Archive for April, 2017

Hot Water Crust Meat Pie

Friday, April 28th, 2017

So, apparently it’s a British thing… I had never heard of a hot water crust until I started watching the Great British Baking Show.  But, in the first season, the contestants were challenged to do a 3-tiered pie and I was amazed to see them unmold pies from springform pans and stack them on top of each other for service, so I figured I’d give it a try.

I’ve got to say, I was somewhat uncertain about trying the hot water crust based on what Cook’s Illustrated has to say on the topic of this kind of crust: “When we compared a hot-water crust in several recipes…with our Foolproof Pie Dough… we understood why it might not have been eaten in the past. …[S]ome tasters called it “mealy”…. While a hot-water crust is simple to prepare and easy to work with, stick with our Foolproof Pie Dough if you want pastry worth eating.”

Having taken their opinion into account, though, I checked out a few British sources for an authentic recipe and settled on one from the BBC, though, of course, I didn’t follow it precisely.

  1. I rendered beef suet to use in the crust, because I was out of fat back to render for lard and also because I was making a beef pot pie.
  2. I cut the amount of suet used in half and substituted butter for the other half because I was concerned that 100% beef fat would be too much.
  3. I added some salt, hers, and spices to the recipe to add some flavor in (and perhaps battle against the shortcomings that Cook’s Illustrated perceived).
The end result was good.  It was a bit mealy, but I think that’s okay for a savory pie.  The crust baked up crisp on all sides, and the pie unmolded from the springform pan quite easily, straight from the oven.  The pieces held their form when cut, and the overall result was quite pleasing.
In case you’d like to give it a try, here’s the general recipe I followed.  SO sorry to give the figures in grams, but that’s the Brits (and the rest of the world) for you, they follow this crazy thing called the metric system that no one outside of a lab around here seems to have any use for :)
Pie Crust
  • 100g Beef Fat (or Lard)
  • 100g Butter
  • 220mL Water (I measured in grams on my scale)
  • 575g All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Herbs (oregano, marjoram, thyme)
  • Spices (Aleppo Pepper, Garlic Powder, Paprika)
Filling
  • 4 quarts combined leftovers from a roast beef and roasted vegetable dinner, including about a cup of croutons, and moistened with a bit of tomato juice.
  • Next time I do this, I am leaning toward using braised, shredded meat instead of roasted meat.  Either will work just fine, though.
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine butter, animal fat, and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, measure dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  4. Pour hot water and fat mixture into the flour mixture.  Combine with a wooden spoon and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth.
  5. Cut 1/4 of the dough off for the top crust, then roll the rest out into a large circle.  It will not roll like a normal pie crust, but rather has an almost bready consistency.  I had a bit of an issue getting it to pick up and transfer without tearing; I might try putting down a bit more flour before rolling next time.
  6. Transfer the bottom crust to a 24″ springform pan.  Lift the edges and fit it into the bottom of the dish all the way around.  Cur some scraps from the edges and press in to patch any holes that develop.
  7. Press your 4 quarts of filling into the pan.  Roll out the top crust, place on top, and fold the bottom crust up over the top and crimp closed to guard against leaks (Paul and Mary don’t want the pie to have any leaks).  Cut some vent holes in the top.  From what I can tell, one centrally placed hole is typical for the Brits; sometimes they will use a cinnamon stick as the vent (and, one would assume, to impart flavor into the pie as it bakes)
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes at 375, then drop the temperature to 350 and bake for another 60.
  9. When the crust has developed an attractive golden brown and the pie is baked all the way through, set it on a raised surface (such as a jar) and release it from the springform pan.  Slide onto a plate or cutting board for service.

Food TV Worth Watching

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

I’m normally not one for cooking shows.

I don’t particularly like to watch someone get yelled at for not having food ready on time or for it not being up to par.  If I wanted to experience that, I’d still be working at {redacted}.  And, when I watch main courses, I usually wind up heckling my TV screen, telling it that whoever is on screen cooking is doing it wrong.

So, I was somewhat skeptical when my friend Sara suggested I check out the Great British Bake Off.  ”It’s really fun,” she said.  ”They make this amazing stuff, and it’s still high pressure, but because it’s British, everyone is very polite about everything.”

She’s right.

I mean, I don’t know what I would think if I were a pastry chef (I still might wind up heckling the screen).  But since I am largely inexperienced when it comes to the realm of baking, I wind up taking notes about what I see on screen.  Homemade phyllo?! Tips for making puff pastry! Wait, are they making English muffins from scratch?

And, the judges, while tough, are very even-tempered and level headed.  There might be a few tears at the end of each challenge; but no one can ever say that they’ve been mistreated.  It’s charming, really.

And, I’ve been inspired to bake different things than I might otherwise.  Last night, for instance, I did a braided yeast bread with dried cherries in one of the braids, raisins in the second, and dried cranberries in the third.  I never would’ve conceived of that 3 weeks ago.

Apparently, the BBC favorite was picked up by PBS in 2014 and has become incredibly popular in the meantime.  For those of us who are slow on the uptake, though, you can binge watch on Netflix.

On your marks, get set, BAKE!