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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Walking on the Beaches Looking at the Nectarines (Doesn't Quite Have the Same Ring to It)

My good friend/arch nemesis Fiona (no hyperlink for you this time, matey; I've plugged you twice already) came to visit recently and as all best laid plans seem to do, the recent spate of good weather decided to break into full on rain-to-ground water-rape, and said plans to go for walks and little picnics and such were devoured suddenly and remorselessly by a swarm of mouse-men. That is how the phrase goes, yeah?

I didn't really understand the film either...
So its raining. You're stuck in an empty house with your girlfriend and you've got the whole afternoon to fill. What on earth could you do to pass the time?

Of course! Bake! Duh, you guys...

Sweet, sticky, baking.
Our first thought was a crumble of sorts. Quick and easy and very yummy. Maybe rhubarb or apple. A classic choice. But sadly, no luck; the only fruit the closest shop had were grapes, nectarines and tomatoes. One of those has very little baking potential and another is a tomato. So nectarines were the last resort. They'd do. They're pretty much peaches anyway, just with the toe-curlingly furry skin sanded down a bit.

A bit like how American Football is like sport with the sport taken out.
Peach pies are a thing apparently, so we decided to just alter this recipe a little and make our own nectarine pie, hopefully inadvertently developing a new culinary sensation in the process.

Here's what you need for the crust:

"2 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1 tablesp-" Woah, hold on there. Stop the pastry parade for a second.

The main parade float this year featuring Jabba the Hutt flogging Santa in his not-at-christmas clothes.
I don't know what a cup is. Is that a real measurement, like a cubit? If you want to cheat people out of pie do you have to hire the street urchin with the shortest arms (or in this case the smallest begging cup) to make your units smaller? The god of all baking gives us a conversion chart for changing into real units so let's give it another, annotated, go:

"375g all-purpose Gold Medal flour (you can use Silver Medal flour, but you'll only come second in the bake-off)
1(2/3/I like my pie crust really sweet so lots) tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
225g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
120ml buttermilk, cold (if you're having trouble getting milk out of the butter, do what we did and use the regular stuff)
1-2 tablespoons water, cold
1 large egg, beaten, for the egg wash"

If you've ever baked, or read a baking recipe, you'll know what's coming next; mix all the dry stuff, then add the chunks of butter and make it all breadcrumby with your hands or, alternatively, use a rolling pin to mush it all together. If you are literally baked, now is the time to put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and eat it with a wooden spoon whilst giggling at episodes of Takeshi's Castle.

He ate the photographer shortly after this. That stuff is a slippery slope...
Once the mix is all mushed together nicely into a flaky mess, bung it in the freezer for fifteen minutes and pop the kettle on. Once the quarter hour is up, take it back out and add the milk, mixing it together until everything comes together in a ball. Chop the ball in to two, flatten those two half-balls into discs, wrap them in cling film and put them in the fridge for upwards of an hour.

Please do not try this on any other type of ball.
Now for the fun stuff. As I said, we tweaked the filling slightly:

8/10 sliced and peeled nectarines
175g sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (preferably, as in definitely, not in stick form)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

A healthy glug of orange juice (smooth or with bits, we don't judge)
3-4 tablespoons-ish cornstarch

This bit is easy. Chop the nectarines and put them in a bowl.

Like so.
Just a little warning when doing this bit, the pits of the nectarines can be as sharp as your disapproving grandparents after they've had a couple sherries, so be careful if you end up pulling the fruit apart by hand if it happens to be a little under-ripe.

For more information, please see my article on improvised prison weapons that also count towards your five a day.
After you've cut all of the nectarines up and paid a quick trip to the hospital to remove any sharp objects from your person, throw in all of the other above ingredients and stir nicely. 

Then take a weirdly angled shot of your handiwork.
Hopefully by now the hour will be up and you can grab your pastry. If not, get drunk or something.

Works for her.
Roll out one of your discs of pastry to about yay-thick. A yay is commonly considered to be approximately between a little and some, so just about 1/4 of an inch. Chuck it into a pie dish (those are the ones for pies) and make sure it's pressed into the edges. Add your mix. Roll out the other slab of pastryey goodness and make a choice. Lattice or full crust. If you're not sure, flip a coin and let fate decide.

Works for him.
Choose and place your appropriate pastry lid, slice off the excess pastry round the edge of the dish, eat it guiltily, beat that egg from earlier on, take his money, wash him over the top of the pie and throw it into an oven at 190-ish degrees C. Once it goes evenly brown on the top take it out and you're done.

Now we throw it at someone, right?
Boom. Baking. Dawdle. Finishing this article at 2am with work tomorrow. No funny ending. Piss off, at least I posted something.

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