Pie British Walnut

British Pie Week Is Here and Our Food Historian Shares Some Nutty Recipes

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Pie British
 
My attention has turned to walnuts in recent weeks and not just because I love a coffee and walnut cake. Instead, my walnut obsession is connected with pies. Indeed, March is the time of year that pies rule supreme in the UK, with British Pie Week running from the 4th March through 10th March.
 
At the centre of British Pie Week is the wonderful British Pie Awards, which sees hopeful experienced and budding pie makers delivering their entries to Melton Mowbray (a town famed for its pies) on 5th March, ready for judging on the 6th and an awards lunch on the 10th for those lucky enough to have earned a place in pie making history.
 
The British do love a pie (sweet or savoury) and the British Pie Awards is a wonderful event on the British foodie calendar. But what has any of this got to do with walnuts? Well, my entry this year is for a walnut pie. I’m hoping,
praying and dreaming that my entry will be good enough to secure a prize, but I know that the competition is tough so I may need an extra helping of good fortune.
 
My pie entry will be of a recipe that I found in an old household manual and I love the fact that the old recipe uses walnuts, a nut whose history I love.
 
British Pie Week is celebrated across England and many restaurants and companies organize events within the week to cook up some fun. So get out there and eat some pie, attend an event, or try baking one at home.
 
I won’t be sharing my top secret pie recipe here in the faint hope it might be a winner. But the two recipes i’m sharing below for Wonderful Walnut Tart and Walnut Wine will be winners on your table.
 
Bon appetit!
 
 
Pie British
 
 

A Nutty Long History

 
Dating back to 7000 BC the Walnut has a long and regal history. It is the Romans who are credited with introducing and spreading the graceful walnut tree throughout most of Europe. The name English Walnut
is somewhat confusing, with its other name the Persian Walnut giving a better indication of its true origins.
 
Walnuts were introduced by the Romans from Persia, but with shorter winters and more sunshine now providing perfect growing and fruiting conditions for walnuts,  the name
English Walnut is now more befitting than ever. The common walnut, Juglans Regia, will grow happily in reasonable sized garden as long as it is planted in a sheltered position. Walnut trees do not weather frost
and love the sun, so always position them in a spacious plot that is protected from Spring frost.
 
Whilst squirrels are a nuisance for stealing the nut crop they are doing their bit for walnut tree preservation as their tendency to steal nuts, bury them and forget where they are, means that new
woodlands are being created. A pickled walnut is one of those wonderful British, culinary quirks. Walnuts for pickling are harvested in late June, when they are still green and they can also be picked for making walnut schnapps at this stage. If you want nuts for eating though you’ll have to fight off competition from crows and squirrels and harvest them from October to early November.
 
There is a phrase “A woman, a dog and a walnut tree; the harder they are beaten, the better they be”, which is believed to have originated from the Continent where long poles were used for harvesting nuts.
These long poles knocked down the nuts and the dead branches, making harvesting easier and also limiting the spread of fungal infections in the tree. The beating of the tree would also have stimulated
late-summer shoot formation and would have aided nut production for the following year as the walnut flowers at the tips of stems formed the previous year.
 
According to Ancient Greek legend, during the Golden Age the Gods lived exclusively on walnuts, whilst mortal men lived on acorns. The Romans named the walnut Juglans Regia, which translates as Jupiter’s
nut or Jupiters royal acorn, so the next time you decide to feast on walnuts you may want to adopt a royal pose.
 
For a walnut recipe that is fit for a queen my Vin de Noix or Walnut Wine is well worth the effort. It’s rich, full bodied and will provide you with more warmth than a bear hug on a cold winter night.
 
 
Bon appetit!
 
 
 

 Walnut Wine Recipe

 
Ingredients
 
40 young green walnuts that can be pierced with a darning needle, washed and quartered
1 litre brandy
 
5 litres red wine
1 kg white sugar
10 walnut leaves
Zest of 1 sweet orange
8 cloves
 
Method
 
1. Pick the walnuts in late June when the walnuts are well formed, but can still be pierced with a needle. Wear gloves to quarter the walnuts as they release a stain that will dye your hands and any surface it
come into contact with. Place all of the ingredients in a non-reactive container with a lid. Store in a cool dark place for 8 weeks, shaking every two days.
 
2. After eight weeks Strain the mixture through a sterilised cheesecloth into a bowl. Bottle and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of six months, meaning it is ready to enjoy in the winter. After trying this deep, rich drink you will truly agree with the walnuts historical claim to eminence.
 
 
 
However, if you need more convincing of the merit of this prestigious nut then you need to try this delicious tart.
 

Wonderful Walnut Tart Recipe

 
For the pastry
250g/8oz plain flour
175g/6oz cold, unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp caster sugar
 
For the filling
 
Ingredients
 
300g walnuts, shelled and pulsed
120g caster sugar
5 tbsp. double cream
2 medium-sized eggs
A few drops of vanilla extract
30g unsalted butter, melted
 
Method
 
Put the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and pulse until it is like bread crumbs. Add the egg and blend once more; the pastry should gather itself into a ball. Try not to over work the pastry by
blending or handling it too much. Also avoid adding too much water, as this will make your pastry tough, however, you may need to add a tablespoon of ice cold water if the mixture looks dry. Gather up and
wrap in cling film or parchment paper and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
 
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Roll out the pastry and line a 10in tart tin. Prick with a fork, then cover the base with parchment paper and baking beans and blind-bake for 20 minutes. If you don’t own any
baking beans then you can use any dried beans you have loitering in the back of your pantry. Remove the beans and paper and return the tart shell to the oven for five minutes to dry out the base. Remove
from the oven and allow to cool.
 
Turn up heat on the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5, in preparation for the next stage. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground walnuts, sugar, eggs, cream and vanilla extract. Stir together to combine and pour in the melted butter. Carefully pour the filling into the cooked tart shell and carefully return to the oven.
 
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the custard is golden-brown and the centre is still slightly wobbly in consistency. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before devouring. Delicious when served with clotted cream, lashing of good vanilla custard, or a good quality ice cream.

 

Author bio: Seren Charrington-Hollins

Read more food and travel inspiration at BeSeeingYou

Seren Charrington-Hollins
Introducing Seren Charrington-Hollins Seren runs a bistro and cafe bar in Mid Wales, but she is not your run of the mill caterer or restaurateur, instead she is a mother of six and an internationally recognised food historian that has created banquets and historical dinner parties for private clients and television. Her work has been featured on the BBC and ITV and she has appeared in BBC4’s Castle’s Under Siege, BBC South Ration Book Britain; Pubs that Built Britain with The Hairy Bikers and BBC 2’s Inside the Factory, Channel 4’s series Food Unwrapped, Country Files Autumn Diaries,  BBC 2’S The World’s Most Amazing Hotels and Channel 4, Food unwrapped.  She is the author of The Dark History of Tea and Revolting Recipes from History. Her work has also been featured in The Guardian, The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Mail and The Telegraph.

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