Category Archives: Pie

Making Murcian Meat Pies

It’s been three years since I happened upon pictures of these pies online, and it’s taken me that long to work up the courage to make them. Now that they’re here I wish I hadn’t waited so long, as it turns out they’re one of the few savory pies my young daughters will eat! I can understand the appeal. They’re rich and crispy on the outside, satisfyingly meaty on the inside, and on top of it all are just plain fun to have on your plate. As you’ve no doubt surmised, it’s the laminated tops that are the tricky bit. Everything below that pretty much follows standard meat pie rules. Here’s how they go:

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and set a rack in the upper half of the oven. I used these little 4-inch quiche pans for the pies. Just about any small form will work here, but I liked these because they’re not only shallow they have removable bottoms.

I rolled the dough out quite thin, about 1/8-inch since these are small. I’m using a 6-inch cutter to cut my circles, which is just about perfect (remember the dough has to come up the sides as well!). If you don’t have one of these don’t worry about it, just use a pizza cutter to cut some rough circles about 6 inches across.

Gently tuck the dough into the forms…I didn’t press terribly hard since the fluted sides will be obscured by the tops.

You can trim them up a bit if you have too much overhang. You want a little there, however, to glue to your top crust.

Now I mix up my meat filling. Note that you don’t have to use one of those expensive — and salty — hams here if you don’t want to do that. If you’re using conventional ham, however, add about 1/4 teaspoons salt to the mix to ensure the mix has enough seasoning.

Place the filling into the molds. Just drop it in, don’t press it in, you don’t want it packed too tightly. Just fill them a little bit over the rim of the mold.

Add on your hard boiled egg slices. Since I want the the tops to peak a little in the center (the top crust dough will tend to settle around the filling) I’m putting the egg “ends” there.

Now for the tops. Cut roughly 1/2-inch slices off your roll of laminated dough. Use a long serrated knife that’s been lubricated with oil or melted butter. Try to cut the pieces off in two long strokes: inward-outward. Why not more? Because lots of sawing will tend to cause the dough layers in the interior of the roll to stick to one another, and that will effect your finish. You’ll have some dough left over. Save it for sfogliatelle or lobster tails!

Apply warm melted butter amply on both sides…

…and then start fanning out the layers. Massage the slice with your thumbs, pressing outward from the center.

You’ll see the outside edge will start to lean outward as the individual layers start to lay down.

You want the dough piece to be a little more than 4 inches across. Pinch the dough at the very outside of the rim to fan out the layers there. Check for any thick spots and, again, pinch.

Once the piece is big enough, apply some egg wash to the rim of the pan…

…and apply the top. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. These are rustic pies. Make that rather fussy rustic pies.

Let them rest for 10-15 minutes to relax the gluten on the tops. Bake them for about 35 minutes at 400. If after that time the top hasn’t fully browned, crank up the heat to 425 for another 5 minutes or so until they’re golden brown.

Let the finished pies cool for at least an hour to let the bottom crust firm. De-pan and serve warm with salad and some inky red Spanish wine. Nice!

Reader Jey wanted to see the inside of one. Here it is the next day after it’s been in the fridge. My top crust is a little thick…but then I’m new at this sort of lamination. I’ll get better with practice. Still an extremely tasty lunch!

Filed under:  Murcian Meat Pie, Pastry | 18 Comments

Murcian Meat Pie Recipe

Like virtually all meat pies, these can contain just about any mixture of meat scraps or leftovers you have handy: ground or shredded meat, organ meats, sausages, ham, whatever’s around. The crust is a two-part affair. The top is made from roll-laminated dough, the bottom from short crust, puff pastry or puff pastry scraps. Short crust is the most common bottom crust, or so I understand, but do as you wish. Obsessing about ingredients is against the spirit of savory pies, which are all about making do with whatever’s available. Note that if you’re using pre-cooked shredded meat you’ll probably want some sort of a binder to hold the filling together, like a beaten egg.

Please be a little patient with the quantities here since I’m not sure how much filling my pies will require. This recipe is a working draft.

