Mmmmm Cheese! My absolute favourite food. Last year's Fromage Fest at Aberdeen's Pinnies & Petticoats Baking Club was one of our most popular meets. What to make this time round? I swithered over various options but macaroni cheese kept niggling at the back of my mind and in the end I succumbed and opted to attempt a giant pimped up version of a Scottish favourite.
GIANT MACARONI PIE WITH BACON LATTICE TOPPING
12 rashers streaky bacon
250g plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
50g grated parmesan
40ml cold water
50g plain flour
1 pint milk
200g grated mature cheddar (plus 50g extra for topping)
2 tsp English mustard powder
First weave your bacon. (Any recipe that starts with this instruction has got to be good!) Before weaving commenced I stretched the rashers with the back of a knife. I wove on a thin flexible chopping board so that I could easily transfer it at a later stage to the top of the pie by inverting the board.
Next make your pastry. I put all my ingredients in the food processor and pulsed until they came together. Add the water gradually as depending upon the size of your egg you may not need the full amount. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins before using it to line a metal 26cm loose bottomed flan case. Bake blind for 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees C.
Cook macaroni according to packet instructions and drain. Make the bechamel sauce using either the roux or all in one method. Once thickened add 200g of the grated cheese, mustard powder and seasoning. Mix the pasta into the sauce, pour into the blind baked flan case and top with the remaining 50g of cheese.
Carefully cover the pie with the lattice topping. There was a lot of overhang, which I was tempted to trim but in retrospect I'm very glad that I didn't. Pop the pie back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. At this point I could see we had considerable shrinkage and we also had some pretty serious curling going on at the edges. In an attempt to rectify I placed a metal tray on the top and gave it a further 10 minutes.
The end result was a square of woven bacon on top of a circular pie. It almost looked as if it were meant to be. Not quite sure what the answer to this is. I guess a smaller flan tin would be more practical than going larger on the bacon. Despite the square peg in a round hole looks, it tasted amazing. Sooo cheesy with fantastically crumbly pastry and not a soggy bottom to be seen. It got the thumbs up all round at our Fromage Feast.
The turnout on the night was actually one of the smallest we've had at Pinnies & Petticoats in a long while. This seemed to be down to a combination of holidays and work/family commitments rather than - shock horror - people not loving cheese. We still had a great collection of cheesy cakes and bakes to get through including some non photographed potted stilton, fruit cheese and chilli jam.
Cheese & Tomato Muffins
Stilton & Sesame Biscuits
Pizza Balls filled with Mozzarella & Salami
Mac 'n' Cheese Bites
Lime , blueberry, apricot and cream cheese Babba
Creme Brulee Cheesecakes
Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes
New York Style Baked Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping
The next Pinnies & Petticoats Aberdeen Baking Club is scheduled for 18th June with the theme of Commonwealth Games - Bake for Victory. New bakers are always welcome - we are fun, friendly and non competitive with absolutely no rules. Countries are available for allocation on a first come, first served basis. Pick a country and bake something from it. I've chosen Trinidad and Tobago and now I'm on the lookout for somewhere in Aberdeen that sells Cassava.