Murcian Meat Pie Recipe

Like virtually all meat pies, these can contain just about any mixture of meat scraps or leftovers you have handy: ground or shredded meat, organ meats, sausages, ham, whatever’s around. The crust is a two-part affair. The top is made from roll-laminated dough, the bottom from short crust, puff pastry or puff pastry scraps. Short crust is the most common bottom crust, or so I understand, but do as you wish. Obsessing about ingredients is against the spirit of savory pies, which are all about making do with whatever’s available. Note that if you’re using pre-cooked shredded meat you’ll probably want some sort of a binder to hold the filling together, like a beaten egg. …

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Let’s Press On to Murcia

Murcian meat pies were the whole reason I got interested in this dough to begin with, and I still have some left. So why not do this thing? We’re going to get another big snow here in Louisville today, so some dinner pies will go well with the weather. Hit it!

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Making Sfogliatelle

Hey yo, howzitgoin’? It’s me your boy Paulie P again. Joey had another thing he had to go do, so he asked me over for the day, and just in time, too. Those sfwee-a-dells down there are pretty friggin’ sad if you ask me, pardon my French. Time for a pro to step in and take care of business, knowadimean?…

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“Roll” Laminating

Laminating via a roll — instead of a series of folds — is a very old technique. It likely predates folding lamination by several centuries. Introduced to Europe by the Arabs sometime around the high Middle Ages, it found favor in the more fashionable courts of Spain and Italy during the Renaissance. Over time it’s mostly faded from view, though it still hangs on in a few odd corners of the culinary world. I think it’s ready for a comeback.

Lamination by roll, just like lamination by folding, takes practice to truly master. I certainly haven’t mastered it, but now that I’ve more or less nailed down a formula and a process I think I’ll be doing it a lot more. I formulated and mixed the dough in such as way as to maximize gluten development. What results is an unusually soft yet elastic dough that can stretch even beyond what’s necessary for most roll-laminated projects. But that extra pliability makes it a lot more forgiving than other formulas I tried, and that’s always a nice feature.


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Almost There…

I initially thought these were the ones, but it seems that a.) I didn’t put enough filling in them and b.) my filling needs to be thicker. Also I think I need still more layers (I’m pretty sure I can stretch the dough a little thinner). Where are Jo, Jo, and Joan when I need them? Daddy has a pastry emergency!…

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Getting Better…

I’m zeroing in on a more promising dough formula. I still have some technique issues (I think I need to lubricate the layers a bit more) but the trajectory is in the right direction. Patience, please!…

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Ehem.

Lots going wrong here, but the problem at the center of it all is a lack of elasticity in my dough. This stems from the fact that it’s so darn rich. All the fat is lubricating the gluten (protein) molecules in the dough, preventing them from linking up with one another and forming a stretchy network. …

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Sfogliatelle Filling

This filling is mostly used for sfogliatelle riccia, but works nicely as a bake-in filling in other applications. It’s a touch on the fussy side, but the results are worth it. You’ll need:

2 cups whole milk
pinch salt
4.5 ounces (3/4 cup) semolina or 3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) durum flour
7 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
4 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) sugar
2 egg yolks
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) candied citrus peels or candied cherries, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


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Proto-Laminated Dough

The laminating technique that produces the dough for sfogliate riccia may be the world’s oldest. As you may have noted from the posts below, the method involves stretching a rich, flexible dough to paper-thinness, rolling it up into a log that’s about two inches across, then cutting it into slices. This method predates folding-style lamination by a minimum of 50 years, having been documented by the Belgian master chef Lancelot de Casteau in his book Ouverture de cuisine in 1603 (folded laminated dough was first mentioned in Le Pâtissier françois written by François Pierre de la Varenne in 1653). However it’s probable that roll-style lamination is much older than that.


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Blowing Up Cornbread

Reader Glenda writes to say that she recently made a mistake with her cornbread: she put in too much chemical leavening (exactly how much she doesn’t say). Yet the bread with the extra baking soda turned out virtually identical to the cornbread she makes with the normal, lesser amount. Why is that? she asks. It all has to do with gluten, Glenda. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Cornbread recipes typically call for lot of leavening. The reason: because corn flour has no gluten in it. In wheat flour doughs and batters, gluten creates an elastic batter that traps and holds little bubbles of CO2 and steam. As those bubbles continue to heat, they inflate, and the bread rises. A batter made from corn meal doesn’t have that elasticity, so its ability to trap and hold gas and steam is greatly diminished. Indeed, most of the gas and steam created during baking simply escapes out the top and sides. Yet it rises…why?


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