Sunday, 7 September 2014

Great British Bake Along: Peapod Pie

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, this week was Pie and Tart week on the Great British Bake Off.

Not content with my foray into tarts in my earlier blog post, I also decided to make a pie this week.

I first attempted it on Wednesday, so that I could watch the bakers of GBBO making pies whilst eating one myself – so I didn’t feel left out. I used the cheat puff pastry method (that’s a blog for another day, bakelings) and made a filling of feta, mint, roughly chopped potato and fresh peas.

Although the pie was good, I wasn’t satisfied with it for a few reasons. The roughly chopped potato filling spilled out, the pie didn’t look as pretty as it could and I forgot to season the filling, which is pretty essential.

So I rethought the recipe, rebought the ingredients, mashed the potato and seasoned the filling this time and used the hot water pastry method. This is what it produced:

Pretty magnificent, I think you’ll agree. The hot water crust pastry method produces dough that is mostly easy to work with (more on this later) and a sturdy crust, making it good for decorative work and meaning the pie can stand by itself when you remove the tin. It was my first time using the method but I’ll definitely use it again.

This pie not only looks impressive, but is really tasty and would make a great dinner centrepiece, serving about 6 people. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe:

You will need:

For the filling:
150g feta cheese
handful of roughly chopped mint leaves
200g fresh petit pois
450g mashed potato
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pastry:
450g plain flour
100g strong white bread flour
75g butter, chilled and cubed
100g margarine
200ml water
½ tsp salt
circular cake tin with removable base

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and mix together the ingredients for the filling. Mix the flours in a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips.

2. Heat the water, salt and lard until just boiling, then pour onto the flour mixture and mix quickly with a wooden spoon. When cool enough to handle, tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

3. Cut off about one third of the dough and set aside, then quickly roll out the rest - hot water pastry becomes less workable as it cools. Slide the base of the cake tin under it and put the base in the tin, letting the pastry drape over the sides.

4. Use a little piece of dough to press the pastry into the corners of the tin, then roll a rolling pin over the top to remove the excess pastry.

5. Roll out the remaining pastry and place the tin on it, then cut around the bottom to make the pie lid, keeping any extra pastry. Put the filling in the pie, packing it in tightly and place the lid over the top, then seal the edges by crimping the edges - pressing them together from both sides with your thumbs. I didn't get this quite right - I only pressed from one side and the lid was loose.

6. Cut a hole in the middle of the pie and use and leftover pastry to decorate it. You could make peapods and mint leaves, like I have, or make letters out of pastry - whatever you like, but work quickly as the pastry will be cooling by now. Brush the crust with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes at 200C, then lower the heat to 160 and cook for another hour. Cover the top with foil if you think the pie is colouring too much.

7. Cut, eat.

And there you have it. A pie that cuts well, tastes amazing and is a great vegetarian centrepiece. If you've made hot water crust pastry before you'll notice I used margarine instead of lard - this is because I don't eat meat. As I never use lard, I can't tell you if it changed the pastry at all, but it seemed easy to handle and shape to me.

Join me for the next installation of my Bake Off inspired series next week, when the theme will be European cakes, whatever that means.



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