almond and cherry custard piePosted: September 20, 2013
Welcome to pie-day Friday!
Not sure why, but I’ve been hankering after desserts featuring set custard for a while now. Possibly my recent talk of jellies has made me think of other smooth yet jiggly puddings, or it could be that there seems to have been a lot of discussion of trifle round and about, perhaps kicked off by this very brave attempt to emulate Rachel from Friends’ tradition trifle/cottage pie recipe – http://www.laughfrodisiac.com/4/post/2013/09/veganmofo-veganizing-friends-rachels-english-trifle.html
Whatever the reason, there was nothing to stop me from making a custard dish of some description, as I had both corn flour and custard powder, along with soya milk, sugar and a variety of flavourings. As usual, I had a good nosey at other people’s ideas and was inspired by Isa’s pastry recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen – http://www.theppk.com/2009/09/press-in-almond-crust/
I made up a batch of that, and since the Pyrex casserole dish I was using as a pie dish only measured 8 inches across I had some pastry left over for making some mini pies too. Having gone renegade already, I further messed with the recipe by using water instead of almond milk, as I didn’t have any. If it had occurred to me that I would shortly be opening a litre of soya milk I could have used some of that instead, but I’m still a bit ill, so not thinking that logically.
It seems like a long time since I made anything with a press-in crust, have to say I messed around with it a bit, trying to get it evenly spread and I don’t think I did that good a job, although the clear Pyrex was useful for holding it up to the window to see where light came through more.
That was baked for 15 minutes at 180/350, and while that was going on I set about improvising a custard.
Lately my custards haven’t been doing what I want them to. Fairly recently I tried to make a German-style lemon buttercream to go on a carrot cake and ended up with lemon curd instead, and my last attempt at a set custard came nowhere near the sort of jiggly bounce I was after, so I really went to town on the cornflour this time, and added in some firm tofu for good measure.
Although there was a certain charm about the idea of a simple vanilla and almond custard pie, I did think it might be boring to eat a whole one, so I rootled through the cupboards and found a weeny 42g jar of morello cherry jam, and a packet containing about 60g dried sour cherries. I spread the jam around the base of the cooked pie crust and sprinkled the cherries over before embarking on the custard.
Vanilla Almond Custard recipe:
1 pint of soya milk
7 tablespoons cornflour
about 1/3 cup sugar (yeah, I mixed cups with imperial measures. Whatcha gonna do about it??!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
200g firm tofu
put the cornflour, tofu and about 1/5 of the soya milk in a blender and whizz until the tofu is incorporated and you have a thick cream.
Put the rest of the soya milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat, and whisk in the tofu-cornflour cream and the vanilla and almond flavourings, and whisk until very thick. It won’t take long, so on no account stop stirring or it will catch and/or go lumpy.
Pour over the pie crust.
At this point there are two choices. You can leave it to set, possibly having sprinkled some toasted flaked almonds over the top for decoration and texture, or you can do what I did, which was stick it, and most of the tiny pies into the oven. I had it on a very low heat, but when I looked after 20 minutes the almonds hadn’t changed colour so I whacked it right up to near the top heat for ten minutes to get them looking a bit more crunchy.
For comparison, I filled one of the tiny pies with just the custard and allowed it to set without baking. It did taste pretty good, I would strongly consider going that route in future, as I’m not sure the baking added anything to this sort of pie. However, an unbaked custard would undoubtedly stop the almonds from being crunchy more quickly, so it might be something that would work best being made and served on the same day, whereas there’s no way I’m going to get through a whole custard pie this weekend… although, having just tasted it, I might do that quite easily after all. Lovely thick vanilla-almond custard, juicy and tart cherries and buttery pastry. I know I shouldn’d say this as I made it but it’s really good!