Sunday 21 October 2012

My first hand raised pie

So, every Tuesday for the past 12 weeks at 8pm, I've settled on the sofa with a cuppa a nice posh biccie to watch the Great British Bake Off.  I was attracted to the first series by Paul Hollywood, when he was lesser known, but I remembered him from a poor day time show on the food channel about 10 years ago and I was ready for a new weekly dose of those too-blue eyes.  By series 3 though he's gone a bit pantomime villain, the twinkle in his eyes now more an evil glint!  However I do find GBBO addictive viewing - just waiting for the disasters and feeling sure "I could do better"

Well, one of the technical challenges this year had me thinking - but can I?  Although I've eaten my fair share of pork pies - from the lack luster late night garage effort in hunger desperation to the more artisan variety at your local food fayre - I've never made a hot water crust pasty myself.  So, in order to see if indeed I could do better - I had a go at the turkey, apricot and bacon (OK so I didn't have any bacon) hand raise pie they cooked on the show.

I saw them all struggle to get their pies off their dollies and when I checked out the recipe, I thought I found one of the reasons - Mr Hollywood specifies a mix of lard and butter for the fat content of the pie, which to me didn't seem right, and checking that "has never failed me in 30 years" stalwart of every kitchen, the good old Bero cookbook, my suspicion was confirmed.  Traditional hot water crust is only made with lard - no butter.  Butter at room temperature is soft, lard isn't, so it stands to reason that a pastry made with butter will be too soft to easily come off a dolly and hold its free form shape.  So the above is just lard - it's a very strange texture if you've never made it - feeling hot pastry in your hands is so against all the things you've been taught about cold hands and chilling - but it's actually not as daunting as you might think!  You don't even need a dolly - just use an empty jam jar - if your pastry does stick on chilling, then the jar has an added bonus on the dolly - you can add hot water for a few seconds to allow it slip off easily ;-)

Then cram it full of filling - in this case simply diced turkey seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper with a layer of apricots in the middle.  Add a lid with a little hole for your jelly, brush with egg wash and bake.  I don't think my husband has ever been so excited by the smell of something in the oven and so eager to eat it as soon as it came out.

As you can see from the cut pie - it wasn't the perfect bake - no soggy bottoms but a little too thick in places so it was under baked in a couple of spots.  The observant amongst you may also spot a lack of jelly - well that's because whenever I eat a pork pie, I dissect it and remove the god-awful stuff so there was no way I was ruining it with something I had to take out.  Also, the aforementioned husband may have started to eat the duvet if he'd had to wait for 24 hours to let it set........