Tuesday 20 February 2018

Memorably different banana and whiskey pie

Banana and whiskey pie
Banana and whiskey pie
Yoghurt, walnut and pomegranate pie
Plum, almond and orange blossom crostata with sugared thyme
The Pie Project

A new book from two, super talented Australian cooks opens our eyes to the world of sweet pies. Served hot or cold, they are memorably different - a real talking point if you have family calling by over the weekend.

Banana and whiskey pie

Boozy caramel fruit, flaky pastry and creamy smooth filling: this is such an easy dessert. It takes a couple of separate elements and brings them effortlessly together to produce a great result. Feel free to cut the bananas any way you like, and substitute pineapple slices for the banana for another tropical version. - Kirsten Jenkins

Serves 6


2 sheets frozen butter puff pastry (total weight 330g/11½oz), thawed, and if needed, rolled to a thickness of 2mm (1/8in)

500g (1lb2oz) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

180g (6½oz) caster (superfine) sugar

2 tbsp whiskey

3 bananas, peeled and halved lengthways

3 tbsp chopped roasted hazelnuts, to serve


Preheat the oven to 200°F (400°F). Place the puff pastry sheets on top of each other in a 20cm (8in) pie dish and trim the edges leaving a 2cm (¬in) overhang. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beads (or uncooked rice or dried beans) and bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are puffed and golden. Remove the paper and baking beads.

Using a fork, prick the base to release any air, then bake for a further 5 minutes or until the base is golden and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Mix the cream cheese, vanilla and 40g (1ƒoz) of the sugar in a food processor until smooth.

Heat the remaining sugar with 2 tablespoons of water in a frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, or until it forms a golden caramel. Tipping the pan away from you, add the whisky, swirling to combine.

Carefully add the bananas, cut side down, and cook for 3 minutes until they are a dark golden colour. Turn over the bananas and remove from the heat.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the pastry base, then top with the bananas, extra caramel from the pan and the hazelnuts.

Yoghurt, walnut and pomegranate pie

Yoghurt, walnut and pomegranate pie

When we were coming up with the recipe list for this book, we had really clear ideas of what we wanted to see, but we also asked friends and family what they would expect to see in a book dedicated to sweet pies. They came up with some great ideas on flavours that otherwise may have slipped through the cracks, but also some interesting ideas on how they would like things to look. One night at dinner I asked a good friend Fiona this question and she answered with, "I'd like to see gold leaf on a pie." Well, gold leaf turned into silver leaf, and it went perfectly with this Middle Eastern-inspired cold pie. Of course, it's not essential, but the combination of the silver with the pomegranate jewels looks spectacular. - Kirsten Jenkins

Serves 6


20g (7oz) shortbread biscuits

100g (3½ oz) toasted walnuts

65g (2¼oz) unsalted butter, melted then cooled

2½ titanium-strength gelatine leaves

125ml (4 fl oz) pouring cream

80g (2¾oz) caster sugar

250g (9oz) plain Greek-style yoghurt

Silver leaf (optional)

Seeds from 1 pomegranate to serve

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses to serve


Pulse the biscuits and walnuts in a food processor to fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse again to combine. Press the crumb mixture into the base and side of a 17 cm (6¬in) loose-based fluted tart tin. Chill until needed.

Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat to just below boiling point, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Squeeze any excess water from the gelatine and add the gelatine to the cream mixture, stirring to dissolve. Cool to room temperature, then whisk in the yoghurt until smooth. Pour the cream mixture into the biscuit base and chill for 3 hours or until firm and set. Decorate with silver leaf (if using) and serve with pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses.

When we showed my family the first round of photographs from this book, they all pointed to this as their favourite. I think it's partly because it looks so accessible and easy, which it is. No rolling of pastry, and frangipane is so simple to master. I'm super-fussy when it comes to stone fruit, as my parents grew the most amazing fruit on their orchard when I was a kid. Plums remind me of our big old dehydrator whirring through the night, and waking up in the morning to beautiful sweet and sour semi-dried plums. While everyone else was having roll-ups at school, that's what my sisters and I were eating! - Phoebe Wood

Plum, almond and orange blossom crostata with sugared thyme

Plum, almond and orange blossom crostata with sugared thyme

Serves 12


435g (15½ oz) frozen Careme vanilla bean pastry, thawed, or other bought sweet shortcrust rolled to a thickness of 3mm (1/8 in)

180g (6½oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

240g (8½ oz) caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 2 oranges, plus pared zest of 1 orange

1 tbsp orange blossom water

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

3 eggs, plus 1 egg white

300g (10½oz) almond meal

2 tbsp cornflour

1kg (2lb 3oz) ripe plums, halved and stones removed

1 tbsp demerara sugar

6 thyme sprigs

Icing sugar, to dust (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a baking tray with baking paper and lay the pastry on top. Chill until needed.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and caster sugar until pale, reserving 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Beat in the orange zest, orange blossom water and vanilla, then the whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, beat in the almond meal and cornflour to combine.

Spread the frangipane mixture over the pastry, leaving a 1cm (ƒin) border all the way round. Fold in the edges to partially enclose. Top with the plums, and scatter with the demerara sugar and the pared orange zest.

Lightly whisk the egg white and dip the thyme sprigs into it, then coat them in the reserved tablespoon of caster sugar. Scatter over the crostata and bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the plums are soft. Once cool, dust with icing sugar, if desired.

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