For the Top Crust

Follow the same procedure for a recipe of “roll” laminated dough except use these slightly increased proportions. Roll your dough out to 38″ x 38″ and cut your sheet into SIX 6″ x 36″ strips:

19.25 ounces (3 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
3/4 + 1/8 teaspoons salt
10.75 ounces (1 and 1/3 cups) lukewarm water
3.5 ounces lard or butter, or a combination of both, soft
about another six ounces of butter and/or lard for spreading on the dough sheet

For the Bottom Crust

16 ounces savory tart crust, pie dough, puff pastry or puff pastry scraps
egg wash

For the Filling

12 ounces uncooked ground meat (veal, beef, pork or a mixture)
3 ounces shredded cooked meat (beef, chicken, pork, what-have-you)
3 ounces cooked sausage, preferably spicy, Spanish chorizo if you can get it
3 ounces chopped salty ham (Spanish serrano, Italian prosciutto or American Smithfield preferred)
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out six 4-inch tart or mini quiche pans. Roll out the dough — whatever it may be — for the bottom crust and lay it into the pans and let it rest as you prepare the filling.

For the filling combine all the ingredients save for the sliced hardboiled eggs in a large bowl. Lightly mix it all together — don’t knead it into a paste — and portion it out among the pans. Lay the egg slices on top of the meat.

Brush egg wash around the rims of the bottom crust. Slice and shape the laminated dough and place the rounds on top of the filling. Let the pies rest for 10 minutes then bake for 35 minutes until deep golden brown.

Makes six 4-inch pies

Filed under:  Murcian Meat Pie, Pastry | 16 Comments

Making Pecan Pie

Thanks to some terrific reader input I made the best pecan pie of my life yesterday. It’s the little tweaks to the recipe that really make the difference. The devastating effects of this pie were on display this morning when Mrs. Pastry’s badly shaken colleague brought the empty plate to her office. I only gave him the finished pie (minus the above piece) last evening. Evidently he set it down in front of his in-laws and something of a frenzy ensued. I don’t have full details because he was speaking rapidly and in Spanish, but it was something to the effect of: there was pie…on the ceiling…on the walls…on the windows…my God…it was horrible!

So…prepare this pie at your own risk. Begin by assembling your ingredients. First, toast the nuts. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spread them out on a sheet pan. About 7 minutes of toasting for pieces like these is perfect. I’d go closer to 9 for whole pecan halves.

While those cool make the filling. Swizzle the eggs in a bowl.

Stir in the corn syrup…

…and the vanilla. Stir with a fork, don’t whisk them, since you don’t want to create a foam which will give you an overly thick crust on the finished pie when the rubble rise to the top.

Next melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat.

Add the brown sugar…

…and stir briefly until the sugar melts. Don’t get this mixture really hot, you only want enough heat to warm it to the point that everything melts together.

Turn the burner down to low and add the egg mixture…

…followed by the vinegar.

Stir it all together gently.

Slowly heat the filling it to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring more or less constantly.

Add the toasted nuts. They’ll cool the filling, so give the pan another shot of gentle heat while the crust finishes it pre-bake.

Take the crust out of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 275. Pour the warm filling into the pre-baked shell.

Apply a pie shield and put the pie in the oven.

Bake it about 50 minutes until it no longer sloshes when you jostle the pie plate, but jiggles. Check it after 35 minutes to see how it’s coming. If the crust is too blonde at that point you can remove the pie shield so it has a chance to color.

Let it cool about 4 hours until it’s completely set. Serve!

Any syrup in there? Nope! When you want to prevent a custard from breaking, low heat does it every time.

You can do a crimped crust too if you like!

Filed under:  Pastry, Pecan Pie | 28 Comments

Pecan Pie Recipe

This pecan pie recipe incorporates lots of reader wisdom: extra nuts to keep it from getting too sweet, a toasting step for extra flavor, and a little vinegar for interest. I should add that lemon zest and bourbon also make terrific enhancements. This formula represents my best attempt to stay within the bounds of a classic pie while still incorporating what corporate types might call “best practices”. But do as you see fit!

1 recipe standard or perfect pie crust.
9 ounces (2 cups) pecan pieces
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
7.5 ounces (1 cup packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
8 ounces (3/4 cup) light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
0.65 ounce (2 teaspoons) white or cider vinegar (1-2 tablespoons of Kentucky bourbon or a heaping teaspoon of fresh lemon zest are promising alternatives)

Begin by toasting the pecans. Preheat your oven to 375 and spread the nuts out on a sheet pan or cooking sheet. Toast them for 5-8 minutes, stirring them around every so often to promote even toasting and to check that they aren’t burning. When they’re lightly toasted remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.

