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when squash met cashel

When Squash met Cashel.

So.  I did it!  I faced my pastry demons and came through victorious, like some sort of baking Joan of Arc, battling the murky, tempestuous world of flour, butter and water.

Maybe that’s going slightly too far.

I managed to make a fairly kicking savoury tart the other night, and yes, I’ve been followed around by a vague sense of warm achievement ever since.  It’s a curious thing.  In fact, this video is fairly close to how I felt at the end of the evening sitting down to eat my very own home-made pastry.

The tart itself took me over three hours to make.  By the time it was ready, I was exhausted.  It made me think of my granny, who always had time to make a rhubarb tart – no doubt daily – while still looking after the kids and her husband.  And gardening and cleaning and growing veg and dusting and peeling spuds.  Unbelievable.

Now that I can just go to the shops and buy some ready to roll pastry, is it worth all the fuss?  It took an awful lot of energy and time.  Is it worth it?  I think it is.  For special occassions.  Simply because of the feeling of achievement that I’ve been left with.  And it must get easier, right?  In fairness, my granny has probably around 80 years of experience in pastry making, so she can just whip it up without any fuss.  I imagine it will get easier every time.  And Jen the Pastry Chef said it gets easier.  She would know.

It was a personal quest of mine to make this pastry, and I really want to thank all of the foodies who gave me such good advice after my first disasterous attempt.  This time round, I was armed with information and pastry-proof tips from Jocelyn, The Daily Spud, Jenna, The On-Line Pastry Chef, and I felt comforted by the back-up support from Diva, Darrah, English Mum, Lottie, Lola-Lu and all my other lovely commenters.

I think my main weapons were that I put the butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes so it was reaalllly cold.  I also put a glass of water in the fridge so it too was really cold.  I also used a food processor this time, so that my grubby hands didn’t even get a look in at the pastry.

pastry uncooked

In your FACE, pastry demons!

I found this recipe in last weekend’s Guardian on Saturday weekend.  It’s by Jane Baxter, a chef at Riverford Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh (BUCKFASTleigh?!?! WOW.)  in Devon.

I was a little unsure about using the recipe as I feel sometimes magazine recipes can be a bit hit and miss, and often aren’t well tested, leading to incorrect measurements, dodgy instructions, stress etc.

The recipe as it was written was slightly confusing, and I felt that it could have been laid out better to make the best use of time, so I adapted it slightly.  Reorganised it if you will.

Pastry aside, there was nothing difficult about this tart.  It was just really time-consuming!

butternut blue cheese tart on plate

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So, in an attempt to overcome my recent Pastry FAIL, I decided to have a pastry lesson with my beautiful and wonderful friend Jocelyn.  She’s the type of cook who only uses recipes as a starting point and just follows her nose from there.  She’s bleedin’ brilliant.

So I went over to Joc’s new place last night to watch how she does it.  Below I’ve outlined her process of making the pastry and I’ve put in pictures of our resulting pie but haven’t put in the ingredients.  They were from Joc’s Cafe Paradiso cookbook though and it was an Aubergine, Tomato and Mozzarella Tart.  Rock on.

Thanks to a lot of you guyses’ feedback, I know that two big factors let me down on my first home-made pastry attempt.  Firstly, I used gluten-free flour.  Secondly, the butter was melting by the time I was sifting it through the flour with my stubby grubby non-pastry proof fingers.  Plus, I was following a bizarre recipe which involved an egg.  No, no, no, Aoife Mc!  You’re doing it all wrong!

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