Thursday, 12 February 2015

Butterscorched - My Golden Diploma

Fanny Cradock was a self taught cook, she never claimed to be anything else, and was very proud of it. So proud that her aim in the partwork was to help us all 'teach ourselves' in the kitchen, but obviously in the Cradock way. Despite never having a lesson in her life, she was bestowed upon with a great many diplomas and decorations for both gastronomic and culinary merit, which she reckoned made her 'level pegging' with the greatest French Masters. You wouldn't argue would you? She modestly claimed to be 'nothing special' (just don't say it back it her), just a hard worker, and her students could achieve the same if they too worked hard. The partwork was evidence in itself of how to create dishes from the simplest to the 'greatest of parallel excellence' to those French Masters. Fanny created her own merit and reward system for her partwork students - The Golden Diploma. Fanny believed that everyone should have a permanent symbol of skill and appreciation to hang proudly in their kitchen. There were three levels of recognition that could be awarded, and I've reached the end of Part 16 which should secure me the 'Commencement Diploma'.

Fanny Cradock Butterscotch Pie

The final dish to complete this first rung on the Cradock culinary ladder is a ButterScotch Meringue Pie, or 'Pie Caramel au Beurre Meringué' in Fannys faux translation. It all seems rather fortunate too - it was my birthday at the weekend and I was thrilled, although I have to admit a little scared, to receive a blowtorch as a gift. Flames. I have been known to like flames a little too much. However a precise flare would be perfect to add some much needed flair for the meringue topping, and surely as a soon-to-be diploma holder I could be trusted to operate naked flame in a handy kitchen torch? Maybe I just won't tell Fanny.

Fanny Cradock Butterscotch Pie

Fanny certainly trusts me to create my own pastry cases using the skills and expertise learnt on my journey so far. No reminders required for diploma-level students. For the butterscotch filling I heat milk and maple syrup gently in a small pan until it reaches boiling point. In a bowl, I whip up egg yolks with flour and brown sugar, and which in the syrupy milk mixture. Over a pan of simmering water I continue to stir the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, before pouring it into my pre-prepared tart shells to cool and set. If Fanny were watching me she'd be delighted with my skill and expertise. And my crack of Cradock confidence.

Fanny Cradock Butterscotch Pie

For the meringue topping, the egg whites are whisked up by my trustee assistant Sarah (aka my KitchenAid) until they are very stiff. Fanny urges me to add only a third of the required caster sugar and whisk again for exactly three and a half minutes. Thankfully Sarah doesn't complain and whisks away happily while I have a sit down. When the remaining sugar is folded in the meringue is ready to pipe on top of the caramel coloured butterscotch pies. Fanny blisters hers carefully under a grill, but I have my new toy to fire up...

Fanny Cradock Butterscotch Pie

Confidently, but carefully, I torch and scorch the meringue topping until it's lightly browned. It puffs up a bit. So do I, quite proud of my achievement, and quite relieved I haven't burnt the house down. It tastes great, even if it's not butterscotch as anyone would know it. In order to obtain my diploma, I need to write off to Fanny with evidence from family and friends that not only have I cooked a dish from each of the initial 16 parts but that they have ENJOYED it. I doubt if I send of for it today anyone will reply, so I'm reliant on you all to vouch for me (I do hope you HAVE enjoyed it all?) and get me ready as I work towards the Advanced Diploma and hopefully the full Golden Diploma in the years to come. Maybe one day I'll track down one that Fanny sent out and be able to proudly display it in my kitchen - if you have one let me know! 

Fanny Cradock Butterscotch Pie

12 comments:

  1. They look blooming brilliant! Belated Happy Birthday, I got a blowtorch once for my birthday, my family thought I was nuts asking for one! Definitely think you deserve the Golden Diploma!!

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    1. Thanks Jacqui, I'm already thinking what else I can blowtorch!

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  2. Congratulations on your diploma, definitely deserved, those tarts look amazing. Happy Birthday too.

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    1. Thanks so much, I wonder if I should add letters after my name?!

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    2. But what would the letters be? FAN. Dip.? Congratulations though - well deserved!

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    3. Wa-ha-ha! Am I now a qualified Fanny do you think?

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  3. I love your Butterscotch Meringue Pies, great use of your birthday pressie! Happy belated birthday BTW. Diploma definitely deserved - from an ex AQA examiner :D

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    1. Well that's it, I'm accredited now! Thanks...

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  4. Hello - I love reading your blog - it is very amusing I just never comment however this is a magnificent dish and most definitely makes you Diploma worthy!

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    1. Well thanks so much! It's so much fun to do, and I really like to hear that people are enjoying it, so special thanks for letting me know! *feedback junkie*

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  5. Congratulations on your diploma and I'll take a dozen of those please! Karen

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    1. Thanks, I'll send some to you tout de suite!

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