'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross


 
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns
'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns

Hi! I’m just popping in super quick to drop this recipe here in time for the lead up to Easter! I was obsessed with how the Dark Chocolate Cardamom Hot Cross Buns turned out, so I wanted to develop a recipe for a more traditional fruit recipe too, just so that we have some options, you know? I’m equally as obsessed with these ones as am the chocolate ones, so would have a really hard time deciding between them!

I riffed on the chocolate recipe - the dough is perfect and soft, so I ditched the cocoa, and heavily spiced the dough. In New Zealand, we use a mixed spice blend (as opposed to allspice which is actually a spice of its own) that you can buy in the supermarket. I haven’t seen anything like it here, so I came up with my own mix of spices, which I actually prefer a little more, as I was able to control the ratio of spices within the dough a little more easily. I went for a big hit of the regular suspects - cinnamon and nutmeg, then rounded it out with some ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, allspice, and coriander. If you don’t have all of these spices, feel free to sub one for another, but I would make sure to include the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in there if you can!

I also snuck in an additional step - soaking the fruit before incorporating it into the dough. For this recipe, I soaked the dried raisins and currants in some strong Earl Grey tea, which helped to soften them and hydrate them so that they weren’t chewy in the dough. You can’t taste the tea in the finished product, but it just adds another dimension of flavour. Because the dough is quite soft, and the fruit is also quite soft, I prefer to incorporate it by hand once the dough has finished rising, in order to avoid it all getting squished along the edges of the bowl. I shaped these into 20, rather than the 12 buns I did with the chocolate version. This gave me slightly smaller buns, which I arranged 4x5 on a lined baking sheet - either works perfectly, so you can choose your size depending on what you are feeling!

I then finished them off with what I now consider the only way to do a cross on a hot cross bun - with a custard cross. I followed Ima’s lead, scoring the dough before it went into the oven, and then piping the crosses on once they had had 20 minutes in the oven, which makes the scored lines open up, giving you perfect wee gaps in which to put the pastry cream. Once the buns are fully baked, I brushed them with a vanilla bean syrup, to give them a perfectly shiny finish. Whether you make these or the chocolate ones, you’re going to have a great time. Happy Easter Baking! xx

A few wee tips:

  • I made these buns into 20 - arranged 4 across and 5 down. If you would like them slightly larger, follow shaping instructions for the dark chocolate cardamom buns.

  • I like to make the pastry cream while the dough is doing its first rise, then place it into a piping bag with a clip both above the tip and above the pastry cream, then cool it directly in the piping bag which helps to prevent a skin from forming

  • I did these all in one day, but the first rise can absolutely be done overnight if you wanted to have them first thing in the morning - the second rise post shaping may take a little longer.

  • The dough for these will seem a little softer than you are used to - I jammed a whole lot of milk and butter into them, which makes for the most lush, soft bun. Just trust me on this one - it makes it easy to roll them too!

  • I kneaded the fruit in by hand toward the end. It will feel really weird and wet squishy to start off with, but just keep kneading and incorporating - you can add a teeny bit of flour to the surface if you need, but it will all eventually incorporate. I like to pat the dough into a rectangle, scatter the fruit over the top, then kind of fold it up into a package and start kneading from there.

  • If you don’t like Earl Grey Tea (you can’t really taste it, but some people just don’t like it), you can soak the fruit in some warmed orange juice, or strong black tea. They would be good soaked in chai too!

 

 

'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross

- Makes 20 buns -

Pastry cream cross adapted from Ima

Bun Dough
300g strongly brewed earl grey tea (see notes)
200g raisins, golden raisins, or sultanas
50g dried currants
340g whole milk, lukewarm
120g sugar, divided
3 tsp active dry yeast
590g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross
40g corn starch
85g sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
400g whole milk
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Vanilla Bean Syrup
60g water
50g Sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
tiny pinch of salt

 

- PROCESS -

BUN DOUGH

Place the raisins and currants in a medium bowl, and cover with the hot Earl Grey tea. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain thoroughly - I like to transfer them to a sieve and leave them to drain while I make the dough.

Place the lukewarm milk, 15g of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining 105g sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and coriander, and mix well to combine.

Add the milk mixture and vanilla bean paste to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft. 

Turn out the dough onto a work surface (I do not find that there is a need to flour, but add some if needed), and knead in the fruit by hand (see notes). It will take longer than you expect but the fruit will eventually incorporate into the dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. While the dough is proofing, make the pastry cream.

