Happy 2017! I bring you a blog post that I failed to finish in 2016. Better late than never!
“ooh! Pie!…. Oh it’s just strawberry pie. Meh ”
“Pie company? That is amazing!… Wait a minute pizzas aren’t pies!”
Before I started dating Baking Boyfriend (abbreviated to BKBF from now on) these are not conversations I ever had to have. People don’t regularly assume pies are filled with meat and gets disappointed or even angry when they find out otherwise. I didn’t truly understand how much English people love their meat pies. Especially them Northerners.
One time we were travelling from the Lakes back to Manchester and on the way back BKBF insisted we stop at a town named Skipton. According to google there is a nice castle that is definitely worth a visit. We didn’t go to the castle. We went to an apparently very famous pie shop. We went in and got two pies, then sat on the bench in a nearby Park and ate those pies. I felt I like it was expected of me to be amazed. Best pork pies, I was told. …. Meh, I said. I’d prefer a nice steak and ale pie, if we are talking about pies at all but I realize maybe it isn’t the kind of things you compare.
Anyway. So pork pies come back on my radar because of you know it, Bake off! There is one comic relief Bake off episode where David Mitchell(one of my favourite British comedians, pictured above)was making pork pies. It looked quite good, and most of all, looked quite easy to do. I thought, well if this is what it takes to get to BKBF’s heart, it might be worth a go! The most fantastic thing is, there are videos of how to properly make this! You can’t fail! (edit: those videos have disappeared from Youtube, WOE!)
Of course just because Paul Hollywood makes it look super simple, that doesn’t mean you, the average baker will also find it super simple.
Pastry, is my one arch-nemesis. Baking the perfect pastry to have it thin enough to be tasty, but strong enough to stay in one piece and hold all the glorious filling is a tricky tricky mission. My first go at the recipe resulted in broken pies, pies that got stuck in the tin, pies that exploded with juices. They definitely tasted better than what I remember from the Skipton ones though, so I thought it is at least worthwhile to try to perfect.
Hot water crust pastry is the pastry of choice for savoury pies. The basic ingredient of this pastry is water, flour and lard. I know! Lard! It makes a strong, elastic pastry that will make a tall pie up to 10cm (we tried it on these tins) This particular recipe included butter in addition to lard, which I find to be so much tastier. Would definitely recommend this over regular ones with just lard.
With hot water crust pastry you also have to work fast. If you are working with a sweet shortcrust pastry for example, the warmth of your hand is enough to keep the pastry somewhat malleable. Once hot water crust pastry cools, it becomes this limp, cold, … thing and is not possible to work with. So on top of everything else, work fast to somehow cut the size of circles you need and somehow make it fit into your tins before it goes cold. Oh, if you try working on this in the summer you don’t have to worry about the getting cold problem as much, though it is a very unplesant greasy texture on your hands…. am I turning you away from trying this recipe? That is really not my intention. Really just want to warn you it is a bit trickier than any tutorial makes it out to be.
I used ground pork this time instead of a tenderloin. I also cannot find unsmoked bacon anywhere so I used lightly smoked ones with no additional fancy flavours. It has never been too salty for me so I’d say don’t worry about it. Texture wise I actually prefer the tenderloin, but if you didn’t wanna spend, ground pork makes for a more traditional texture.
One of the other annoying thing too when working with pastry is that if you don’t give it time to rest when you roll and cut it. It will shrink back. I cut a few perfectly size circles and when I tried to put them on as lids, they shrunk to half the size it should be. >.>
I have doubled the amount of pastries, and it makes 6 pies in the jumbo muffin tins shown above, they are straight sided so perfect for the job. If you use a regular muffin tin it would work as well you might just end up with different number of pies.
Recipe adapted from Paul’s Hollywood‘s mini pork pie with quails’ eggs
For the Pastry
400g All Purpose Flour
80g Bread Flour
100g Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed
For the Filling:
~500g Ground Pork
3-4 slices of Bacon, finely chopped
Handful of Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
(original recipe calls for quail egg, I didn’t bother with it)
150ml of chicken stock
1 pack of gelatin
-Set oven to 200°c/400°f
1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the cubed butter, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers till it looks like breadcrumbs. Whilst doing that, bring water and salt to a boil, add the lard and stir till it has melted.
2. Pour the lard water into the bowl with the buttery flour and stir to form a dough. As soon as it resembles a dough tip it onto a work surface and knead it into a smooth ball. The dough is going to be a bit hot, but work on it as soon as it is cool enough to knead. You need to work quickly!
3. Roll the pastry out to about 3mm. If you roll it too thin you’re going to have trouble picking it up to fill your tin. Cut it into whatever size you need it to be to lie the bottom to slightly over the top. You should have some extra pastry around the top of the tin to join with the lid later. For the lid, cut it to whatever size of your muffin tins, slightly larger is fine. If your pastry is retracting after you cut it, stop, and wait a moment before trying again. Also if you use the non-stick type tin like I did, then you don’t have to worry about greasing the tin because the pastry is quite greasy to start with. If you use a regular tin, you might want to grease them.
4. Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Fill up the pastry case, remember to make the centre a bit higher than the side. Once you have filled the pies all up, poke a small hole on the lid and put it over the pies. To seal them, pinch the overflow pastry on the case and press it into the lid. … whichever way you can manage to seal the top. Try to make sure they are sealed properly or else the juices will explode out of the case while cooking. Also, you might not be able to take the pie out in one piece.
5. Brush a little egg on top of each pie. Bake in the oven for ~40 minutes. Once cooked, take them out and let cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to remove them from the tin. If you are lucky, you can probably just pick the pie up by the lid. If not, just use a knife to loosen up the pies and flip the pan over and hope for the best.
6. You can make this jelly to fill up the gap between the pastry and the filling. This is the tricky bit, I never quite know how much gelatin to use. The recipe calls for leaf gelatin but I have never seen it in stores. So you might want to just check out the instruction of your gelatin and how much liquid it will set and make the jelly mix. It doesn’t need to set very firm, just slightly solid. Once you have mix up the broth just pour it into the pie through the little hole. Widen the hole if you need to. Chill the pies overnight. You can eat them cold, or… I’d always prefer it warmed up.
Now you are ready to make some English friends!