Pistachio Bakewell plait: a great take on the classic tart

Pureed and chopped pistachios, and pomegranate, bring Middle Eastern sparkle

The Irish Times baking expert, Vanessa Greenwood, shares her recipe for the sumptuous Pistachio Bakewell Plait. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

This puff pastry plait is a relatively easy dessert for quick entertaining, as long as you can find the right ingredients. It is an adaptation of a classic Bakewell tart, with the familiar combination of pastry, jam and a delicious batter made from ground nuts.

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November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related content in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth

In this version the striking green colour is achieved by mixing pistachio puree into the almond filling. The pomegranates and chopped pistachio nuts give the bake an attractive Middle Eastern finish. Before dashing to the shops it is worth mentioning that pistachio puree (commonly called pistachio paste) is one of those high-end speciality ingredients, not readily available in most shops. (I find it in Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2, and you can also buy online.)

Good quality pistachio paste is unsweetened with no added food colouring. The smooth, intensely nutty substance has the power to transform anything into a delight. Because it is 100 per cent natural it is revered by chefs, chocolatiers, confectioners and professional bakers. It is made from lightly roasted and finely ground pistachios imparting a subtle green colour with a warm flavour of toasted nuts.

Because it is more commonly used by chefs in fine dining establishments, it is mostly only available through wholesale suppliers but it is possible to buy it online from UK suppliers. I first came across pistachio paste when making a pistachio-flavoured white chocolate ganache for macarons.

It is classified as a speciality ingredient, so home cooks rarely see it in recipes but it is always nice to discover something new, especially if you ever considered making pistachio ice-cream. If you plan on investing in a jar you might have to start saving up. A small jar (180g/€29.95 at Fallon & Byrne) costs more than a set of baking tins, but it is worth every cent as long as you use it. The good news is that it has a great shelf life, lasting up to a few months.

The green-coloured filling in this plait can only achieved using pistachio paste but if you can’t source it, I recommend you just enjoy the recipe without it. You always have the option of scattering lots more chopped pistachios over the top.  The attractive pea green colour contrasts nicely with the golden pastry. If you want to see how the plait is created, there is an online video link to this recipe to guide you. 

PISTACHIO BAKEWELL PLAIT

Ingredients
Serves six
300g prerolled puff pastry
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
25g plain flour
125g ground almonds
30g pistachio paste (optional, if available)
50g shelled pistachios, chopped
50g pomegranate seeds
1tbsp raspberry jam
Egg wash, to glaze
Freshly whipped cream or ice cream, to serve

Method
Preheat oven to 200°C fan.

Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar until soft and pale.  Add in the eggs, followed by the plain flour, ground almonds and pistachio paste (if using).  Lastly fold in half the chopped pistachios and pomegranates (reserving the other half for decoration).

Roll the puff pastry out into two rectangles approximately 30cm x 20cm each in size.

Lay the base sheet of puff pastry on a sheet of parchment paper.

 Leaving a 3cm border around the outer edges, spread jam down the middle length of the pastry.

Spoon the filling over the jam.

Fold the pastry borders inwards to encase the filling and baste the pastry edges with some egg wash.

With the second layer of pastry, overlap three wide ribbons of pastry to create a wide plait.  Lay it over the filled pastry, sealing the sides by pressing the pastry edges together and tucking the pastry underneath at either ends.  Brush the pastry all over with egg glaze.  Transfer the filled plait to the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes (reduce the oven temperature after 25 minutes if the pastry is darkening too much).  Remove from the oven and garnish with the reserved pistachios and pomegranates.

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Variation
Instead of a plait, the top layer of puff pastry can be left plain (simply score across with a few knife cuts) or used to create a lattice pattern.

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