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20 Nov 2012

Sweet Cherry Pie

When asked about my favorite dessert people are always shocked when I express my dislike for cake.  Being the owner of a cake shop I guess its expected that I spend my days chomping on cupcakes while excitedly rubbing my ever growing tummy.  Thankfully, cake just doesn't rock my world in the treat department.  Pies are much more my thing, hence them rarely appearing on the menu at Pet Lamb.  We were recently contacted by a client asking if we could supply sweet cherry pies to his establishment (which just so happens to be my favorite bar in Newcastle, uh oh).  After a bit of soul searching, asking myself if I can handle letting pies leave the shop without me sampling them we decided to give it a go.  

Firstly, cherries are expensive and boy do you need a lot of them, 1kg to be exact.  If, like me, you cant be hassled with stoning 1kg of cherries, buy them ready frozen from your local supermarket.  This will save you a lot of time, a lot of effort and frankly, a lot of mess.  Once you've gotten over the sheer amount of cherries needed you can really appreciate this beautiful pie.  Sweet with just the right amount of tartness, I can only imagine the kind of heaven of this pie served warm with a scoop of amaretto ice cream.

Sweet Cherry Pie
(Makes one 9" pie)

1 batch of sweet pie crust - I like this one
1kg frozen cherries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1tsp cinnamon
1tbsp cornflour
1 medium free range egg, lightly whisked
1tbsp granulated sugar

Roll your pastry to 5mm thick and use to line your pie dish.  Place in the fridge while you make your filling.

Put the cherries into a large saucepan and cook over a medium heat for around 5 minutes until they are starting to break down and become juicy.  Once juicy combine the lemon juice with the cornflour and add to the cherries along with the lemon zest and cinnamon.  Continue to cook for about 1 minute until the mixture has thickened.  Set aside until completely cool.

Once cool pour the cherry filling into the prepared pie crust and decorate the top in your chosen method.  I went with a lattice but just go with your heart.  Brush the top of your pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.   Bake in a preheated oven (175C) for 40 minutes, serve warm.

13 Nov 2012

Apricot and Almond Brownies

The nights are getting darker, the days are getting shorter and the air isn't half getting colder.  Autumn is the season for comfort food, say no to salads, sushi and diets in favour of mince and dumplings, macaroni cheese and brownies.  Talking of brownies, these are a winner.  They tick all of the deep, dark comforting boxes with the addition of being sweetly studded with beautiful apricots, shining like jewels.  You can almost be forgiven for eating the entire tray and passing it off as one of your five a day... almost.

Apricot and Almond Brownies

250g good quality dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
350g light brown sugar
150g plain flour
4 large free range eggs
Tin of apricots in natural juice, each apricot quartered
Handful of slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 160C fan and line a 9x13" tin with baking parchment.

Melt the butter and sugar together in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not coming into contact with the water.  In the meantime whisk and eggs and sugar together in a jug and add to the melted butter and chocolate, mixing to combine.  

Add the flour to the brownie batter and fold it in until just combined taking care not to over mix.  Pour the batter into the prepared tin and place the apricot quarters in rows onto the mixture.  Sprinkle over a handful of almonds and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until just set.

Cool completely before slicing. 

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