 

VANILLA BEAN PASTRY CREAM

In a medium bowl, whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and whisk well to combine.

In a medium saucepan, place the milk over a low heat until just shy of a simmer.

Whisking constantly, pour about half of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, then add back into the saucepan. Whisking constantly, cook until thick. Add the butter and whisk to combine.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip, and a clip just above the tip to prevent any leakage. Twist the piping bag closed, or secure with another clip, and store in the fridge until needed.

ASSEMBLY

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and weigh the dough. Divide the weight of the dough by 20, and divide the dough into 20 equal sized pieces. Roll each tightly into a ball, then arrange evenly on the baking sheet, in a 4 by 5 arrangement, leaving a little space between - don’t space them too far apart if you want them to join together in the oven to give the ‘classic’ hot cross bun look.

Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until puffy and the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Using a sharp paring knife or razor blade, score crosses in the buns.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and pipe the pastry cream in crosses in the holes provided by the scoring.

Return the buns to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden brown, or until they register 200°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar syrup.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before brushing on the sugar syrup (recipe below).

SUGAR SYRUP

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then leave to stand until ready to use.

Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave briefly before eating. Serve with butter.


'Traditional Style' Fruit Hot Cross Buns with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Cross. Soft, fluffy, spiced buns are filled with raisins and currants soaked in earl grey tea, before being shaped into buns, and finished off with a vanilla bean pastry cream cross, which is a total game changer. These are an elevated version of the traditional hot cross buns, and will be your new go to Easter baking treat. #hotcrossbuns #pastrycreamcross #fruithotcrossbuns

Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling


 
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard
Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard

I have written and re-written this first wee bit of my post. Nothing I can seem to think of even comes close to how I am feeling right now - a very weird mixture of feelings. Huge sorrow for the Muslim Community back in New Zealand is the main one. I am just so, so sorry that these people came to New Zealand seeking safety, and we weren’t able to provide that. New Zealand is their home just as much as it is mine. There is also a sense of pride and hope - seeing how our leader has reacted, and seeing the country band together to support a community always reminds me why I am so proud to come from the country that I do. I really do hope that tragic events like this cause our country and the rest of the world to take a good hard look at the underlying racism and white supremacy issue that is so, so prevalent in New Zealand, whether we like it or not. We are ALL responsible for moving forward and for taking responsibility, and to stand in solidarity and unity to provide support to those whose rights may be in more danger than our own. We are all human, we all deserve to have the same rights. I believe speaking up is much more important than staying silent - even if it is just my voice adding to the chorus of people showing support. This isn’t about how we are affected individually - it is how we are going to unite as a whole to provide support.

Once again, I turn to food as my way of showing love and support. Today’s recipe is one that I made a while back - it is a riff on a recipe from one of my favourite books, Making Chocolate, which is from the makers of Dandelion Chocolate, an amazing small batch chocolate factory in San Francisco. They released their book last year, and I have been slowly making my way through it - each recipe I make seems to quickly become a new favourite (the chocolate spread I seem to put into everything is from this book!).

I had been eyeing their cocoa nib buns up for a long time, and when I finally got around to making them, I couldn’t help but riff on them slightly. I stuck to my theory of “if you can infuse it, you can add earl grey to it”, and as per usual, it worked out very, very well. I added ground earl grey tea leaves to the dough, then infused the gooey chocolate custard filling with earl grey, which is then covered with a cocoa nib and brown sugar mixture, before being rolled up and cut into buns. These are made in a muffin tin, which causes the top to pop out slightly as they are baking, which makes them super cute. The chocolate custard filling bakes up to be gooey and perfect, with a lovely crunch from the cocoa nibs. The buns are then brushed with butter, and, while still slightly warm, rolled in a cocoa nib and earl grey sugar. The result is one of the most decadent, delicious buns I have ever had - I am obsessed with the chocolate custard filling, and the perfect spiral on these wee things.

A few wee tips:

  • The Dough needs an overnight rise, and the custard ideally needs to cool overnight, which makes these the perfect breakfast pastry.

  • Good quality chocolate is super important here - I used a 70% bar, which I chopped up.

  • If Earl Grey isn’t your thing, you can leave out the tea in the dough, and skip the infusing step custard and just use 150g of whole milk. Leave the tea out of the finishing sugar, and add 4 teaspoons of cinnamon.

