#282 Raised Pies

Is there anyone who doesn’t like a pie made with hot-water pastry? Everyone, I say, from the Mayor of Melton Mowbray to, er, Sweeney Todd. Oh, except for vegetarians. They’re so quintessentially English and I’ve not seen anything remotely close here in Texas. I must admit I’ve been putting off making these pies – I’d never made one before and I knew that it would take a lot of time, and presumably, effort. However, I felt I was ready – and so I should be because there are several to do in this book so I need the practice. Hopefully I’ll get it right first time.
So, for those of you not in the know, a raised pie is a pie made from pastry using boiling water and lard, unlike shortcrust pastry that is kept as cold as possible. Hot water pastry achieves a putty-like consistency that allows the pie mould or tin to be moulded and raised up the sides of the tin, rather than rolled. The hot water makes the pastry very absorbent too; you need this as the filling cooks and releases juices. Normal pastry that contains butter would just turn into a sloppy mess. Raised pies became crazily over-the-top in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Elizabeth Raffald’s receipt for a Yorkshire Goose Pie gives the following instructions:
Take a large fat goose, split it down the back and take all the bones out. Bone a turkey and two ducks the same way, season them very well with pepper and salt, with six woodcocks
You don’t get pies like that in Yorkshire nowadays, I can tell you. Imagine the meat sweats you’d get from a slice of that!
The raised pie hasn’t quite fallen out of favour in Britain these days – I’m sure Melton Mowbray pork pies are as popular as ever, but that’s all you generally see now. The book proffers more, and I shall be adding them as I go. The basics are: Pork Pie; Veal, Ham and Egg Pie; Raised Mutton Pies; and Game, Chicken or Rabbit Pie. They all have the same basic parts: the pastry, the jellied stock and the filling itself.
It all seems a bit complicated, but it’s not really. In this post I’ll deal with the construction and baking of the pie. The jellied stock and the fillings can have their own posts (these are coming in the next day or two).
Begin by making the hot water pastry. Bring a third of a pint of water and six ounces of lard to the boil. In the meantime, weigh out a pound of flour and place in a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt. When boiling, tip the water and fat into the flour and mix quickly – electric beaters are the best for this, but don’t use a high speed as the pastry won’t bind properly. To enrich this pastry add an egg, or a tablespoon of icing sugar. Cover the dough and leave until it cools enough to handle, but don’t let it cool down completely. Take three-quarters of the pastry and put it in a six or seven inch cake tin with removable base. You can buy fancy hinged raised pie moulds – they are quite expensive though, but they are beautiful (see this link). Quickly, but carefully, mould the pie by gently pushing the pastry up the sides of the mould or tin until it overlaps the lip, making sure there are no holes or tears. If it just flops down, then it is too hot. Wait five minutes and try again.
If you want to make small pies, you can mould the pastry around the outside of a wide rolling pin or a jam jar. This method is required for the mutton pies. This is alot trickier apparently. So unless you can avoid it, do the big pie.
Now you can start on the jellied stock and prepare your pie filling. Pack the filling well into the raised crust.
…if it mounds up above the rim, so much the better.
Roll out a lid with the remaining pastry and fix in place with a little beaten egg, making a hole in the centre for steam to escape. Decorate the pie with leaves and roses using pastry trimmings. It’s strange that savoury pies have the ornate decorations in England and that the sweet ones are left plain. I don’t know why this is. Anyway…. Brush the lid with more egg (don’t throw unused egg away, you’ll need it later).
Bake in the oven for half an hour at 200°C (400°F) to colour the top, and then lower the temperature to 160°C (325°F) for two hours for large pies and just one hour for small pies – you need this time for the meat to cook and become tender. Watch the pie doesn’t brown too much though – if it needs a little protection, cover with some brown or wax paper. Remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for thirty minutes before removing it from its mould very carefully. Brush the sides with beaten egg and return it to the oven for a final half an hour to brown and crisp up.
Whilst the pie cooked, the meat shrank, so the gaps need filling with the jelled stock. This can be carefully poured through the hole in the lid, or better using a small funnel. Let the pie cool and eat the next day. The pie will keep for days wrapped in wax paper and kept somewhere cool.
#282 Raised Pies. It won’t write a review for this recipe – I’ll save that for the fillings. However, it is worth saying that although making a pie like this is no mean feat, it is worth having a go. I had such fun pottering about the kitchen making my first riased pie (the Veal, Ham and Egg Pie). But then, I am a great big geek. Anyway, hopefully I have inspired you to give it a go, if not at least appreciate how much effort goes into these beautiful and delicious artisan pies.