While the nuts are cooling, roll your dough and lay it into your pie plate. Let it sit for at least half an hour (an hour is better) to relax the gluten. Then par-bake your crust.

While the crust is baking prepare the filling. Lightly whisk the eggs in a small bowl with a fork, then stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Put the butter into a medium saucepan and melt it over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt, then the egg mixture and finally the vinegar. Gently heat the mixture until it’s warm, about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to stir it more or less constantly to keep the heat even and prevent any egg from cooking. An instant-read digital thermometer is handy here. Remove the pan from the heat when the filling is warm enough, then stir in the pecans.

Ideally you’ll have finished making the filling just as the crust is reaching doneness. However since we don’t live in an ideal world you’ll have to improvise a little, returning the pan to low heat in the couple of minutes before the crust comes out just to make sure the filling is up to temperature.

When the crust is finished turn the heat down immediately to 275. Pour the filling into the hot shell, apply a pie shield to keep the crust from over-baking, put the dish on a sheet pan and the sheet pan on a middle rack in the oven. Bake the pie about 50 minutes, checking after 40 and jostling it a little to see how the gelling is coming. When the pie is done the center should jiggle in the center like JELL-O, not slosh like mud. When it’s done remove it from the oven and cool it on a rack for several hours to make sure it sets.

Filed under:  Pastry, Pecan Pie | 12 Comments

Making Green Tomato Pie

Green tomato pie isn’t something you see very often in pie cases, but it’s a farm kitchen staple in many parts of the US. It’s a handy thing to have in your repertoire when either a.) your patch gets too prolific, or b.) cool weather and/or an early frost puts the hammer down on tomato ripening. All you need is 4-5 medium green tomatoes, or about 1 3/4 pounds, sliced about 1/4 inch thick.

Prepare your crust and get ready to roll and shape according to these directions here. Once your tomatoes are sliced, prepare the rest of the filling. Combine 1 cup (7 ounces of sugar) with 3 tablespoons (about an ounce) of instant tapioca plus 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a few gratings of nutmeg. Have 1-2 tablespoons of either fresh lemon juice or cider vinegar at the ready. Why are we using tapioca as a thickener instead of corn starch? Because corn starch doesn’t do well in high acid environments.

So then, sprinkle some of the sugar mixture on the bottom crust…

…and add a layer of tomato slices. A lot of people like to add a few golden raisins here and there for color and texture contrast, I’m one of them. Keep alternating tomatoes and the sugar mixture. When the shell is half full, sprinkle on a little lemon juice or vinegar. Sprinkle on a little more when the shell is heaping full.

Add your top crust, cut your steam vents and crimp. Let the pie sit for at least 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Apply a pie shield to protect the crust, place the pie on a sheet pan and the sheet pan in the oven. Bake for 1 hour until the pie is lightly golden and the filling is bubbling in the steam vents.

Cool at least two hours — 4 is better — before serving. I took this to a party so I couldn’t slice it for you. Sorry about that.

Filed under:  Green Tomato Pie, Pastry | 23 Comments

I cannot tell a lie…

I scarfed the whole thing down while watching reruns of River Monsters last night. But you’d do the same if a quart of Michigan sour cherries dropped in your lap one August afternoon, don’t tell me you wouldn’t! Anyway I’m not sorry because tart cherry pie is, in the parlance of the kids today, tha bomb. Shape yours in the same way I did here for peach pie. Combine all your ingredients, save for the crust of course, in a large bowl and stir it all together.

Pour it into your pie shell and cut your vents, then let the pie rest for a minimum of half an hour to prevent shrinkage. Don’t worry, your runny filling won’t soak in, even though this is an unbaked crust. For extra insurance you could sprinkle a light dusting of tapioca or a little agar or something on the crust before you pour the cherry mixture in, but only if you plan on resting the unbaked pie for over an hour. After resting apply your pie shield to prevent the crust from over-browning and bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, then 30 minutes or so at 350.

If you like you can paint on some egg wash for a little extra color. I generally like my fruit pie crusts blonde and rustic, but do what you like (just don’t glue your vent holes shut)!

