Friday, March 19, 2010

What becomes of the leftover bacon?

Well, there's an obvious answer to that question. And, much as I hate to be predictable, I had to make bacon and egg pie (p94) sometime. This recipe differs substantially from the way I usually make bacon and egg pie, which is to mix together lots of bacon, cheese and eggs, and pour the mixture into a pie dish lined with bought pastry. This works fine; in fact it's really tasty, but that's because it's a solid block of fat+protein+more fat. The Edmonds recipe at least has some veges in it, and no cheese.

In the interest of killing two recipes with one meal, I decided to make the flaky pastry (p80) myself. Looking at the recipe, I thought "holy crap, that's got a whole block of butter in it", but, other than deciding I better not make a habit of home-made pastry, I didn't think much more of it. I simply picked up a block of butter on my way home from work, and set out to make pastry for the first time.

Which was a mildly tramatic experience. In fact, the whole pie was a bit of a nightmare. What was it I said yesterday about being ok if I follow a recipe? Well, I'm glad I put in that qualifier: except for the 'Robyn moments'. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

To make the pastry, I split the butter into 4 equal parts. The first quarter was to be cut into the flour with a  knife, something I made a fair attempt at doing, but finally gave up, went old-school and rubbed it in with my fingers. Does anyone know if there's actually any difference in the result? As far as I know, it's just a hygiene thing, but when you consider it's going in an oven at 200 degrees, I figure any greeblies from my hands aren't going to survive.

When the butter was rubbed in, I added water, rolled it out, and began the next step: "dotting" another quarter of the butter over two-thirds of the pastry, then folding it over and rolling it flat again. This is where I found I had way too much butter. I'd dotted the butter pretty thickly and still had a heap of my quarter block left. Eventually I decided just to use less butter than the recipe - I couldn't see how you could use more.

Fold, roll, dot more butter... it was as I finished the second lot of dotted butter that I had a disturbing realisation. The kind that makes you want to slap yourself for being such an idiot: I'd read 200g butter and for some reason thought that was a full block. Uh, Robyn? A full block is 500g. No wonder I'd been having trouble finding room to dot it all on.

I grabbed my scales and weighed the remaining butter to see just how much more than 200g I'd used. Amazingly, there was exactly 300g left. So I did use only 200g, just not in quite the way I was supposed to.

Bypassing 'Robyn moment' #1 with a shrug, I rolled out my pastry to line the tin. The recipe states a 20cm tin, so I used my adjustable tin, which is 20cm wide, and adjusted it to a square. No worries. I greased the tin and lined it with the first layer of pastry. The filling was fairly simple: onion, mixed vege, bacon and eggs. There was supposed to be chutney too, but in 'Robyn moment' #2 I forgot about it until the top layer of pastry was on. Oh well.

Despite these hiccups, I was quite pleased with myself as I plonked the pie in the oven. I was cleaning up the kitchen when the realisation of 'Robyn moment' #3 came upon me. There was an odd hissing from the oven. I went to look and saw large blobs of egg dribbling from the bottom of the tin into a smoking pile in the bottom of the oven. A vague memory of the day I bought the tin drifted across my mind: I was with Mum at a car boot sale and I suspect she may have warned me about exactly this problem with adjustable tins. Note to self: Listen to my Mother.

I reached into the oven and pulled out the tinfoil I had lining the bottom of the oven, burning myself in the process. Luckily there was another sheet of foil in there, since, even after the egg was too solid to leak out, a steady drip of melted butter continued to escape from the bottom of the tin while the pie was cooking, smoking up the oven/kitchen/house and setting off the smoke alarm.

But after 40 minutes my pie was finally cooked. And, astonishingly, it looked good and was perfectly edible. The pastry was very rich and buttery, and nice and crispy on the top, if a little soggy on the bottom. I found the onion was a bit crunchy still; if I make this again, I'll probably cook the onions a little before putting them in. I had a second piece of pie for lunch today, and it was even nicer cold than hot out of the oven.

Cleanup was interesting: the dribbled butter had got into the warming drawer and all over my muffin pans, plus, in 'Robyn moment' #4, I'd taken my butter-dribbly tin out of the oven and put it on the stovetop. Meaning that I had butter all over one of my elements, which is less than ideal. Then there was the tin itself: When the pie had cooled, I removed it from the tin - and discovered the two halves of my tin were glued together with cooked egg and conjealed butter. Separating them was a bit of a mission but I got it done eventually.

So all in all, a bit disastrous. But I'm a 'glass half-full' person, so I'm counting the silver linings:
  1. My culinary contortions did eventually result in a perfectly good bacon and egg pie.
  2. I now know that my smoke alarm works.
  3. I learnt a valuable lesson about my adjustable tin.
  4. I used up my bacon!


  1. Very amusing update! It's always good to know that the smoke alarm works ;)
    The pie looks really good!

  2. That's true: good to know that Moby and I aren't going to die in a pastry-related fire.

    The pie is good! I'd feed you some if you were here.

  3. Love it! Glad it turned out ok. Rather than rubbing, i use a grater, and with cold butter it is quite gratable and way easier than rubbing in squares!

  4. I do the same as Emma, anything that say to rub the butter I grate and it works great Becs

  5. Good tip - i'll have to try it.


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