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Create Food : Becoming a pastry person


My Grandmother was a pastry person. Even when she went blind she could make, by feel alone, wonderful pies. Every Sunday teatime the family gathered for meat-and-tattie pie, custard pie (the secret to which was, apparently, the now unobtainable ‘steri’ milk), apple pie, rhubarb pie and often a guest pie as well. She was not a cake person. The legend is that even the ducks refused to eat her sponge cake.

And so another childhood myth* became an adult belief of mine: you are either a sponge or a pastry person, the difference being a lot to do with how warm your hands are. I rock sponges. Pastry? Ha! There is a fine line between pastry and homemade play-doh and I seem to cross it everytime. I am a cake person.

Or I was until Tesco’s forced me to rethink. My husband eats neither Christmas pudding or our family fall back Sticky Toffee Pudding ( only ever from this manufacturer). So he gets to pick his own Christmas dinner desert. This year: Bakewell Tart. Only Tesco substituted apple pies. His mouth said,”Apple is fine” but his face said, “Awh, but I wanted Bakewell..”.

So I decided. I believe that in life you can be and do who and what you want to be. You just need to learn how. And if learning how takes a while, then it takes a while and you just have to want to be/ do enough to stick at it. And how hard can becoming a pastry person be? Especially when you don’t tell anyone you are trying and have apple pies as back up?

Not very at all. Especially with the Internet as your secret Kitchen Elf. Turns out the secret is refrigerating the pastry. This receipe translated into individual tarts wondefully (although I agree with all the commenters who said they would add almond essence.) These tins from Lakeland ( which I had unexplicably bought many months earlier when I was still a cake person and which were still in the packet) released the tarts perfectly.a whole word has opened up to me just because I took a few minutes to read the expert non- grandmotherly advice. Now, what next? Lemon, Treacle, Key Lime..?


* Other childhood myths emanating from the same source were that if you eat sugar from the sugar bowl you will get worms and that if you walk down Red Rocks ( a local shortcut lane to the park) the bogey man will get you. I busted those myths out some years ago so why this one survived I don’t know!


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Diane Hock #

    These look gorgeous and I’m glad that they tasted as good! What a great way to shatter that pastry-making ceiling!

    January 14, 2013
  2. Alison Reeves #

    Oh, well done Helen! I have always been more of a cake than pasty person. However just to burst the myth my Nan (Dad’s Mom) was a great pastry and cake maker. Her pastry literally melted in your mouth (very short as my Mom would say) and her Victoria Cake was a site for sore eyes – very tall! We used to visit her most Saturday afternoons – she was a great fan of the wrestling on TV so my memories are of watching wrestling and eating cakes and pies that she had made for the occasion! She was a real ‘Black Country’ person and a real character. My Mom was very competitive with my Nan (they didn’t always see ‘eye to eye’) and I’m sure this spurred my Mom on to work hard at being good at pastry and cake!

    I feel a bit guilt today as we are going to friends for dinner and I promised to bring pudding. I’ve ended up buying something that I know we will all enjoy – partly through lack of time, lack of confidence and I have a bad cold so don’t feel like cooking, But I do think I could make a much bigger effort in the future!

    February 2, 2013

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