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Posts tagged ‘Shortcrust Pastry’

Stilton, Pear & Walnut Galette


It’s February 6th, and my month of paleo is officially over. How did I do?

I don’t know how much weight I lost because we don’t have a scale in our house, but my jacket zips up now when it didn’t before (well, not since I had Maeve). My pre-pregnancy jeans that I bought ages ago at Old Navy are feeling a bit LOOSE – last month, by comparison, I was barely able to squeeze into them. I don’t look in the mirror and notice a significant change, but I think by next month I might.

Yup, we’re going to make this an official lifestyle change. No bread, no grains or legumes, no refined flours or sugars will be allowed in our house. I still cheat a little – we’ve made tweaks to the paleo diet that work for us. Saturdays are fair game for whatever we want to eat, for example, and we’ll have a bottle of wine or a few beers on a Saturday as well. I still eat oats for breakfast. And I still bake regularly.


That’s my downfall, you see, because I don’t want to bake things that are paleo friendly. This is not a paleo blog. And I like to bring goodies when I meet up with my mommy friends that are indulgent and fun (although I do throw in a healthy muffin or two to the mix). That is when the majority of my cheating happens.

I don’t mind, though. I think those small cheats are a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of sugar, fat, grain and gluten I’ve given up and I have been feeling amazingly good lately. Like, healthy and full of energy. Pushing the buggy no longer tires me out. I’ve been walking home from downtown instead of taking the bus. I bought a new pair of sneakers (my first pair in over six years) and have forgotten how good it feels to walk in a comfortable pair of footwear.

So, we’re stickin’ with this lifestyle change even though I sometimes just want a sandwich for lunch.


Or this tart…

I mean, galette (getting fancy here).

What is a galette? Well, I’ve already said it. It’s basically a fancy tart. There are some differences in galettes depending on where you’re from (French galettes and French Canadian galettes are different, the former being more of a cake or buckwheat crepe and the latter, more of an open-faced, rustic tart) but I tend to stick with the basic shortcrust version. It’s a great tart to make with leftover fruit that’s about to go off if you have a bit of extra pastry hanging around.

I made this galette with pear (deliciously sweet and juicy pears are available right now), Stilton (which was on sale last week and looked too good to pass up) and walnuts – a classic combination. Combined with the flaky, slightly salty shortcrust pastry, it made cheating on my diet totally worth it.


Stilton, Pear & Walnut Galette


1 recipe shortcrust pastry (you can find my recipe here)

3 ripe pears (any type will do)

250 grams whole or roughly chopped walnuts

125 grams Stilton, or any good quality blue cheese

1 egg, lightly mixed


  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (210 degrees Celsius, no fan)
  • Line a baking tray with parchment
  • Roll out shortcrust pastry to about 1/8 of an inch thickness and roll into a rough circular shape (if you want neat lines, use a pizza cutter to make a proper circle by cutting the rough edges)
  • Transfer the pastry circle to the lined baking tray
  • Peel and slice the pear, then spread the pieces out over the pastry (leaving about 1 1/2 inches at the edges, for folding)
  • Crumble the blue cheese over the pear slices, then top with the walnuts
  • Take the pastry edges and fold up and over the filling, making a raised edge. The majority of the filling will remain uncovered
  • Mix one egg in a bowl and lightly brush the egg over the crust
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is browned and bubbly
  • Serve warm with a side salad (also makes a great dessert)



Bramley Apple Crumble Pie


Another season, another seasonal fruit – it’s one of the things I love most about living in Ireland. Gone are the days of Wexford strawberries and sun-ripened blackberries; now we’re knee-deep in Bramley apples. At home we have Galas and Granny Smiths. Bramleys, not so much. I hadn’t even heard of them before moving. Now, though, they’re my go-to baking apple – a bit tart for eating on their own, but they make the most amazing crisps, pies, tarts and turnovers.

With an almost-three-month-old to care for I don’t really have that much time to bake – or even plan to bake. I’ve been meaning to start my Christmas cakes for several weeks now – maybe I’ll get them done next week. I’ve been meaning to make jelly for over a month – however I can’t find cheesecloth anywhere (although I am told that I can get muslin in the baby section at Tesco, so maybe I’ll make some next week). I’m pretty worn out, to be honest. Luckily, pie-making can be accomplished with little to no hassle, and since I’ve got so many lovely apples to work with right now, they’re taking centre stage in my pies.


The key to a good pie is simple. You need a good crust and a good filling (a revelation, I know). I’ve been making pies for a long time, but I’ve only been making them well since I began my career as a cook and had less time to fuss over them.

A good pie crust can be so simple – it needs very few ingredients, a tender but firm hand and time to chill and relax. People tend to be scared of shortcrust pastry, but they needn’t be. The best advice I can give is don’t listen to those who warn not to handle or overwork the dough. Why? Because you won’t work the dough enough, as a result, and it’ll be a crumbly, sandy-textured mess.


If you’re making shortcrust for the first time, work the dough enough to bring it together into a ball. If it doesn’t come together into a ball, you need either more moisture or you need to knead it a few times on a floured surface. If you overwork it the first time, you’ll know how much to hold back the next time. It’s all about practise.

For my Bramley Apple Crumble Pie, I added a little extra something to the filling. Highbank Orchard Syrup comes from County Kilkenny. I picked up a bottle at the Ballymaloe Garden Festival last August and have been using it in my morning oatmeal ever since. It’s got a really deep, dark apple flavour and is a great substitute for molasses, honey or maple syrup when baking. It’s also great for adding some depth to an apple pie, as you’ll find out if you make this recipe.


Bramley Apple Crumble Pie


For the crust:

2 cups AP flour

1 cup cold, cubed, unsalted butter

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup ice water (or less)

For the filling:

5-6 large Bramley apples (or Granny Smiths if you’re in North America)

1/4 cup AP flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 Tbsp Highbank Orchard Syrup

1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the crumble topping:

1/2 cup AP flour

1/2 cup cold, cubed butter

1/2 cup white sugar


  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees Celsius, no fan)
  • Either in a bowl or in your food processor with a dough blade, rub or cut the butter into the salt and flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Slowly add the water a bit at a time until you can form a ball with the dough. If you’re not using a food processor, mix the dough by hand, kneading it a bit, until it forms a ball – you may not need the entire 1/2 cup of water.
  • On a floured surface, knead the dough once or twice, divide it in half, shape each half into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight (or you can freeze it indefinitely at this stage).
  • Peel and thinly slice your Bramley apples. In a bowl, combine the apples with the orchard syrup, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat the apple slices and mix the ingredients evenly.
  • Roll out one disc of dough to roughly 1/4 inch thickness. Lay the sheet of pastry over a pie or tart pan and trim/crimp the edges. Pour the apple mixture over the pastry.
  • In a bowl, rub together the sugar, butter and flour with your fingers until you’ve achieved coarse crumbs. Spread the crumb topping evenly over the apples.
  • Put the pie pan on a cookie sheet in case the filling bubbles over the side. Place in the centre rack of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. The topping will be golden brown and the crust around the edges will be brown and flaky.
  • Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipping cream.


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