Best-Lawyer-Friend (the BLF) is doing it tough at the moment. She recently shucked off the mad mad world of corporate law and its absurd demands on her time* in order to occasionally make it home for dinner, witness daylight hours and see her own beloved, the adored Mr Awesome. Great, you may say, doesn’t sound tough, sounds sensible and generally better. And it would be, were it not A Double Election Year. Mr Awesome – who brings cups of tea unbidden (oh, the bliss), who can soothe the BLF in her times of woe, who can make damn fine mojitos in the press of a blender-button, and who can whisper the secrets of men to the small person – is a policy advisor to a state politician. For all intents and purposes, he will be but a figment of the BLF’s imagination for the next six weeks. On the upside, she can come to faux-farmville to mourn the temporary loss of Mr Awesome, and we can feed her things like this:
50 grams of dessicated coconut
50 grams of almond meal
250 grams of plain flour
175 grams of unsalted butter, not chilled but not very soft either, chopped into ~1cm cubes
50 grams of caster sugar
Whizz the coconut, almond meal and flour in your food processor to combine.
With the processor running, drop in the cubes of butter, then the sugar and lastly the egg.
Continue to whizz until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured bench. Knead very briefly, just to bring together.
Shape the dough into a disc (so much easier for later rolling), wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, butter your pie dish (glass or metal-with-removable-base are both fine)
After chilling, remove from the fridge and unwrap.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, rolling until the dough is big enough to fit your dish and ~3-4mm thick.
Line your pie dish with the dough, trimming the top edge neatly. Remember, the dough will shrink a little with baking, so you can leave an overhang if you like.
Return the lined pie dish to the fridge and chill for at least half an hour.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).
Line your chilled pastry with baking paper and weigh down with baking beads/rice.
Blind bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the beads/rice and paper and bake for a further 5-7 minutes, until crisp and golden.
Set aside to cool.
The bottom layer is lemon curd –
75 grams of unsalted butter, chopped
50 grams of caster sugar
150 mls of lemon juice (~3 lemons), strained
zest of 3 lemons, very finely chopped/grated
Set up a sieve over a medium bowl, resting in another bowl of iced water.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat.
Add all the other ingredients and stir over low heat until thickening. Do not boil or you will scramble the eggs.
When the curd coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly, take off the heat immediately and pour through the sieve into the prepared bowl.
Allow to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.
The next layer is pastry cream –
2 egg yolks
1/4 of a cup of caster sugar
20 grams of cornflour, sifted
20 grams of plain flour, sifted
300 mls of full fat milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
20 grams of unsalted butter
~80 mls of thickened cream
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour, flour and two tablespoons of the milk in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
Put the rest of the milk in a medium non-stick saucepan and bring it to the boil on the stove.
Slowly whisk the boiling milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking until completely incorporated.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a low heat for about 4-5 minutes until thick and smooth. Taste as you go – the mixture should be thickened and not floury to taste. Cook a little longer if it tastes too floury.
Stir in the vanilla extract and butter.
Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm, pressing the clingfilm directly onto the surface to prevent a skin forming.
Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Whisk the cream into soft peaks. Fold into the cooled pastry cream.
To make up:
Spread about 1/2 a cup of lemon curd (more will do no harm at all) in the bottom of your cooled pie shell. Spread this with the pastry cream. Top with a punnet of fresh blueberries and dust with icing sugar. Chill for an hour or so to set. Take out of the fridge a little while before serving, just to take the chill off and bring out the full flavour of the blueberries. Slice generously and serve.
A crunchy, buttery crust with a hint of coconut (again, more coconut in the pastry and less almond meal wouldn’t hurt at all), tangy curd, velvety pastry cream and juicy blueberries. Heaven, heaven, heaven. Even the beloved was mighty impressed (and more than a little peevish that I nabbed the last piece).
*I tell you, fellow shift-workers, we may complain about our late/earlies, the rotating roster, the grimness of night duty, but we do our work and leave. Not so for the BLF, frequently chained to her desk until the wee hours of the morning then expected back, freshly besuited, for the start of the next day. No excuses, no time off in lieu, no flexi-time, no overtime pay, no glory. And all in heels. Give me eight hours of dodging bodily fluids, fluffing pillows and evicting annoying visitors any day.