Monday, November 28, 2005

A British Take on Pies for Thanksgiving

with thanks to Jamie Oliver for his help

photograph picture of Toffee Apple Tart and Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart

This year, for the first time since I moved to America nearly five years ago, I was invited into the home of some friends, to join their family for a Thanksgiving meal. When we accepted the invitation, we assumed it was a dinner for their friends. When we arrived to realise we would be sharing the occasion, instead, with members of their families from all over the country, we felt incredibly honoured to have been included.

photograph picture of  Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart
Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart
The hostess asked me if I would mind contributing to the dessert. Of course not! Any excuse to spend time dabbling in the kitchen. I turned to the tart-centric dessert section of Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners cookbook hoping to find recipes that not only would make suitable Thanksgiving fare, but would also help me utilize some of the homegrown apples that Elise had kindly given me the week before. Some readers have already been surprised to discover that Jamie's recipe for Maple syrup and pecan tart contains breadcrumbs. Yes! Breadcrumbs, you heard correctly. This tart is based on the very British, breadcrumb-utilizing Treacle Tart, but is then given a North American twist with the ommission of treacle and the addition of Maple Syrup and pecans instead. It also contains grated apple and orange zest. A sprinkling of thyme leaves at the end adds to its interesting flavour. Instead of using Jamie's pastry recipe for this tart's crust, I turned to the less-sweet dough featured on Shuna's blog which is easy to make with great results. A note about the breadcrumbs: The recipe doesn't specify whether dried or fresh should be used. I used dry ones, but next time might experiment with fresh or a combintion of the two. I think fresh crumbs might result in a more moist filling. The dry ones weren't bad, but maybe it could be better. Pictured above is the mini test-version of the pie. The big one looked like this.This was my personal favourite, but everyone else seemed to prefer the other tart:

photograph picture of  Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart
Toffee Apple Tart
The recipe for this super-rich, sickly-sweet treat of a pie is not available online but I can easily tell you how to make it and you can experiment. Firstly you need to make some Dulce de Leche. This is easy to do, as any self-respecting Brit who has ever made Banoffee Pie can attest. For the tart recipe you will need to use just two-14oz cans of sweetened condensed milk, but since it keeps for months in the fridge after being made, you may as well prepare more tins than you need as a stockpile for future dessert making. Take, then, (at least)two 14-oz cans of condensed milk. Place in a large, high-sided heavy pan and fill with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer the cans for 3 hours. Be very careful to keep the cans covered at all times and not to let the water run dry in which case rumour has it that the cans will explode.

Secondly you need to make a batch of Jamie's signature sweet pastry. Note - the number of egg yolks and amount of butter he uses does seem to change a little according to the source of the recipe, but hopefully, since this one is on his web page, it will be ok. In the book I used there were only two egg yolks specified and I thought it was a bit dry. This pastry is not a roll-out-the-dough recipe, it is a cut the pastry into slivers and squoosh together in the pan recipe. It is untraditional, yes, but the end result is very good. Mold the slivers into your 11inch pie dish and leave to chill in the freezer for at least an hour. Set the oven to 350F. Peel and slice the flesh of four as-sharp-as-you-can-get apples, rolling them to cover in a handful of icing/powdered sugar. Remove pastry case from freezer and empty into it, the contents of the two cans of pre-prepped condensed milk dulce-de-leche. Spread so it covers the base evenly then cover with the sugared apples. Pop into the preheated oven for 40 minutes until the caramel is bubbling. The result is pretty juicy. Scoop out portions with a spoon - you wont be able to cut it into neat slices. Serve with whipped cream to balance out the sweetness.

PS - Thanks, again, to Elise, who kindly provided me with enough apples from her garden to use in both of these recipes.

Archive Alert! On this date in 2004 we were partying at The Gostbar in Las Vegas.

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A British Take on Pies for Thanksgiving


  • At 28/11/05 09:40, Blogger Stephanie said…

    Oh, my god, Sam...that second tart? I don't even like fruit pies, and I want to make it! in-laws return from Texas tomorrow night, and will be keeping Alex this Friday. What better way to thank them than with a gorgeous tart like this?

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • At 28/11/05 11:59, Blogger AnnaW said…

    Hello Sam,

    I am at home recovering from an operation, and using my enforced time in bed to cruise for delicious recipes. These tarts sound great. I am imagining eating them n now (my appetite is not in need of recovery you see!)

  • At 28/11/05 13:58, Blogger Rose said…

    I think I have to go out and buy a tart pan immediately! (I know, I should already have one)

    As always your pics are just drool worthy, but these tart pics really are just fabulous--I like the setup! May I ask why camera do you use? Still looking for a new model to buy.

  • At 28/11/05 15:21, Blogger deborah said…

    Wow these look amazing Sam - and your descriptions have me falling off my chair - hopefully into a bowl of Dulce de Leche :)

    The first tart reminds me of the golden syrup and pecan tart I buy froma local bakery in Sydney - it really is a lovely combination.

    So my next question is; ummm what will you be making for christmas?

  • At 29/11/05 00:53, Blogger Annette Tan said…

    Hey Sam, that just looks too good. I'm going to dive into that recipe soon. Thanks for the inspiration...

  • At 29/11/05 08:20, Blogger Sam said…

    no problem - I hope it works out ok for everyone seeing as I haven't really left a precise recipe. Don't forget to boil up extra cans of condensed milk to make banoffee pie too.

    Anna - I hope you are feeling better soon, but if you still have your appetite, then I guess it cant be too bad.

    I think I have another recipe that might better this for the christmas pudding replacement, andrew, but its anohter experiment based on something I had in a restaurant in Paris, and I don't know when I will have time to test it out.

    Rose - thanks - I have a Canon 20D. And I think I took these pics with my macro lens. (in daylight - that's an important factor!)

    saffron - I don't even know what I am doing for christmas yet. we will see.

    meena - i hope to take part. I really like that ou have given us over a month to get organised. I don't know if you know, I love Indian food. I did a series on it about 6 months ago at which time there was barely an Indian food blog to be found so I, for one, am grateful for the recent explosion of them.

    Eggy - dont forget to check out banoffee too. Every American I have tested it on has swooned. Of course the Brits are more used to it and probably find it more pedestrian. Good luck!

  • At 29/11/05 13:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam you know how I hate to disappoint you so after your comments with cookiecrumb. I thought I would say these tarts look delicious. I really ought to try something new for Christmas but I expect I will be too exhausted. Maybe I can get Becs or even Mollie to try something. I know what the children will want to do and that is make Christmas Crackers( Blue Peter recipe 23/12/01 from sausagemeat and cheesen'chives in filo).

  • At 29/11/05 15:02, Blogger Elise said…

    Hey Sam,
    Those look so good! You are very welcome for the apples. Let me know if you are coming to Sacramento and I'll pile you up with more.

  • At 30/11/05 12:23, Blogger tara said…

    Sam, I absolutely adore the shot of the Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart. What a stunning photo - practically perfect in every way (with apologies to Ms. Poppins).


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