I’m an enthusiastic eater of pastry, but an extremely incompetent pastry chef. My pastry cheffing is generally a botch job, squeezing together sudden unexpected fissures, flopping uneven skins over pastry tins – and swearing as they tear in the wrong places, sidling up to the chiller cabinet and smuggling ‘Jus-Rol’ into my basket (embarrassed not only to be the kind of woman who can’t make pastry, but to be the kind of shopper buying products with misspelled names).
I don’t know whether it’s my science that’s wrong, or my art. I know there is science to pastry-making (for my grandmother the final proof of the impossibility of the climate in Malaya was that she had to make her pastry there with her hands in the fridge). But my guess is that there’s also something about panache and instinct and patience and careful application of muscle that I just don’t have.
But I think – as with so many things – honey may have saved me. I read about honey pastry and I reckoned that it might be a more supple, more forgiving kind of pastry. And of course it would taste great so even if I ended up with my usual Frankenstein scene of torn patches I could bake them up and eat them separately.
So this was my sweet treat for Sunday lunch today:
For the honey pastry:
5-6 tablespoons milk
1.5 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2.75 cup flour
mix milk and honey; dissolve salt in liquid. Cut butter into flour and blend into pea-sized clumps. Pour in the liquid and mix until dough is uniform. Divide dough in half, roll out and cut to fit pan. Prick bottom with form and bake at 230 degrees for 8 minutes.
For the filling:
4 medium apples
0.75 cup honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter to dot on top
When the pastry case is baked, add the filling and roll out (yes, just like that – really, it didn’t tear at all!) the remainder of the pastry for the lid. Crimp round the edges and make a vent in the top. Use any spare pastry for a creative decoration. Bake in a 230 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown (remembering that the honey in the pastry will make it brown sooner than normal pastry will).
Elizabeth Gowing is the author of Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo