Nut Pastry

This is one of my favourite “oh my gosh did I really create this on the spur of the moment” recipes. It’s easy (probably the easiest pastry you’ll ever make), healthy (no FODMAPs, and plenty of healthier fats, as well as being low-Gi) and absolutely delicious (…it’s a fave!), and is guaranteed to provide the wow factor when you have guests over.

It’s also versatile - just a couple of tweaks and it can very successfully be sweet or savoury; you can blind bake it and fill with things which you don’t need to bake again, or you can blind bake it for 5 minutes or so and fill with things which do need to be cooked, it holds up well either way. It also translates really well to a rectangular baking tray if you want it to look more like a savoury tart for a starter etc.

The ingredients list might seem formidably long, especially given that I’m claiming that it’s an “easy” pastry, but you don’t need to chop or peel anything and once you’re used to cooking with nuts and seeds you’ll always have loads of these to hand anyway - what used to be called our “baking box” is now called our “nuts and seeds box” - the flours have half a cupboard to themselves!

Notes on the ingredients:

Regarding coconut oil: you can use any fat you prefer (butter, margarine, oil, lard…), and you can get “flavourless” coconut oil if you don’t want the taste; I personally think the coconut flavour works amazingly well with just about any filling!

And the chestnut puree: this is needed for the sticky binding properties… I’ll try using an alternative like chia- or teff-paste instead for those who don’t want the sweetness of the chestnuts and let you know the outcome! I recommend trying it with the chestnut puree at least once, I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised :)

And the chocolate bread! This might sound like a strange addition. I happened to have some GF, low-FODMAP (and somehow still delicious) homemade chocolate bread lying around when I made this pastry, and decided on a whim that it would be slightly chocolatey pastry. So I slung in a slice. It worked really well! If you don’t have any chocolate bread around then you can omit this entirely (although you may want to adjust the liquid content downwards as well), or you can use a different flavour - I reckon a banana and walnut bread would work well, or a cheese and tomato or herb bread for savoury pastry… even a slice of plain bread. Just make sure it’s low-FODMAP!

Cooking equipment:

  • Baking tray
  • An oven!
  • Food processor (if you don’t have one, wait for the nuts and seeds to cool completely and transfer them to a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin until nice and fine. You can then mix everything else in a big mixing bowl, but the texture of the pastry won’t be as fine, and it will be quite a workout!)
  • Pie dish, or fluted tin with removable base - 18-25 cm diameter, about 3 cm deep
  • Baking paper and blind baking beans/rice

Ingredients:

  • 150g nuts and seeds mixture. I use:
    • 50g pine nuts
    • 50g sunflower seeds
    • 30g linseed (golden or brown)
    • 10g sesame seeds (I use white but I’m sure black would be fine)
    • 10g poppy seeds (I use blue, but, again, subs welcome!)
  • 100g coconut oil
  • 100g chestnut puree
  • 40g oat bran
  • 3-4 tbsps rice flour
  • 1 thick slice chocolate bread (or any other bread, optional)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, for sweet pastry)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional, for sweet pastry)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (about gas 5, 190 in a non-fan, 375 F)
  • Spread the nuts and seeds out on a baking tray and roast for 5-6 minutes until they smell amazing and they’re starting to go nice and brown. Remove from the tray directly into the food processor, so that they don’t keep cooking on the baking tray. Leave the oven on.
  • Melt the coconut oil gently in the microwave or on the stove and add the chestnut puree, as well as the maple syrup and vanilla if using. Mix well and add to the food processor.
  • Add the oatbran, and bread if using.
  • Blitz it all together for several minutes until well mixed and as smooth as possible - we’re using whole nuts rather than nut flour here, so it’s not going to be completely smooth, but it shouldn’t be crunchy, either.
  • Add rice flour to the processor one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles biscuit crumbs. It should all press together easily at this point.
  • Grease your tin or dish, and tip the pastry in. Use your fingers to push it into the shape of the dish and up the sides. You can use the bottom of a cup or similar to smooth the bottom if you like (put a layer of clingfilm on the pastry first so the cup doesn’t stick and ruin it!). Try and get it as even as you can, and make sure that there are no holes in the sides - you can tear bits off to patch and even up where necessary. Make sure there’s a bit of an overhang at the top in case of shrinkage - this can be trimmed off after you’ve finished cooking for a more perfect finish, or you can leave it rustic. This also means there’s plenty of delicious edge bits for you to quality control test when it’s cooked :)
  • Prick all over with a fork (up the sides, too), line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (or just plain old rice) and bake for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the rice and paper and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the middle looks uniformly dry with no soggy patches.
  • Fill with whatever takes your fancy - you may want to brush all over with a light egg wash for the last few minutes of baking if you’re going to use a very wet filling to help keep the pastry crusty.

I have made this sweet filled with a chocolatey egg custard topped with an italian meringue for chocolate meringue pie, and I’ve made it savoury filled with spinach, mushrooms and sweet potato.