It’s easy to get stuck in a baking rut and keep making similar things using your favourite ingredients. Every once in a while it’s nice to ask someone else for inspiration – this week I asked Mr CC to pick ingredients for me to use and he chose pecans and maple syrup. So obviously, it had to be pecan tart (nope, I won’t call it pie – sorry!)
I know most people would call this ‘pecan pie’ but I really struggle calling something ‘pie’ when it doesn’t have a pastry lid. It breaches all that is right in this world to misname baked goods in such a way. The Oxford English Dictionary defines pie as “a baked dish of savoury or sweet ingredients encased in or topped with pastry” – note the “encased in” bit – the pastry must seal in the filling. I’m disappointed that the OED allows anything topped with pastry to be called a pie but I’ll leave that battle for another day. So to sum up – this is a TART and not a PIE. Now that that can of worms has been successfully opened I feel a lot better....I’m no psychic but I sense this may lead to some comments....
The pastry interested me in this recipe as it didn’t use egg; normally my short crust pastry always uses egg yolk. It produced a drier, more biscuity pastry which contrasted well with the incredibly rich and sticky filling. The filling sets firm but, while the top sets hard, the inside remains soft and moist.
I served it at room temperature with thick cream but it would also be lovely warm with ice cream.
You’ll notice in my ingredients list I used half golden syrup and half maple syrup – you can easily use all of one if you wish.
Homage to the dawn of computer games...here is a pecan tart pretending to be a pacman:
For the pastry:
200g plain flour
115g unsalted butter, cold
2 tablespoons caster sugar
For the filling:
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g light muscovado sugar
70g golden syrup
70g maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
130g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
Start by making the pastry: place the flour and butter in a food processor and blitz until you have breadcrumbs. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour by hand.
Stir in the sugar and enough water to bring the crumbs to a stiff dough. I pulsed the mix in my food processor and found that 3 ½ tablespoons of cold water was enough.
Form the pastry into a fat disc and wrap in clingfilm, refrigerating for 20 minutes.
Roll the pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm (no extra flour needed) until it is large enough to line a 23cm round loose bottomed tart tin.
Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.
Chill for a further 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
Cover the pastry with baking paper and weigh down with baking beans.
Cook for 10 minutes then remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Put to one side while you make the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
To make the filling place the butter, sugar, golden syrup and maple syrup into a saucepan and gently heat, stirring all the time, until the ingredients have melted and combined.
Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Stir in the chopped pecans.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case and make sure the nuts are evenly distributed.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the filling is set. Mine took 35 minutes.
Leave to cool in the tin, on a wire rack.
Serve either at room temperature with thick cream or warm with ice cream.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.