If you like you can put pie weights on the pastry to stop it rising, but if you prick it well this is unnecessary. Put the pie crust in the oven for no longer than 5 minutes while you make the pie filling, just to dry it out a little bit. Note: this goes against the grain of fine pastry chefs, but it helps make the walls of the pie stronger!
Squish the trimmings into a ball, then roll with the rolling pin into a long shape. Cut the pastry into strips about 1/3" wide.
Making the Filling and Completing the Pie
If you don't have ground almonds, then use almond slivers or blanch some fresh almonds. Grind them in a small food processor designed for grinding nuts. Crack the eggs and get all the ingredients ready for the pie filling.
Take the pie crust out of the oven – it won't be cooked but the base will be a bit drier. Let it cool a few minutes, while you clear up the floury mess from rolling out the pastry. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spread the raspberry jam on the bottom. Cover the bottom with one layer of frozen raspberries (it doesn't matter if they are still frozen).
Put the fat (butter or margarine), flour, eggs and ground almonds into the food processor. Run the food processor on high until the mixture is smooth (about 2 minutes). Gently spread the mixture over the raspberries – spread it out evenly with a palette knife being careful not to let the raspberries show through the mixture.
Take the ribbons of pastry to make a lattice. Put some across at about 2" apart – stick each strip at the edge to the existing pie shell with some water. Then put some at right angles to them about 2" apart. Go back to the original direction and put some more strips across between the first layer. Then put a final layer across them.
Here I had to cheat again as the edges of the pie looked raggy. So I bent over the crust into the pie and pinched it.
Decorate the gaps between the pastry strips with either whole or slivered almonds. Get a pastry brush and dip it in the egg white, left over from pastry making, or dip it in milk or cream. I used some left-over cream, but the egg white would be equally good. Paint the strips so they go golden in the oven. Put the pie in the middle of the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes until it is starting to go golden on top. I used a silicone pastry brush which was a disaster as it doesn't spread the glazing liquid evenly – use a brush with nylon bristles and if it looks like it will melt in the dish washer like mine did, resulting in my purchase of the silicone brush, then wash it by hand.
Turn on the oven light about 10 minutes before the pie should be ready and watch it – don't open the oven door early on as it may sag and go sad. Take the pie out of the oven. If you are brave and think you can get the pie out of the dish without it breaking put it on a wire rack to cool (I dare not do this step in case it broke!). Get a tea strainer or fine sieve and a teaspoonful of icing (powdered) sugar – dust it over the top before the pie has cooled. The pie can be eaten warm or cold with or without fresh cream (or custard).
I sifted through The Colour Library Book of Baking (1987 – out of print but many copies are available for a penny on amazon.co.uk) to get ideas for a pie recipe. This book has an excellent choice of pie, flan and tart recipes complete with color pictures for any future competitions. I modified the recipes for Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (p184) and Bakewell Tart (p234) to create my Almond and Raspberry Pie. The recipe in the book is for an 8" pie dish, but mine was 9" so I increased the number of ingredients.
- The trick to making good pastry is to keep it very cool outside the oven – as I was in a hurry I put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes – which was not enough. It rolls better if you put it in an air tight container or wrap it in clear film and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- Handle the pastry as little as possible so that it does not go rubbery. Since the pastry was fresh with minimal water, and had not been in the fridge long, it kept breaking so I had to roll it 3 times, not a prize-winning tactic.
- You don't need self-rising flour for the pastry, but you do need it for the filling. If you don't have self-rising flour, then use any other flour add either 1 teaspoon of baking soda, or ½ a teaspoon of tartaric acid and ½ a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda for the filling.
- The original recipe had 1 tablespoon castor (powdered) sugar. Castor sugar is fine grained sugar, it's not readily available in the US, where the normal sugar has quite small grains – so you could use normal sugar. To make sure it mixed evenly, I used powdered (icing) sugar.
- Fresh lemon tastes best, but you can use bottled lemon juice or juice that comes in a plastic lemon, to save time.
- I did not use chilled water, but it makes better pastry if you do.
- Use as little water as possible that forms a ball. If you have too much water, the pastry gets hard.
- The original recipe called for about 4 tablespoonfuls of water. The flour tends to be dry in CA, so I used more. I trickle the water into the blender as it is running.
- The original recipe asked for a pinch of salt. I omitted salt as the flour and butter were already salted.
- Split almonds are usually used for decoration. The split almonds I found in Bianchini's had skin on them and I couldn't slice some whole almonds very easily, so I used whole, blanched almonds for decoration.
- I ground my almonds from almond slivers. If you have fresh almonds then you can blanch them by putting them in boiling water to remove their skins and then let them dry and grind them. the best almonds come in mid-summer from the Central Valley, but I bought two 3 oz packets – one of slivered almonds and the other of whole blanched almonds from Bianchini's.
- The original recipe called for a few drops of almond essence in the pie filling. I didn't have any, so omitted it.
- The original recipe called for 1/3 cup of castor (powdered) sugar. I used 1 tablespoon to save a few calories, but you can add sugar to taste.
- The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam. The raspberry preserves that I used were not as sugary and fruity. You could omit the fresh or frozen raspberries and just use jam, as in traditional Bakewell tarts.
- I augmented the recipe with raspberries, as I did not have enough jam or raspberry preserves.