Inspired by the Great British Bake Off – Chiffon pie

After last week, wherein I wasn’t sure I liked anything I’d seen on screen, I knew this would be a much easier week. Mr C is a fan of pastry, and there was bound to be something we liked.

The options this time:

  • Signature dish – Wellington
  • Technical challenge – Hand-raised pie
  • Showstopper – American sweet pie

I was convinced it was going to be a Wellington on my to-do list, but I’d forgotten about Mr C’s sweet tooth. The blueberry and raspberry pie made my Brendan was one of the early ones we saw, and he was entranced… until the key lime pie appeared. On the official recipes list, though, they only had the berry pie – or Chiffon Pie as it is so-called. I decided to go for that one, fully aware that it is crazy complicated and I was likely to screw it up. The thing with this is, even if it ended up as a pastry case full of raspberry and cream… no one would mind!

Step 1 – Ingredients! There were so many I had to photograph them separately.

I also had a significant problem with the pectin. First, I have never heard of it. Second, I couldn’t find it in the shops anywhere. I spent a whole morning looking for it and found nothing. Where do you get it from? In the end, with the motto mentioned above (pastry, raspberry, cream), I decided to go ahead without.

Step 2 – Make blueberry jam (minus pectin).

Step 3 – Pastry time. I didn’t think twice before plunging my hand into the flour and butter mixture. Go me!

Step 4 – For this bake, I had to purchase myself some baking beans. It really felt like I was becoming part of the baking fraternity by doing this. I’ve seen them for several years on the Bake Off but never thought I would ever have to blind bake something myself!

Step 5 – While the pastry was blind baking, I had to make the raspberry something-not-jam. So many fruits, so few unstained wooden spoons left.

Step 6 – The pastry looked nice enough, but left a pretty big gap to the tin… did I blind bake it wrong?

Step 7 – Meanwhile, I had to do weird things with the raspberry stuff – strain it, add gelatine, and then pour it into a tray to set. Also I had to make the chantilly cream (easily a heart attack in a bowl – double cream and icing sugar. Is there anything else required in the world?) and put it in a piping bag. I have not piped before. At this point, I was readily admitting that I had no idea what I was doing, but it was still good fun!

Step 8 – Assemble the layers. Blueberry in the bottom, raspberry and then cream. The recipe calls for raspberry & blueberry coulis plus cream swirly things with extra fruit on top to decorate. I ran out of fruit to make coulis and go on top (plus this was complicated enough), and my swirls… well…

When I showed it to Mr C, he laughed and said he could do better. I said he would have to have a go. So, he did. He was better than I was, managing a swirl pattern all the way round the edge, but also admitted it was harder than he’d expected.

Step 9 – Eat! You can see the blueberry leaking out, which I was expecting given the missing ingredient.

Conclusion – Overall, considering the complexity of the recipe, I’d hail this as a success. Clearly the presentation went all to pot but I was expecting that. The individual pieces were really nice, but I wasn’t sure they gelled well together. The pastry, in particular, didn’t really seem to fit with the desert, it felt more like a savoury pastry – and considering all the filling slipped off the pastry and left you eating it by itself, it wasn’t quite right.

I’m still proud of it, even though it’s not the best thing I’ve ever baked, but the more important part was the fun I had making it. Even when I wasn’t sure what I was doing, I just went with the flow. I also learned an important lesson about patience, as I was worried it was all too wobbly going into the fridge, but when it emerged, it was nice and set (except the underlying blueberry bit). Patience is a virtue!

8 thoughts on “Inspired by the Great British Bake Off – Chiffon pie

  1. Did you have ‘enough’ beans when you were blind-baking? Looks like it managed to shrink. Also, when did you ‘trim’ the pastry?

    I used all the beans I had. It seemed enough but obviously wasn’t. I trimmed it before.

  2. I’ve found that nearer 2 pots of beans works better – holds the sides out as well as the bottom down. Also baking it in it’s untrimmed state helps stop shrinkage, and if any does happen, no gaps are created – then trimming after you’ve done. It does mean that there’s not any leftovers for use on other projects though.

  3. Did you find that because you knew it was going to be wrong (because of the pectin) you were worried less about it and that’s why you had fun?

    Maybe you could always leave an ingredient out 🙂

  4. Hi Christine. You chose a complicated recipe to undertake, but you have the right spirit for a baker! Can I make a few suggestions that will help for this pie and for others.
    1. Pastry: I chose a strong, ‘sweetish’ pastry due to the depth of the pie as it had to hold its shape throughout with 2 substantial, depths of filling, while still allowing room for the swirls and final finish. All pastries when made should be allowed to rest wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge to allow the gluten to relax. Once rolled and placed in the tine, allow a good 1″ overhang of pastry all the way round. Press the pastry into the corners and crevices with a samll ball of pastry without tearing, which will give you clear definition). Place lined tin on a tray and put in fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow it to relax again to minimise shrinkage. There will be some nevertheless, hence the overhang. Take from fridge, pierce with a fork, line with non-stick parchment paper and add the beans (Personally I prefer dried rice which I use again and again). But the rice should come close to the top to keep the sides perfectly straight. Remove from oven after 15-20 minutes, and use the paper to lift the rice clear. (If you were making a lemon pie filling you would brush with raw eggwhite at this stage that will ‘seal’ in the liquid filling later, but not necessary with this recipe). Finish baking the shell adn should it puff up in a few places, press down gently with a piece of kitchen while still pliable in the oven. (the judges walk around to see all stages of our bakes, and you get marks for a well-defined pastry shell!).
    With all that chilling of pastry in fridge going on, use the time to make fillings in the correct order i.e. raspberry chiffon first as it will take longer to set, and then the blueberry jam which sets more quickly.
    2. Pectin: you now know where to buy it. but you can make jam without. Sugar is the main setting ingredient, and you can cheat a little if pressed for time, and use some cornflour. But this needs careful judgement as too much boiling will gaive you a hard-set rather than a soft-set jam. In this case you need something in between as it will be sliced. I did use pectin and also added a little cornflour for ‘security’ as working against the clock!
    3. By this time your shell will cool quickly. Use a loose-bottomed pie tine for careful removal as all its sides will be visible – another keen judgement factor! you followed the recipe in the right order with blueberry jam in first, into fridge to set and then receive the semi-set chiffon mix on top. Put in fridge to complete setting.
    4. Chantilly Cream: this is essentially sweetened cream. the secret is to have the mixing bowl very cold and the whisk, plus the cream. They should be in a fridge for at least 2 hours. This gives you the perfect result, rather than just fluffy, whipped cream. (This applies if you are using the bowl of an electric mixer with its whisk attachment or a hand bowl and whisk).
    Finally, as for piping, it is all about some practice. When I started baking soem 30 years ago, I determined to develop a good finish, so piping skills are a must. I bought some ‘Cookeen’ fat, whipped it and used it to pipe overlapping lines, stars, curlicues, lattice-work and so on. and you can use and reuse it for many weeks without its going off. Within a couple of months, you will have mastered it! hope this helps. But all the best to you and do keep baking. Best regards

  5. This is amazing advice, thank you so much Brendan!

    I did wonder about cornflour for the jam, but I don’t have the knowledge/confidence yet to start messing around with recipes too much.

    It’s fair to say the cream was a big hit, so I will have to try the pie again to improve on the pastry, the jam and the piping on top!

    Thanks again, and for the recipe too 🙂

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