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Nadine's Pecan Pie

America was bound to come up with a dessert to celebrate its abundance of pecan trees. The nut, sweeter, oilier and milder-flavoured then the walnut it resembles, can replace it in any recipe but it's particularly good in this all American pie.

I often add toasted pecans to apples, cooked in maple syrup, or caramelised as I would for a tarte tatin and set upon lacy pancakes. Home-made vanilla ice-cream sometimes goes on top. That may seem a bit OTT but somehow pecans, America and OTT all go together. By the way, I put in twice as many pecans as any recipe that I found for it, let abundance be a byword of your cooking and you cannot go wrong. If you're wondering why the pastry has no sugar, trust me when I say the filling is as sweet as can be, though less oppressively so with maple syrup than with the more common golden syrup. The hint of saltiness is one of the tart's special appeals.

This is also a good opportunity to tell you another thing about pastry. There is a mantra that those of us who ever did home economics (if there ever was such an alienating name for the art of cooking) at school were taught - pastry equals half fat to flour. Mediocre pastry perhaps. Good pastry equals at least 60 per cent fat to flour. Now that's worth getting your fingers sticky for.

Serves 8

100g plain flour
pinch of salt
60g cold butter, cut into pieces
2 tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling:
3 large organic, free-range eggs
125g pecan kernels
60g butter, melted and cooled
200ml maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice

Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Rub the cold butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and add the cold water to bring it together into a ball. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry very thinly and use to line a buttered and floured 28cm loose-based tin, preferable fluted. Press it firmly into the sides, leaving a slight overhang.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 7.
Chill the pastry again as before and then blind-bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes until crisp but still pale.
Mix all the filling ingredients together and pour into the pie shell. Lower the oven heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to just warm before serving.

Cooking time: 2 hours

Source: The Cranks Bible Nadine Abensur

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