 

 

Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling

- Makes about 9 buns -

Recipe adapted from ‘Making Chocolate’ by Dandelion Chocolate

Brioche Dough
3g (1 tsp) active dried yeast
42g (3 Tbsp) Sugar
110g (1/2 cup) warm water
1 large egg
110g (1/2 cup) heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
385g (2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
5g loose leaf earl grey tea, finely ground
3 Tbsp Unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Earl Grey Custard Filling
220g whole milk
10g loose leaf earl grey tea
115g chopped 70% chocolate
1 large egg
50g sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt

Cocoa Nib Filling
110g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
60g (1/2 cup) cocoa nibs

Earl Grey Sugar
200g Sugar
30g (1/4 cup) cocoa nibs
pinch of salt
5g loose leaf tea

- PROCESS -

BREAD DOUGH

Place the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and vanilla bean paste.

Place the flour, salt, and earl grey tea in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the yeast and water mixture, the cream and egg mixture, and the melted butter, and mix on low until the dough comes together.

Increase the mixer speed and mix on medium for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the edges of the bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a ball, and then lightly grease either the mixing bowl, or a large bowl, and place the ball of dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise overnight in the fridge.  

CHOCOLATE EARL GREY CUSTARD

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to just shy of a simmer. Add the loose leaf tea, cover, and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a spoon to get as much flavour as possible from the tea. Clean the saucepan, then re-weigh the milk and top up to 150g if needed. Warm again to just shy of a simmer.

Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler, or in 30 second increments in the microwave. Set aside.. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt.

Add about half of the hot earl grey milk mixture to the egg mix, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth, then return to the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the milk mixture from the heat and pour over the melted chocolate, whisking to combine, and finishing with an immersion blender if needed.

Place in an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the custard. Place in the fridge to chill overnight.

ASSEMBLY

Lightly grease a muffin pan with butter or non stick cooking spray. Combine the light brown sugar and cocoa nibs in a medium bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a rectangle 13”x18” (33x45cm).

Spread the cooled chocolate custard evenly over the surface of the custard using an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the sugar and cocoa nib mixture, and press down lightly to adhere.

Starting at a long end, roll the dough up into a tight spiral log. Cut into 2” pieces using a sharp knife. Place each piece into a cavity in the muffin pan.

Lightly cover the muffin pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c.

Once the buns are risen, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan once to ensure even browning.

While the buns are baking, place the cocoa nibs and loose leaf tea in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Sift through a strainer, and then combine the sifted mixture with the sugar and salt.

Remove the baked buns from the oven, and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then remove from the muffin tin. Brush each all over with melted butter, then roll in the cocoa earl grey sugar.

Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Earl Grey Buns with Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Filling. Fluffy brioche dough is filled with an earl grey dark chocolate custard, and a crunchy cacao nib filling, then rolled up and sliced into buns. Once baked, the rolls are brushed with butter and rolled in a cocoa nib earl grey sugar. Rich and indulgent, and the most perfect treat. #earlgreybuns #chocolatebuns #earlgreycustard

Earl Grey Sugar Pie


 
Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.
Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.
Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.
Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.
Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.
Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.

You probably haven’t noticed, but I used to be a bit of a one trick pony when it came to pie. They were almost always double crusted, and always had some sort of fancy border made from a braid or pie stamps. Now I’ve blown my own cover I can explain why - I was scared of crimping. The crimp is the fancy pattern you make around the border of a pie - either to seal the top and bottom crust, or to provide a pretty pattern for a single crusted pie. And until recently, I was pretty scared of it. So if you go back and look, there are hardly any single crust pies around here, which is 1. a huge shame because they are delicious and I love them, but also 2. going to change because I’m not scared of crimping dough anymore. And I promise to tell you everything I learnt, so we can be not scared together!

To overcome my fear, I did the same thing I usually do when I want to teach myself something new - just do it a whole heap of times until I’m happy with it. So I made 10 batches of pie dough, and crimped and crimped and crimped until I was happy with my efforts. I strategically timed it with the testing of this pie, which took a zillion tests anyway, so the crusts were getting used.

The other thing I usually do is ask my friend Erin 12,000 questions. I’ve written about Erin on here before, but she is an amazing, amazing baker food stylist, and all around wizard, and an even more amazing friend. She gave me a crash course in crimping when I went to stay with her for our Pie extravaganza, and I managed to video most of it, and saved it to my highlights so it is always accessible. She drops way more pie tips in her amazing book, which coincidentally where this recipe for Earl Grey Sugar pie is adapted from.

