An English classic
Homemade pork pies
Pork pies are so common in the UK you take them for granted. When we moved across the pond to the land of fast food and vast food, these traditional pies of America’s forefathers suddenly disappeared out of sight altogether. You can’t buy them and no one here has ever heard of them. What about the rest of the British favorites such as Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, steak and kidney pies, etc.? Maybe their extinction can be explained by the same theory as the dinosaurs – they got hit by meteorites lol!
However, in the fall, you would see parades of pumpkin and apple pies wafting their strong cinnamon smell as you walk through the supermarket door. So, I gather savoury pies aren’t a big thing here in America and if you want them, you have to make them yourself. So, I’m including this recipe from my daughter who is largely influenced by The Great British Bake Off cooking. Thanks to her godmother who kindly bought and shipped her the book for her 14th birthday that turned her into a fan of British cookery. And afterall, she is British!
The pork pie is characterized by a small hole on top for gelatin stock to be poured in after the pie is baked. The gelatine helps to bind the ingredients together when it sets and also keep the inside of the pie moist.
Lonely pork pie
What’s interesting about this pastry is that it’s made with hot water and hence referred to as the hot water pastry. Hot water crust is traditionally used for making hand-raised pies. According to the rules, you shouldn’t overwork pastry as it will develop gluten too quickly and give the pastry a chewy texture.
Pork pie sawn in half
pork pies are made either with fresh ground pork or cured meat but here, our innovative chef Charis has chosen a piece of quality ham which she conveniently chopped into little cubes and packed into the pies. The result was fantastic. The nice thing about the pies is they can be served hot or cold, either as a snack or part of a meal.
200 grams (7 oz) Plain flour
40 grams (1.5 oz) Bread flour
50 grams (1/2 stick or 2 oz) Unsalted butter at room temperature
60 grams (2.1 oz) Lard
1 teaspoon Salt
100 ml Boiling water
1 Egg,beaten for glazing
1 Small cube chicken stock (no msg)
1 Packet gelatin
The hot water crust pastry dough should be glossy and still warm
Method: to Make the pastry
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375F).
2. Sift the flours and put in a mixer with the butter. Switch on the mixer and let it run until the flour resembles fine bread crumbs. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can rub the soft butter into the flour with your finger tips.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour in a mixing bowl.
4. Melt the lard in a pan (gently).
5. Add the salt to the boiling water and stir to dissolve, then add the lard and combine the mixture by stirring.
6. Pour the hot water lard mixture into the well of the flour and using a wooden spoon gradually mix until a dough is formed.
7. Lightly flour the working surface and while dough is still warm quickly work it into a ball. Don’t overwork the dough and if it is still lumpy, let it cool slightly and try again.
8. Roll out to a thin layer (3 mm) and cut out six 20 cm pastry rounds and another six 15 cm pastry rounds.
Method: to Make the pies
1. Grease the sides of a muffin tray.
2. Line each tray with a small circle of grease proof paper. You can make these by folding grease paper into quarter sections and cutting circular shapes (15 cm diameter). This will prevent pies from sticking to the tray so they can be easily removed without breaking the pastry.
3. Gently line the holes in the muffin tray with the 20cm pastry rounds and pull the sides up. Do this ever so gently so you don’t stretch or break the pastry.
4. Now fill the pastry with chopped ham and roughly a quarter section of a boiled egg in each pie. You can add chopped onions to the filling if you like but it isn’t necessary.
5. Now close the pastry with the 15 cm pastry round. Crimp the edges with a fork.
6. Before the pie goes in the oven, make a hole in the center of the pastry using a cake decorating piping nozzle.
7. Glaze the pastry with beaten egg.
8. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
9. Meantime dissolve the gelatin with the stock cube according to packet instruction.
10. When the pies are cooked, remove from oven and allow them to cool slightly.
11. Finally add the gelatin stock. To store, allow the pies to cool and refrigerate overnight. Consume within a couple of days.