Allow it to cool at least a couple of hours before cutting it to allow the filling to gel fully. Serve this warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and your guests will pass out.

Filed under:  Cherry Pie, Pastry | 29 Comments

Cherry Pie Recipe

My father loves sour cherry pie so much he planted a cherry tree in our back yard when I was a kid. I can still remember how he draped the thing with nets to keep invading birds out…and the hours my twin sister and I spent pitting cherries for pies. Oh, the stains our our school uniforms! But it was worth it since there’s nothing quite like a good sour cherry pie. To make one you’ll need:

1 recipe standard pie crust
4 cups pitted sour cherries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup sugar
generous pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl. Shape and fill your pie according to the directions for peach pie, just, you know, using a different filling. Preheat your oven to 425 while the shaped pie is resting. Apply a pie shield a bake for 20 minutes at 425, then turn the oven down and bake a further 25-35 at 350. Cool and enjoy with ice cream!

Filed under:  Cherry Pie, Pastry | 13 Comments

Making Lemon Meringue Pie

This is what you call a classic American lemon meringue pie: a light, frothy-sweet baked egg foam above, a tart and creamy curd filling below, all heaped up on a delicate crumb (or traditional) pie crust. Not much not to like here in my opinion. Indeed lemon meringue consistently ranks about fifth on the list of the America’s favorite pies. It would probably rank higher if more people made this pie at home, but its reputation for fussiness scares a lot of home bakers away.

That reputation is deserved to some extent. Under-baked meringue toppings often cause weeping, and are quite common as the very center of the pie is hard to fully heat without breaking the lemon custard (which causes another kind of weeping). Large pools of syrup are commonly found in pie plates, either upon cutting or the next day after any leftovers have had a chance to sit. The process below is designed to avoid that problem, and it works very well. However it is something of a dance, so I strongly encourage you to have all of your ingredients and component parts prepared and laid out on the counter before you begin. There’ll be much less confusion that way.

Ready? Then let’s begin. Start by preheating your oven to 350 and getting everything prepped and ready for the meringue. First order of business: the cornstarch goo that will serve as your meringue stabilizer. Combine the cornstarch and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Like my all-wood cooktop? It’s the latest thing.

Swizzle.

And when the mixture starts to clear and thicken, remove it from the heat. Set it aside to cool.

Now combine cream of tartar and sugar. Just a little whisking will do the trick.

Put your egg whites in the bowl of your mixer or in a whipping bowl. Yes, I know my copper egg bowl is covered with tarnish spots. I’m sure Martha Stewart’s is immaculate if you’d rather go over there. Sheesh!

With all that ready, prepare the lemon curd filling. Put the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and stir them together.

Add the water and the lemon juice. Set that over medium heat and bring it to the boil.

Meanwhile, swizzle your yolks in a medium bowl. We’re about to make our curd.

Whisk the lemon juice mixture as it heats. When it starts to thicken and clarify, you know it’s time to combine it with your yolks.

Pour about half of it into the yolks to temper them (i.e. bring them gently up to temperature). Yep, it’s thick and goopy.

Whisk the mixture…

…then pour it from the bowl into the saucepan.

Set the saucepan back on the heat and whisk in the butter and lemon zest. Whisk until the thick mixture starts to boil: plop, plop, plop.

Remove it from the heat right away to prevent curdling, then set a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming.

Tired yet? We’re almost at the finish line. All we need to do is whip up our meringue. Whip the whites until they’re good and frothy, then add the sugar mixture in a heavy stream…more or less all at once. The early addition of the sugar will yield a slightly denser and more stable meringue.

It’ll take almost a full minute to get to soft peaks because sugared whites take on air more slowly, but you’ll get there. When you get peaks that are tall yet still flop over — see below — add the cornstarch goo stabilizer…

…and whip another 20 seconds or so to stiff peaks.

Now to assemble. You want the filling hot for this, so depending on how long you took to whip up the meringue, you might want to give the filing another shot of heat. Remove the plastic wrap and return it to the burner until…plop plop…it starts boiling again. Whisk it as it boils for about five seconds then pour it into the shell. Hmm…this pie plate says “pumpkin” to me more than “lemon”…where IS that Martha when I need her?

