Whilst working our way through this challenge, although we’ve encountered many foods and cooking styles that we haven’t tried before, it’s been unusual for us to come across a country that we’ve never heard of. The Pitcairn Islands, though, were an exception! A group of four islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, the Pitcairn Islands are a British Overseas Territory, apparently most famous as the hideaway settlement for the notorious HMS Bounty mutineers (but not famous enough for us to know that without consulting Lonely Planet).
The other distinctive thing about the Pitcairn Islands is that their total population is somewhere around the 50 mark, making it the least populous nation in the world. Unsurprisingly, then, recipes are few and far between! There is actually a cookbook out there, called (creatively) Pitcairn Island Cookbook, but not having a copy of that left us at the hands of Google, which yielded a total of two options: some sort of baked pumpkin and coconut milk concoction, and a pineapple and arrowroot pie. We opted for the latter, with a slightly vague recipe from Elite Life that required a few guesses and some instinct!
For the pastry:
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup oil (we used light olive oil)
Water to mix (didn’t measure this, but it didn’t need too much)
For the filling:
1 cup arrowroot flour
175g crushed pineapple (we couldn’t find this, so blitzed pineapple slices for a couple of seconds in the Bamix, but crushed would definitely be better – ours liquefied too much)
1/2 cup sugar
About 3/4 cup boiling water
Splash of vanilla extract (or, alternatively, half a vanilla pod to be placed on the top of the filling before baking)
1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
2. Add the oil, mixing until well blended.
3. Add enough water to knead into a pliable dough (as mentioned above, you don’t need too much water here).
4. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes before rolling out to a few millimetres thickness and putting in a 8.5 inch pie dish (the original recipe didn’t specify what size, but this one seemed to work. It also didn’t say to prick the bottom of the pie case with a fork, but we did – rightly or wrongly!)
5. Mix the pineapple, sugar, arrowroot flour and vanilla together to form a stiff paste. Add boiling water (we used our instinct here and added about 3/4 cup, but that was just a guess) whilst stirring briskly until the mixture thickens and becomes opaque.
6. Tip the filling into the prepared pie dish and bake at about 190C for 25-30 minutes until crust is light brown.
It was our two year anniversary yesterday, and we chose to celebrate with a home-cooked meal this year. This pie was our dessert, to follow our main course of beef wellington (for pictures of that, check out @goodfoodonbadplates on Instagram). Beef wellington is our favourite special occasion dish, and we thought a blog-related dessert would be a good way of celebrating two years of Mash marriage. Well, in theory that was probably true, but in practice, the filling of this pie had a texture that Ash described as a cross between Turkish delight and chewing gum… imagine really, really chewy Turkish delight and you’ll be halfway there. Additionally, the aniseedy flavour of arrowroot (those who claim it’s flavourless are, simply, wrong) overpowered the pineapple somewhat (to be fair, this might be our fault because we didn’t use quite as much pineapple as we should have, because of the size of the tin), which wasn’t unpleasant exactly, but did leave us wondering what the point of the pineapple really was.
Whilst our beef wellington was as wonderful as we’d hoped, Pitcairn Island arrowroot pie will sadly not be making its way onto our Special Occasion Dishes list!