Monday, 4 April 2011
It's not often I get unsolicited praise about anything I do. I put that down to not doing much that well; but I muddle by. Today the missus, without the slightest prompting from me, heaped lashings of praise on my Sweet Potato Pie. (Personally I prefer it with cream.).
It was so scrummy, the pastry was fantastically light and the filling - well words could not describe the transports of joy it sent her into! It looked pretty damn good when I took it out of the oven at 8:30 this morning.But this: I'm told I'll have to do it for our dinner party on Saturday.
Given the reception it received, I feel it's my solemn duty to hand on the recipe details to you, dear reader(s). So here it is Sweet Potato Pie . You'll find the recipe at the link.
I know previously I've written out the recipe, but I'm feeling lazy and in any case why replicate?(said the last surviving couple). No, rather than take you through it line by line so to speak, I thought I take a leaf out of the literary critics' book and give you a general overview,a synopsis,if you will, of the dish. Imagine me as Frank Kermode critiquing Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost".
The first thing that strikes you about this dish is the absolutely unctuousness of the sweet pastry. Detailed contextual analysis points to a century old source - a time when teeth whitening and colesterol were unknown. The pastry's melting sweetness is based on a considerable helping of both superior unsalted butter and caster sugar: their flavours held together by some plain flour, an egg and a splash of milk.
One should note that the chef does not rush to display his genius, but wraps the delicate pastry mix in cling film and allows it to settle in the dark, silent coldness of a fridge while he prepares the custard.
In the next chapter the main protagonist is a ruddy cheeked sweet potato, which finds itself marooned in the fruit bowl in the dining room after a rather unsatisfactory affair with a banana. The dramatic tension continues with the chef immediately plunging the unsuspecting sweet potato into a large pan of water which he brings to the boil and maintains for some 40 to 50 minutes.
Some critics have complained about the "unnecessarily violence" at this point. However, I can only quote Escoffier: "To make the omelette, the eggs to crack you must."
After its "trial by scolding" the sweet potato is skinned and mashed in a large bowl. Again, a number of writers have commented on this aspect of the procedure - "Not suitable for family cooking" - opined one reviewer.
However, the tension is successfully released with a touching meeting between the now rather mashed up vegetable and a significant other, large knob of butter. These two are whisked away into a smooth pulp and are joined by the remaining dramatis personae in this culinary "pot-boiler". Viz., the Egg Twins, Caster Sugar, making a welcome return, Nutmeg, fresh and grated with his spicy companion ground Cinnamon and Vanilla, of the essence.
When ingredients are brought together like this, in the hands of a master chef, the result is quite spectacular.
But the drama is not yet played out. The Pastry that came in from the Cold reappears, is unwrapped and gently rolled out to be placed in a 8 inch baking tin, its edges kissing o'er the lip of the tin.
Expectantly we awaits the final act, a scene of touching sweetness as the assembled players ( sweet potato, caster sugar, butter, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla) pour, as one, into the tin covering the sweet pastry with an orangey glow.
Little remains to fill out the action. The oven has been pre-heated, and after the scorching earlier drama, a modest 180C/Gas Mark 4 awaits the pie and its contents. During the 50 or 60 minutes of the final act the pie rises up like a firebird only to subside once it has been removed from the oven, its readiness tested with a small knife which comes away cleanly.
The end. Except for you, dear reader, the anticipation of very delicious sweet, on its own or with rich clotted cream on the side. Bon appetit.