Give it a quick level with a spatula…

…then dump on the meringue all at once and promptly spread it around, all the way out to the crust edges. Use broad strokes to spread it evenly and give it a little decorative swirl if you’re so inclined (I wasn’t).

Get it straight away into the preheated oven and bake it for 20 minutes until it looks about like this:

There now, that wasn’t so hectic, was it? Allow the pie to cool completely — at least two hours — before you serve it because the custard needs time to set up. The first piece or two will be a little sloppy, but after that they should hold their shape nicely.

So what about the weeping problem? Well, because this procedure is designed to heat the middle and cook it before it even goes into the oven, you should have little to worry about. The cornstarch goo stabilizer also does a great job of maintaining the integrity of the meringue without compromising the flavor or texture. Here’s what my pan looked like after the leftovers sat in the fridge overnight:

A single drop of syrup at the very tip there. Close enough for jazz, as they say. Of course any meringue pie is best on the day it’s made, but I was surprised at how well this help up in the fridge. The curd had mellowed a bit as well. Now that’s what I call breakfast!

Filed under:  Lemon Meringue, Pastry | 27 Comments

Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Lemon meringue pie is a basically a citrus curd pie save for the fact that the “curd” is made with a mixture of water and juice (instead of all juice), and it’s thickened with cornstarch. The water provides added volume (and frankly also keeps the flavor of the filling from becoming overwhelming) and the cornstarch provides thickening as well as insurance against curdling in the oven. This recipe — which steals tricks from both Rose Levy Beranbaum and Cook’s Illustrated — combines a deep pie with a break-resistant American-style meringue.

For the crust

One recipe crumb or conventional (pre-baked) pie crust

For the Meringue

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2.5 ounces (scant 1/3 cup) water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
4 egg whites

For the Filling

3 ounces cornstarch (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
10.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 egg yolks
16 ounces water (2 cups)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter

Procedure

Prepare the crumb crust mixture and press it into a 9″ pie pan. Alternately, prepare and pre-bake a conventional pie crust in a 9″ pie pan.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prep for the meringue step at this point. Combine the cornstarch and the water in a small saucepans bring it to a simmer, just at the point it starts to thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and set the mixture aside. Now’s also a good time to put your egg whites in a medium bowl (if you’re using a hand mixer) or in the bowl a mixer fitted with the whip. Also, whisk together the sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl.

Now prepare the filling. Whisk the yolks together in a medium bowl. Whisk together the sugar, salt and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the water and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat (it will start to thicken). Pour about half the hot mixture over the egg yolks and whisk vigorously to combine, then return everything to the saucepan. Whisk in the zest and the butter, and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Immediately remove it from the heat and set the pan aside, placing plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Promptly prepare the meringue. Whip the whites until they’re very frothy and have a little body to them, then whip in the sugar mixture. By then the whites will be at soft peaks. Add the cornstarch mixture and keep whipping to stiff peaks.

Lastly, assemble. Take the plastic off the filling and pour it into the prepared shell. Then immediately spread the meringue over the filling, making sure you get some over the crust edges (so it won’t pull away as it bakes). Bake it 20 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned. Cool it completely and serve the same day.

Filed under:  Lemon Meringue, Pastry | 10 Comments

Making Pork Pies

I have to admit, these Melton Mowbray-style pork pies aren’t something you just throw together, but for the serious pork pie enthusiast they are well worth the time and effort. To make them the old-fashioned way you’ll need an old-fashioned piece of equipment called a pie dolly plus some rendered leaf lard, for without good quality lard the side walls of the pie won’t stand up in the oven. Oh yes friends, these pies are baked free-standing, didn’t you know? Forms are for sissies. At least they are in Melton Mowbray.

That said you absolutely can adapt this recipe to more conventional ingredients and equipment. A standard hot water pie crust or even an American-style pie crust can be used along with a muffin tin or other form. They’ll come together in an afternoon. Personally, once I read about this technique I couldn’t resist trying it, even if it took three days. The result was the pork pie of the gods.

On day one you’ll need to make your hot water dough and let it chill for at least four hours or overnight (which is better). Next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm back up to room temperature, about three hours. What’s the point of the chilling? To hydrate the flour but more importantly to re-firm the fat, since the firm fat helps keep the pie walls standing. But of course too firm is no good for rolling, so it needs to come back to room temperature at which point the fat will still be firm but plastic, and that’s what you want for shaping.

