Day one - making the filling.
Day two, part one - making the dough.
Now for day two, part two - assembling and baking the tourtierre!
Just a warning, this post is going to be image heavy. :-D
After the dough has had a chance to chill, we set up our assembly line. For what is usually my part, I've got the filling (stirred up to make it easier to scoop) with a larger spoon, a smaller spoon to smooth out the filling in the crust, a bowl of water to moisten the edges of the bottom crust for the top crust, a paring knife to cut the excess dough off and cut in steam vents. The lumps of dough tend to be a bit hard to work with, so when I have a moment, I grab some and knead it to make it more pliable. We've also got the pie plates ready and waiting. My younger daughter had the job shuttling things between me and my husband.
My husband takes the job of rolling out the dough - at least as long as he can. This job is quite hard on the back. :-(
We roll the dough between two layers of heavy vinyl. It makes the job much easier. Clean up is easier, too.
The very first completed pie. Isn't it pretty? :-D
Our oven can bake 3 pies at a time, so we work in groups of three. We'd do the bottoms and filling for three pies, then to the tops. By then, the oven is preheated and my older daughter starts on the baking.
The baking changes with every move, depending on what oven we've got at the time. The recipe says to bake at 500F until golden brown, but we've never gone that hot. Our current oven has a cool spot in the back left. There's a couple of things we do to compensate for it. One is to bake with a pan of water in the lower rack. The steam helps even out the heat. If we've got more than one item in at once (like when I'm doing 2 loaves of bread), we switch them around half way through baking.
Here are the first two batches (minus a pie that was sacrificed to the greater good...). The batches are cooled in phases. When they first come out of the oven, they rest on the stove for a bit. Then they get moved to a towel lined ironing board I set up near the back door. By the time the surface is completely covered, the first batch is cool enough to head outside.
These prairie winters come in handy! The pies are placed between layers of towels for protection and left until frozen. Once completely frozen, we wrap them in heavy duty foil. We don't have a large enough freezer for them all, so they usually end up in a box or bin and go back outside.
Here are the first couple of pies using the paprika enhanced dough. We haven't tried one yet. We did notice a significant difference in the dough, though. The first few batches were the herb dough with pastry flour. Those were much easier to roll out and handle. The all purpose flour batches are much denser. However the paprika dough, even though it was with all purpose flour, was a lot smoother and more pliable. Not quite the same as the pastry dough batches, but similar.
After baking, the paprika dough loses some of its brilliant orange colouring.
When we start getting to the end of the filling, things start to get a bit more creative.
The remaining filling wasn't enough to fill a regular sized pie, so I made a couple of tart sized pies. I was just mucking about and came up with these two. I did one more, but it's just a meat filled rectangle.
I think they turned out rather well. We didn't bother freezing these. They'll make handy little snacks or lunches for my husband to take to work, I think. :-D
Once all the filling is gone, there's usually some left over dough. In fact, we look forward to there being extra dough! Here's what I made with half of it.
I kneaded some shredded aged cheddar cheese into the dough, then rolled it out. I wanted to get a nice, neat rectangle out of it. In the end, I ended up folding the edges towards the middle on two sides, then folded it in half, to get a long sort of loaf shape. I cut that to get these little biscuity things. I considered buttering the dough before folding, which would have been delicious, but it was past midnight and I just wasn't up to finding out where the butter dish ended up. *L*
Meanwhile, my older daughter used the other half of the dough, without added cheese, to make a whole bunch of little shapes that would bake a lot faster.
Leftover dough makes for great snacks like this.
That's it! Our 2010 Christmas tourtierre are all done. Final count: 23 pies (6 in paprika dough), 3 mini pies and a whole bunch of biscuit thingies.
I refuse to overwhelm ourselves with baking over the holidays and am more than willing to "cheat" by buying baked goods, but this is one family tradition I look forward to every year and passing on to our children.