If you haven’t had a sugar pie before, now is the time for that to change. They are a custard pie, but, instead of being egg set like a pumpkin pie (and therefore very susceptible to cracking), a sugar pie is flour set, meaning that it bakes up silky smooth and flat every time, and you don’t have to worry about overbaking and running the risk of cracking. It’s super easy to make - you literally just whisk everything up and pour it into your parbaked pie shell. Erin’s version in her book is delicately spiced with nutmeg, but I had to test out my Earl Grey theory (if you can infuse it, you can add earl grey) on the recipe, and it turned out amazingly. Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. To me, it is perfect.

I finished the pie off with a new obsession of mine - a stencil. I got Richard to cut these ones out on the laser cutter for me out of some thin plastic, but you can definitely make your own shapes out of card or plastic, or use a material such as lace to add a pattern. You can also just give it a quick dust of powdered sugar without a stencil. You do you here.

A few wee tips:

  • The Earl grey in this is on the strong ish side, so feel free to drop the amount by 5g if you like. I used Harney and Sons Earl Grey Supreme, which is my very very fave to both drink and bake with.

  • A new pie dough trick I learnt from Erin that is now firmly in my repertoire : After you mix the dough and shape it into discs, rest it in the fridge for about an hour, and then roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle, fold it in thirds like a letter, then roll again and repeat the folding. Then you shape it into a disc by folding the edges under, rewrap tightly in plastic, and rest for at least two hours before using. What this step does is make the dough homogenous and therefore easy to work with, but also adds layers through the rolling and folding - the same way puff pastry is laminated. It is definitely an optional step but from my experience it makes the world of difference when it comes to rolling out the dough and getting a nice even crimp or lattice work.

  • You want to make sure that this pie is completely cool before you dust it with powdered sugar and slice, in order to get the cleanest slice possible.

  • I like to infuse the tea while the crust is par baking or cooling, so it is ready to go.

  • This is amazing served with a little whipped cream!

  • When you are par baking your pie crust, chill your crust in the fridge rather than the freezer if you can - according to Erin, a longer chill in the fridge is preferable to a short chill in the freezer.

  • The pie dough recipe makes a double crust - so enough for two pies. You might as well make the extra while you are at it in my opinion - pie dough freezes well, tightly wrapped, for at least a few months, or lasts a few days in the fridge. Defrost overnight if using from frozen.

 

 

Earl Grey Sugar Pie

- Makes one 9” pie -

Recipe adapted from ‘The Fearless Baker’

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups (310g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
225g (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar

Filling
240g whole milk
300g heavy cream
25g loose leaf earl grey tea
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
150g sugar
50g brown sugar
60g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only large pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two discs, one slightly larger than the other, and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.  (See notes for rolling out dough during resting period)

Once the dough has rested, unwrap and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/4” (6mm) in thickness, turning the dough 45˚ often as you are rolling to keep it even. You want the circle to be slightly larger than your pie tin. Transfer to a 9” pie tin, and arrange to ensure that the dough is well settled.

Trim the dough using scissors or a sharp knife, leaving about one inch excess around the edges. Gently tuck the dough under and onto itself, to give you a neat folded edge. Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, then remove from the fridge and crimp as desired. Dock all over with the tines of a fork, then chill for a further 30 minutes, or freeze for 20 minutes or until solid.

While the crust is in the fridge, preheat the oven to 425˚f / 220˚c. Cut a piece of parchment slightly larger than the pie dish. Brush the crimped edge with egg wash, then line with the parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans, filling right to the bottom of the crimps.

Place the pie tin on a baking sheet, and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the parchment paper and beans, and bake for a further 4-6 minutes or until the crust looks set and is beginning to turn golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 375˚f / 190˚c.

FILLING

Place the milk and cream in a small pot. Heat over medium heat until just shy of a simmer - you want to see bubbles around the edge of the milk. Remove from the heat, and add the tea. Cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Strain the tea from the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing down to extract as much as possible. Weigh the infused milk mixture, and top up to 540g using equal parts cream and milk. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, flour and salt. Add the milk mixture and mix to combine - do not over whisk as you want the mixture as bubble free as possible. Tap the bowl a few times on the work surface to remove any bubbles in the mix.

Place the pie tin on a baking sheet, then pour the filling into the cooled pie crust, popping any large bubbles with a toothpick, or very very briefly running the flame of a blow torch over the surface.

Bake the pie at 375˚f /190˚c for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges of the filling are set, but the pie is ever so slightly wobbly still in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Earl Grey Sugar Pie - Fragrant Earl grey custard is spiked with vanilla bean, and finished with a hefty dusting of powdered sugar. An egg free version of a custard favourite that bakes perfectly flat and will never crack on you.