#71 Rolls Filled with Cheese and Tomato Paste

Next up for the picnic – Rolls Filled with Cheese and Tomato Paste. A perfect thing to take out on trips etc., reckons the Grigson; and she is correct! Looking at the recipe, I though it was a bit of a faff to prepare, when you could just have a cheese and tomato buttie. Jane suggests using bridge rolls – I have no idea what they are, but small baguettes seem to do the same job.

Greg sneaking in sarnie before dinner

For six: Slice 6 small baguettes in half longways and scoop out as much of the bread from inside as possible without creating any holes in the bread; breadcrumb the scooped-out bread in a food processor. Next, chop a small onion very finely, and soften gently in 2 ounces of butter. Chop up three skinned tomatoes and add to the mixture – you may want to add a tablespoon of tomato puree and some sugar at this point, unless you grow your own tomatoes, or live in Spain. Simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes, until all is quite thick. Whisk in the egg and keep stirring until the sauce thickens even more – don’t let it boil or the eggs will scramble. Take off the heat and stir in 2 ounces of grated Cheddar cheese, and the breadcrumbs – don’t add them all at once, you may not need them all. Season with salt and pepper and stir in a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Fill the rolls with the paste along with a layer of something green – lettuce, watercress, or whatever.


#71 Rolls Filled with Cheese and Tomato Paste – 6.5/10. They are certainly bizarre but very good, at first I wasn’t sure if I liked them, but as I scoffed away as I walked about, I decided that I did. Though I’m not sure if a ‘normal’ cheese and tomato sarnie is better. They went oddly well with lagers that Jono brought along.

#70 Cornish Pasties

When we all thought about going out for the day picnicking, the first thing I thought of making was a Cornish pasty; easy to make and easy to eat. The whole idea is that they are hardy. I’d never made one before, but knew that it was pretty straight forward…

Start off by making the pastry. Cornish pasty pastry should be made with lard as the only fat, apparently. Grigson doesn’t give much instruction on how to make pastry other than, fat and flour are to be used in a ratio of 1:2. To make two large pasties I used a pound of flour and 8 ounces of chilled, cubed lard. It sounds a lot, but these are big pasties! Start off by rubbing the flour into the fat, along with a pinch of salt. Use the tips of your fingers, or the appropriate attachment on your food mixer. I usually go for the mixer as it doesn’t make the fat warm up like fingertips do. Don’t be tempted to put the mixer on a high speed; use the lowest setting possible (see review, below). Let the pastry rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop up a pound of beef – use skirt, chuck, or as I did, top rib. Make sure all the fat and gristle is cut off. Chop a four-ounce onion, and thinly slice 3 ounces of turnip and 8 ounces of potato. Mix the vegetables and meat in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper – do not skimp – plus a pinch of fresh or dried thyme.

pasty filling

Divide the pastry into two and roll one half to the size of a large dinner plate, pile in half the mixture in a line down the centre of the pastry circle, pull up the sides and crimp them together using water as glue.

pasty crimp
Place it on a baking tray and brush with egg. Repeat with the other half. Bake for 20 minutes at 200ºC, then turn down the oven to 180ºC for a further 40 minutes.

#70 Cornish Pasty – 2/10. The first disaster of the project! I’ve given the recipe because I know what I did wrong – because I was making such a large amount of pastry, I tried to hurry it along by turning the speed of my mixer too high. The result of this is the fat didn’t form ‘breadcrumbs’, it softens too early and doesn’t get incorporated properly. If you are making it, heed my advice! It would perhaps make two lots of pastry, using half the required amounts of fat and flour. The filling was delicious , but the pastry turned into dust, I couldn’t even get them of the baking tray without them collapsing. Instead I ate the filling with a spoon, and threw the rest in the bin. I am going to try them again next week.*

pasty baked

*and I eventually did and that’s what the photos are of – just to prove they can be made properly! Neil – August 20202

A Trip to the Sticks

Off me and Greg went along with Joff to see Sarah, Jono and the Georgeling, plus Ben and Katy in Barnton. The idea being that Jono, Joff and I would go off birding and everyone else would go to the outdoor pool. We would eat picnic food and then a meze tea. This being August and the North of England did mean that it pissed it down. Rubbish. We still got a chance to do a bit of birding, but it was all a bit grim, though a sandpiper was spotted, and you don’t one of those everyday in the centre of Manchester.

I thought that I would do a trinity of Grigson recipes: Cornish pasties, cheese and tomato paste rolls and a Madeira cake. Of course, I made all these in advance didn’t know the weather would be pants, also I turned up sans Cornish pasty, as they turned out to be a total disaster!

Luckily, Sarah’s meze food was not a disaster, but brilliant. She’s been doing loads of cooking, much more than me and we’re thinking of starting up a dinner club where we all make a course each. Also, we watched You’ve Been Framed and pissed our pants, whilst it was pissing it down outside.

Anyways, the recipes…