Baking Challenge 2018: Sweet potato and ricotta pie
Guess what? I finally completed my first ever Sally’s Baking Challenge! And, call it fate, it was a savoury pie (or rather savory pie) which is also one of my baking quests! I wasn’t going to blog about this but then I thought, why not, I should document my journey either way. Will my grand kids want to see this? Yes, they probably could learn to improvise in the kitchen.
But another reason to blog about this is that I can tick this off my baking quest list! Banzai!
Here are a few things that I learnt. Maybe it’ll make the process easier for you. Or you can skip it altogether and scroll to the bottom.
A few days beforehand, I made my pie crust.
On the day, I took out the ricotta and eggs to allow it to reach room temperature first.
The pie crust
I made the All Butter Pie Crust without changing anything except adding apple cider vinegar mixed with a little water. I mean, that’s what a basic recipe is right? The apple cider vinegar did make the base quite crumbly!
I was surprised by how little time it took to make this actually. I divided the dough into two (I have to admit, I eyeballed it), placed one in the fridge and another went into the freezer. 5 days later, the refrigerated dough emerged ready to be rolled.
I had to wet my hands and add a bit of water to the dough to make it rollable as it was a bit too crumbly for me. I am always a bit hesitant to add too much but a wet dough is better than a dry dough.
When I rolled it out, it was a thin crust, about half a centimeter thick which I initially thought was a bit too thin but when I searched the wonderful world wide Web, it was recommended to be about 1/8 of an inch thick. And if you do the match (ok, I’ll do the math – they probably don’t teach you mental math in the future) 1/8 of approximately 2.5cm is about 3.125 mm. And 5mm is pretty close to 3.125mm so yay for me!
To blind bake the pie, I actually poked some holes into the base which is called “docking” but I call it “forking” because I used a fork. Yes, I forked my pie.
I then placed parchment paper on top of the base and weighed it down with raw rice. I may have weighed it down too much and baked it for too little time because the parchment paper had bits of the dough stuck to it when I removed it. But maybe it was fate to inch me closer to the 3.125mm thin pie crust (that pun didn’t work fully hey?)
Since the base was a bit raw, I ended up baking it sans paper or rice for about 5 min. And it puffed up like a hot air balloon then deflated again. Next challenge: bake until the balloon pops😂
While the pie was baking, I made the herbed ricotta filling. I knew I didn’t love strong cheeses so I only used about half a cup of parmesan rather than the specified 2/3 cups. For herbs, it was a combination of dried parsley, thyme and rosemary.
I decided to use sweet potatoes as the main vegetable, half because that was the recipe and half because I really like sweet potato chips. I had intended to use zucchini in addition but my mum decided to stir fry it and my family ate half of it for dinner. Alas, I found some leeks lying around and thought it would add a splash of colour to the pie so I sauteed about half a branch (stalk?) of leek in some extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and salt and sprinkled it around the perimeters of the sweet potato rings.
I love putting crumbed walnut with everything so this was my substitute for fresh herbs (don’t directly substitute walnut for any herb in other dishes – walnut does not taste like herbs).
Since I hadn’t washed my rolling pin from rolling the pie, I ended up just placing it between the parchment paper for the rice weights and crushing it with my hands. Because I got guns yo! 💪
Also, since I had cooked the leeks before hand, they turned to crisp very quickly after baking the pie. So I improvised and squashed them with my hands (again, the guns) and sprinkled them over the pie. Voila!
Place in oven and bake. I must not have brushed the vegetables with enough oil because the sweet potatoes looked a bit dry. To help give it some life, I opened the oven door and brushed some oil on top and rotated the tin to allow even distribution of heating in my oven.
Lessons learnt for next time:
Don’t be afraid to put enough flour on the bench so that the dough doesn’t stick to the bench. I ended up with a few cracks because a bit of it formed a bond with marble bench.
Don’t be afraid to add enough liquid to the dough. The dough formed a dough because I shaped the dough into submission. But when I tried to roll it out, it crumbled which meant there wasn’t enough liquud. I ain’t making a crumble, I’m making a pie!
Add enough pie weights to the tin so that the baking paper doesn’t fly away but not enough so that the dough sticks to the paper.
Brush enough oil on the vegetables so they bake well.
Don’t soften soft vegetables e.g. Leeks before baking or they will turn into chips.
Don’t decide to bake a recipe you haven’t baked at 10pm at night and then try to perfect the photos.
Sweet potato and ricotta pie
This creamy sweet potato and ricotta pie is so easy to make- give it a try!