In-Oven Bread Hearth

Cool Kickstarter project here: a miniature cast iron bread baking enclosure that fits right inside your home oven. It strikes you as kind of an odd idea at first: if I want to do bread in a cast iron pot, why not just use my dutch oven? Until you realize that boules get a little tiresome after a while. With this Forneau Bread Oven you can expand your shape and texture horizons quite a bit. Nice idea, Strand Design. Happy to help get the word out!…

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What’s the difference between “spoiled” cream and “cultured” cream?

…asks reader Adam. Great question. The difference is that one term sounds more appealing than the other. In practical terms, they mean pretty much the same thing. However I’d hasten to add that if you’re planning to make your own cultured butter it’s always better to “spoil” your own milk or cream with a culture you know is safe rather than to take a chance on a dairy product that’s inhabited by God-only-knows what. For there are quite a few types of microbes capable of growing in milk or cream and not all of them are harmless.


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Making Murcian Meat Pies

It’s been three years since I happened upon pictures of these pies online, and it’s taken me that long to work up the courage to make them. Now that they’re here I wish I hadn’t waited so long, as it turns out they’re one of the few savory pies my young daughters will eat! I can understand the appeal. They’re rich and crispy on the outside, satisfyingly meaty on the inside, and on top of it all are just plain fun to have on your plate. As you’ve no doubt surmised, it’s the laminated tops that are the tricky bit. Everything below that pretty much follows standard meat pie rules. Here’s how they go:


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How long can this last?

This rolling-style lamination really has my attention these days — what a ball! However I heard even my 8-year old whispering to my wife yesterday: “Mama, daddy is using an awful lot of butter”. Mrs. Pastry has also threatened to make me do my own laundry from now on if I paint any more melted lard on the bedsheets. Well I’m having fun at any rate. Isn’t that what really matters?…

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Well THAT Was Interesting

11.9 inches of snow yesterday at Louisville airport, something we northerners like to call “a foot of it”. Back in my Chicago and Minneapolis days something like this would only be a small-to-medium deal. Here it’s literally a disaster. Roads closed, schools closed, even grocery stores and gas stations are closed. Some parts of the state got a full 20 inches, which is just about unprecedented. Being one of the only families on the block with multiple snow shovels and a jumper kit, we Pastrys have been busy. Hope to return to baking shortly. …

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Bi-Cultural Pie

Murcian meat pie is a piece of bakery that’s literally split between two cultures. The top is made from roll-laminated dough, which as I discussed last week was invented by Arab pastry makers sometime before the Renaissance (exactly when isn’t well established). The bottom crust is more like a traditional European pie, made of short crust. …

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A Short History of Pie

Murcian meat pies are relics from time when pie wasn’t a food so much as a strategy: a way to preserve bits of food that you might otherwise lose as a result of spoilage. Pies were the original Tupperware: handy, portable containers you could eat from. Notice here that I said eat from. For early pies weren’t meant to be eaten crust-and-all. That’s newfangled modern thinking…but more on that in a moment.


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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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Filed under:  Pastry, Sfogliatelle | 28 Comments