So I'm happy that I finally could participate in the pie challenge. Although 'pie' might be a bit of a stretch, as you shall see, I'm still happy that I tried a new recipe the best I could (even though the result was semi-successful at best...). I had fun and learned a few things (but have SO MUCH to learn still!).
(As usual, scroll to the bottom for the short version).
which called for an additional recipe:
Both recipes from The Professed Cook[...] by B Clermont, the 1776 edition. I can't find this edition I have as a pdf online but here's an 1812 edition on Google books.
It all sounded pretty straight-forward, and not too complicated for the novice, right? Well...
It started out with scalding and peeling of 400 grams of sweet almonds:
Those almonds were then turned into a kind of course almond meal with the help of two different kind of blenders/kitchen aids, because this stuff was tough! The recipe called for adding some egg white to prevent oiling, which I vaguely recall from other recipes involving almonds so I did that.
The result above. The meal lumped together but was otherwise quite even (those are lumps you see, not large pieces of almond). According to the recipe, you should beat the almonds in a mortar and the end result may have been very different Had I done that. Unfortunately I must admit that I don't own a mortar (I know, I know. I'm on the look-out for one but I'm too cheap to buy a new one and I've yet to find a suitable one in the thrift stores I trawl) so that option had to be ruled out.
Above is the almond paste after some time on the stove with sugar mixed in.It did indeed get a bit firm and pasty (you can see a little ball I kneaded with my hands to test the texture) but I started to get wary by this point...
It was pliable and knead-able, and you could flatten it with a rolling pin, as the recipe suggested, but it was so, so brittle. The smallest flattened pieces could carefully be picked up and put into a tin, but a piece large enough to line a larger pie tin? No way!
I had already decided to bake the crust in smaller, individual tins so that wasn't a biggie, but it was still pretty hard to force the paste into place in a somewhat aesthetically pleasing manner (and I didn't quite succeed with that either to be honest...).
The recipe suggested low heat for a short amount of time so I baked a test run on my oven's lowest setting (165 Celsius).
This is the result after a whopping 20 minutes. I think that was too long. It became hard and dense - too hard and dense, I think. I may have had a too thick layer of paste in the tins but a thinner layer would probably have made it impossible to get the crust out of the tin. I baked the rest of the batch for a shorter amount of time and they became a bit chewier, i.e. less hard, but a few of them broke fatally when I tried to remove them from the tins. Damned if you do...
Anyway, they still tasted nice. I mean, almonds and sugar, how could they not. But the consistency was way off - in no way could this paste of mine been served as a tart and pie where you cut and serve pieces. It was just too hard and dense.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not a great cook! I know when I mess up, but I don't know why and how I did so. Any suggestions?
Thankfully, the ice cream part of the recipe was a huge success in comparison!
I have never made ice cream the old school-way with ice and salt so it was a very exciting experiment! I don't own a sabotiere (no, really!) so I just used two bowls - one big plastic bowl with ice and salt and a small metal bowl with the ice cream ingredients - cream, sugar, orange flower water and egg yolks. These were mixed and heated onthe stove, then I let them chill over night and made the ice cream the day after.
Here it is when almost done. Like with so many things, at first nothing happened for a looong time, and then everything happened at once! Towards the end you had to stir like a madman to stop the ice cream to set at the edges of the bowl to make it somewhat smooth and even. I'm happy to say that I managed that pretty well. I served the ice cream when it was a bit more firm than soft serve.
Unfortunately, strawberry season is over here in Sweden so I had to use boring, watery imported strawberries, lightly sweetened.
The almond crust served mainly as a bowl at this point. You could take a bite out of it but no spoon or fork could best those things.
But the ice cream was yummy , yummy - how could it not be, it's cream! The orange flower water just gave a hint which was fine with me since I was afraid it would taste too much of perfume but it was fine. Lovely.
So the ice cream really saved this one. I'm a little bummed about the crust still, though, because I really liked the concept. I would like to serve something like this again, but I would use a different recipe for the crust in that case. Again: any pointers very welcome!
The short version
The Challenge: #5: Pies!
The Recipe: Tart of Strawberries and Ice Cream from The Professed Cook by B Clermont.
The Date/Year and Region: England, 1776.
How Did You Make It: For the crust, I mixed ground almonds and sugar in a pan on the stove which I then put into small pastry tins that I baked in the oven. The ice cream was made with the ice and salt method with two bowls.
Time to Complete: The crust: 1+ hour. The ice cream: About one hour.
Total Cost: Almonds, cream, strawberries and salt were ca $12.5/9,2 EURO. Sugar, eggs and orange flower water I already had on hand so a bit more if you have to buy those too.
How Successful Was It?: The crust wasn't too successful. The taste was nice but it was too hard to serve as a crust for a tart. The ice cream, on the other hand, was delicious!
How Accurate Is It?: The ingredients were fine, I think. The heavy cream may have been too fat for the 18th century - I think I've learned that our high-fat cream became possible after the separator was introduced but I may be wrong. The strawberries I used is of course of a modern variety that may have been very different to the types that were cultivated in the 18th century. I use dmodern kitchen appliances for most tasks involved, including a modern gas range, but I'm going to give myself some credit for making ice cream with salt and ice, dammit!
Source: The Professed Cook[...] (1776) by B. Clermont. An online 1812 edition is available courtesy to Google Books.