When you’re ready to shape, make your filling. Assemble the ingredients and combine the pork, bacon, salt pepper, spices an anchovy paste (the secret ingredient) in a food processor.

Pulse until the meat is chopped well, but no further. You don’t want it reduced to a paste. Set that aside while you get the dough ready.

Produce your pie dolly and a round cutter (from a cutter set) that’s a bit larger than the circumference of the dolly.

Now separate about a quarter of the dough and roll it to a little less that 1/4″ thick.

Cut out five circles (assuming your dolly is about the same size as mine) and reserve the scraps.

Poke a hole in the centers with a dowel or some other device. Here I’m using a funnel, which is just about perfect, even though the holes it makes aren’t perfectly round. Who cares?

They look good to me!

Now for the shaping. This is really fun. Take a 4.5-ounce piece of dough…

…roll it into a ball…

…and pat it down into a circle.

Now apply the pie dolly and press down hard. I mean really hard…like lean well over it and put your weight on it. You’re trying to crush the center down to about 1/4 inch. If you’re unsure how you’re doing just take the dolly off, pick up the dough and pinch it. If it’s thicker that a pie bottom ought to be, keep pressing. You may get a couple of big splits, that’s not a problem.

Once the bottom is thin enough, it’s time to shape the sides. Here I should say you want to use as little flour as you possibly can. Flour really won’t help with sticking and will create a flat, flaky finish on the outside of the crust when the pie is baked. A very slight dusting is all the more you need. Now then. Plant your thumbs on the top of the dolly…

…and start squeezing with your pinkies, firmly and steadily stretching the dough up the sides. Take your time…there’s no hurry here. Press together any splits in the dough, without extra flour on the dough they’ll come together easily.

After a few minutes of pressing and rotating the dolly, it’ll look about like this.

Now slip off the dolly and…your shell is done. I noticed that some of my pie shells came off more easily that others. One stuck pretty seriously, so I used a wooden coffee stirrer to loosen it. It came off easily after that. Should your walls get compacted during removal, just pinch them thin again.

Plop a ball of filling in…enough to come within about 3/4″ from the rim. The apply a top. If it’s not big enough, roll it a little more the pin.

Pinch it all the way around to seal.

You can leave it like that, press the edge with a fork to give it a decorative frill, or curl it over, which is what I did.

Once that’s done it’s time to rest the pies for a minimum of three hours, though overnight is better. The long rest not only relaxes the dough, it chills the filling thoroughly, and that’s important because a nicely chilled center will help keep the fat in the walls cool even after the pie has gone into the oven. And that’s important. Why? Because the residual chill will help keep interior of the wall firm while the oven’s heat gelates and sets the starch on the exterior. The result being that the unusually tall walls stay up without bowling outward or compressing. Pretty neat.

Now then, when it’s time to bake preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (the high heat will set the outside of the crust quickly). Paint the pies with egg wash and promptly get them in the oven.

Bake them on a middle rack for half an hour, until they start taking on color. Open the oven, rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 350. Keep baking at least another half an hour until the pies are golden and a thermometer inserted into the middle of the pie through the ventilation hole registers 180 or more. If the crust starts getting too dark, tent them with tin foil.

Allow the pies to cool completely. At this point you can eat them, or press on and add the final touch that marks a true Melton Mowbray-style pork pie: the “jelly”. Adding that means another deep chill in the fridge. A minimum of three hours though — say it will me — overnight is better. Why is this important? Because your gelatin-rich stock will be very fluid before you pour it in. to prevent it running out all over the place — as it will even through a well-formed crust — it needs to firm fast. A very cold pie will chill it quick. Pour it in until it reaches the top. I couldn’t get pork bones at the butcher so this is some home-made chicken stock. Works every bit as well. If you really like jelly in your pork pies, do a second application after about five minutes to make sure it completely fill sin the interior gaps.

The good news is that after this step they’re ready to eat as the jelly takes only about five or ten minutes to set. Of course, allowing them to warm for an hour or so is best. I know, it’s even more waiting, but friends you’ll be happy you did. Pour yourself a pint of good ale, cut a piece, close your eyes and pretend you’re in the Midlands.

Cheers!

Filed under:  Pastry, Pork Pie | 12 Comments