I expect that there will be cakes galore out there but here’s something different: a pastry that anyone can make.
I’ve been celebrating this special Baking Day with a virtual on-line live bake-in with blind and visually impaired people – and there will be a video published soon too. It is part of our series of bakes to create a special tea for family and friends as the Covid lock-down eases. So far, we’ve made ginger biscuits, soda bread, lemon Victoria sponges and, today, individual pork pies.
I’ve heard from so many people that they are no good at making pastry, their hands are too hot/cold/rough or whatever. Hot water pastry is like play-dough: beautifully malleable and forgiving. Left-overs can be stored in the fridge or freezer for another day. Pork pies and raised game pies are the traditional uses but I’ve made open tartlets and even used a vegetable filling.
We have been experimenting with different fats for those who don’t want to use lard. Trex is based on oil and is one possibility and those who feel self-indulgent could use all-butter.
One of the plus points with this pastry is that it can be moulded very thin – not like those wedges of dough in shop-bought pies. You can therefore pretend that it is nearly good for you.
The beaten egg brushed over the pastry is primarily for those who eat with their eyes – it makes no difference to the taste.
Hot water pastry:
200g plain flour.
50g strong white bread flour.
Flat teaspoon ground mace (optional).
Flat teaspoon salt.
About 300g sausage meat.
Ground black pepper.
Fresh thyme leaves.
1 lemon, zest only.
1 egg, beaten.
Preheat oven to 200C, Gas 6.
Place the water and lard in a pan and heat gently until the lard has just melted.
Meanwhile, mix the flours, salt and mace (if using) in a bowl.
Rub in the butter.
Pour in the water and lard and stir with a wooden spoon.
Use your hands to make a dough ball and allow it to cool (press out and put on a cold plate in the fridge).
Mix black pepper, the herbs and lemon zest into the sausage meat.
Line the pie tins with the pastry (either roll out or mould with your hands).
Fill with sausage meat and press out a lid and mould over the pies.
Make a hole in each pie top to let steam escape, brush with the beaten egg.
Place on a tray in the oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 140C, Gas 2 for 20 minutes. If you have a probe thermometer, check that the filling has reached 70C. Cover with a loose double layer of foil to stop the pastry over-cooking if necessary.
I will use a bun tin with loose bottoms or small foil containers with high sides.
It is difficult to be accurate about the amount of filling you will need as it depends on the size of your pie tins, how thin you get the pastry etc. The above quantities made three generous individual pork pies.
Trex or butter might replace the lard although I haven’t tried it.
If I was experimenting with a wheat-free flour, I’d try adding about a teaspoon of xanthium gum to the flour – but no guarantees!
Vegetable fillings are equally possible but will need part-cooking beforehand so that the mix has cooled. I’ve used: sautéed onion, mushroom, courgette, potato, fresh thyme, seasoning.
If you want to chill the pies, you might consider adding some “jelly”: a stock pot/cube, a little water and some gelatine to make the jelly that is poured into the steam hole. Good to do this while the pie is still warm and it will spread through the pie.