Pies! Surely the colder darker months of autumn and winter were designed simply to allow us to indulge in our love of pies in all of their delicious forms. There are regular closed pies (or double crusted pies as our American friends refer to them), those with a lattice crust, and even open pies like tarts and flans. There are hand raised pies, galettes, pasties and simple plate pies. There are small dinky individual pies. And large family pies. There are those made with buttery puff pastry where the flakes melt in the mouth and crumbs fall down the cleavage. There are those made with shortcrust pastry and sturdy pies made with hotwater crust. In fact there’s probably sufficient variety of pies to enable us to enjoy one every day before the Spring Equinox comes around again. Mmmm pies!!
Did Henry VIII eat all the pies!?!?
When this week’s GBBO episode, which was Tudor week, challenged the remaining five bakers to make a display of shaped pies in the signature bake it was a relatively easy decision to allow Mr E & I to indulge in our love of pies and pastry as part of the Bloggers’ Bake Along challenge. That said the technical shaped biscuits, called Jumbles, intrigued me and the marzipan of the showstopper Marchpane challenge almost reeled me in. I mean, other than Mr E, who doesn’t love marzipan!
Now, some of you may know already that I’m a Yorkshire lass and Mr E a Lancashire lad. So when hubby explained that the Tudor Rose was designed to mark the end of the War of the Roses between the white rose of Yorkshire and the red rose of Lancashire (though back in those days it was often displayed as a gold rose) I knew that my bake needed to reflect the two neighbouring counties and the easiest way to define the two counties, in our opinion, was through flavour rather than colouring the pies white and red.
The Lancashire element of our display was inspired by the humble Lancashire Hotpot which is a hearty stew like meal packed with lamb, kidney, a handful of carrots & onions and topped with sliced potato. Living in a vegetarian household, though, this carnivore lover’s rib-sticker clearly needed modifying. Our Vegetarian Lancashire Hotpot Pies were layered with sliced potatoes which had been cooked in a vegetarian gravy enhanced with thyme and garlic, carrot & swede mash and quorn mince which was flavoured with onion and thyme. The pie shell was made with a vegetarian hotwater crust pastry which is beautifully robust, easy to make, prevents leaks and therefore soggy bottoms, and is absolutely scrumptious!
We made 4 of these Vegetarian Lancashire Hotpot Pies housed in a hotwater crust pastry, which were shared with my parents. We served ours with a celeriac mash and peas, and proved to be hearty and filling. Just the ticket for a chilly autumn evening meal. My parents warmed theirs through the following lunch time and served them simply with baked beans. It was a delicious meal, and I only wish the light hadn’t dropped so early to have prevented me from capturing the colours and defined layers of the filling within.
For the Yorkshire element of our pie display we made Mini Wensleydale Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tarts. The British Cheese Board tells us that Wensleydale cheese has been made since 1150, and so certainly pre-dated the Tudor period. These mini tarts were based on a traditional recipe, Wensleydale Cheese Tart, which we’d thoroughly enjoyed back in the spring. Those had been made slightly larger and were served with a simple green salad. At the time of first trying these tarts we thought that a chutney of some sort would be a great addition to the cheese tart. Whether it’s cheese and chutney or cheese and onion, it’s such a classic flavour combo and certainly a crowd pleaser. The addition of the onion chutney was certainly a huge success in this bake, complementing the cheese and bringing an extra flavour dimension to these savoury mini cheese tarts.
These Mini Wensleydale Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tarts are perfect either mimicing the petals of a flower(!) or to serve as part of a buffet to hungry guests. They’re straightforward to make, and could be made even easier if ready made pastry shells were purchased. The recipe also lends itself to adjusting the size of the tarts, either to individual ones which are perfect for a meal when served with a side salad or a larger family sized one for sharing.
So, lets get to it and baaake!
These individual vegetarian pies are inspired by the Lancashire hotpot. The straightforward hotwater crust pastry is filled with layers of potato, quorn and carrot & swede mash.
Hands on time: about 45 mins Cook time: 30-40 mins Yield: 4 individual pies
4 x Dariole Moulds (ours hold 6 fl oz / 160ml)
For the Hotwater Crust Pastry
- 130g Plain Flour
- 50g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for rolling
- pinch Salt
- 37g + 45g Butter, unsalted & chilled
- 75ml Boiling Water
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
For the Filling
- 1 large or 2 medium Potatoes
- 1 Vegetable Oxo Cube
- 2 + 2 Thyme Sprigs
- 1 Garlic Clove (or squirt of garlic puree)
- 2 medium Carrots, diced
- 3/4 smallish Swede, diced
- knob of Butter
- 1 dessert spoon Vegetable / Sunflower Oil
- 1 small Onion, finely chopped
- 100g Quorn Mince
- 1 dessert spoon Plain Flour
9. Fill the pies. Use a teaspoon to add some of the mashed carrot & swede mixture. Top with a slice of potato. Spoon over some of the quorn mixture. Add some more of the carrot and swede mash. Be generous, bringing it almost to the top of the pie case.10. Cover with the pastry lids. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry. Use a plain round biscuit cutter (78mm) to cut 4 pastry discs. You may need to re-roll the pastry off cuts for the fourth lid. Carefully lift a pastry disc and place on top of a pie. Use your two index fingers and thumb to crimp the edge of the pastry to seal. Use a paring knife to cut an air hole in the pastry lid. Repeat with the remaining three pies. 11. Bake. Use a pastry brush to paint a little of the beaten egg over the pie crust. Place the pies onto a baking tray and sit them in the centre of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes. You may need to rotate them after 30 minutes of cooking. Once golden and cooked through remove them from the oven, gently tip the pies from the dariole moulds. If the sides of the pies are a little pale, place them directly onto the baking tray and return them to the oven (without the dariole moulds) for a couple of minutes. Serve as desired. 12. Enjoy!
a) Use drinking glasses if you don’t have plain biscuit cutters b) Once assembled, the uncooked pies can be placed in the fridge after step 10. c) Avoid getting the egg wash over the edge of the dariole mould as this may cause the pie to stick to the mould during the bake, making it difficult to remove it.
cooked pastry cases are filled with caramelised onion chutney and a simple cheese sauce before being topped with breadcrumbs and more cheese and flashed under the grill.
Hands on time: 30 mins Cook time: about 22 mins Yield: 10 small tarts
Mini Tart Tins (ours were fluted and measured 6cm x 2cm)
For the Pastry
- 120g Plain Flour
- pinch Salt
- 60g Butter, unsalted & chilled
- Cold Water
For the Filling
- 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
- 2 x 25g Butter
- 25g Plain Flour
- pinch Grated Nutmeg
- 200ml Milk
- 60g + 30g Wensleydale Cheese
- Caramelised Onion Chutney (either homemade or shop bought)