Category Archives: pastry

Baked jam roly poly

I have wanted to make jam roly poly for ages but haven’t got round to it.  You can either steam it, wrapped in a cloth in a bain marie, or you can bake it like I did on Sunday.  I decided to bake it because it needs 3 hours of steaming and when I am cooking Sunday lunch I need all four ovens of my Aga available for action. The steaming pudding would have taken up quite a bit of my simmering oven.  Anyway,I prepared it early on and cooked it early and then kept it warm covered in foil in the warming oven.  I wouldn’t do this again though, it would have been better, I think, fresh out of the oven.  Oh well, I live and learn.

I made proper custard to go with it, and it was an enjoyable change to the sunday dessert menu. Next time, I will try steaming it and see which version I prefer.

I used Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe in the The River Cottage Year as a guide, but adapted it to be baked rather than steamed and because I had 200g of suet, not 250g as HFW’s recipe calls for.

You can make this vegetarian by using the vegetarian suet that is available. You can also try different fillings, maybe mincemeat, or syrup with raisins and sultanas and a bit of chopped apple (ooh that sounds good, I might do that next time).

My mum had made strawberry jam from the piles of summer strawberries in her freezer, so that was the obvious choice for me, but I wonder what a marmalade roly poly would be like?

200g (8oz) shredded suet
400g (16 oz) self raising flour
pinch of salt
about 200-250ml cold water

Jam or filling of your choice (I used about half a jar of strawberry jam)

Method

In a large bowl mix the suet, flour and salt together and pour in 200ml of water to begin with and mix to a stiff but manageable dough.  You may need to add more water to achieve this.

Flour a work surface.  Shape the dough into a square and then roll into a rectangle until the dough is about 1 cm thick.  Spread the jam or filling, leaving a good margin around the edge.  Brush the margin with a little water, then fold over the edges of the dough all around to seal in the filling.

Then roll from the short edge like a swiss roll, sealing with a little water.

Place on a baking tray seal-side down and place in a preheated oven at 180°c for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with custard.

Chicken pie

We had the leftovers from a roast chicken in the fridge and I needed a dinner that could be prepared ahead and then put in the oven half an hour before we wanted to eat.  This chicken pie was the result.  It was rich and creamy and delicious and probably the best chicken pie I have made yet.

For the pastry top:

75g (3oz) cold butter
150g (6oz) plain, all purpose, flour
3-4 tbsp of very cold water

For the filling:

Glug of olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 rashers of bacon (optional)
The leftovers from a cooked chicken ( I used the meat from a leg and about half a breast worth off the carcass, but this was a big chicken from the butchers to begin with)
2 tbsp plain, all purpose, flour
glug of sherry or madeira (optional)
350ml stock
100ml cream
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper

Method

Make the pastry by placing the flour and butter in a food processor and whizzing until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need less or more, so take care) and whizz until it just comes together.  Be careful not to overmix.  If you don’t have a food processor, place the flour in a bowl and add the butter in cubes.  Rub the butter and flour together using the very tips of your fingers and lifting the flour up high to incorporate air. When it looks like breadcrumbs mix in the water using the blade of a knife and then form into a ball when it starts to come together.  Try not to handle the pastry too much.

Wrap the pastry in cling film or a plastic bag and chill in the fridge.

Fry the onion, carrot, celery and bacon (if you are using it) in the olive oil until the onion is translucent, the celery and carrots are tender and the bacon is cooked.  Add the chicken and then the flour and stir to mix well.  Leave to cook for a minute or two to cook the flour and then add the sherry or madeira if you are using it and stir well.  Add the stock gradually, stirring all the time to incorporate the flour and prevent lumps.  Let this bubble away for five minutes.  Add the cream and stir well to combine.  Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Put this mixture into a pie dish.  Wet the edges of the pie dish.  Roll out the pastry to fit the dish.  Seal the pastry with your fingertips all round the edge of the dish.  Make a hole in the centre with a small knife to allow steam to escape and brush with milk or egg wash.  Cook in a preheated oven at 200°c (gas mark 6) or the Roasting oven of the Aga for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown all over.

You could serve this with a green veg, but it is not really necessary.

Shropshire Fidget Pie

Shropshire Fidget Pie is, I have to admit, something I became aware of only a few years ago.  It seems it went out of fashion for some time.  The interest in eating local food has revived its fortunes and I finally got to taste a fidget pie a couple of months ago at our local National Trust property.  The National Trust cafes tend to serve superb local food and this one serves food that is harvested on site from the walled garden and the farm.  Fortunately for me one of the cooks at this property is also a family friend so when I saw her just before Christmas I grilled her for the recipe.  She told me what made up the filling.

Anyway,  as a true Salopian I thought it was about time I made a Fidget Pie.  (For those unaware, a Salopian is someone born in Shropshire.  The county was previously known as Salop, goodness knows why they felt the need to change the name).  Some of you might be aware that I am very proud to be a Salopian and a Midlander so to cook something that hails from the county makes me very pleased.

Our friend’s advice and a search around the internet has led to this version.  It is a combination of several recipes.  At the National Trust they make it in a pasty shape but it is also made like a pork pie in some recipes or as a topped pie as I have in this version.

It was a total success.  Mr OC was a bit dubious when he heard what was in a Fidget Pie, but he was certainly won over tonight. The combination of cider and apples really deliver a tasty punch.  This is a pie that comes highly recommended by me and Mr OC.

Serves 4

For the pastry:

8 oz plain white flour
4 oz cold butter
4 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

1 bramley apple, cored, peeled and sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
250g (10oz) ham or gammon
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves finely chopped
2 tsp cornflour
150 ml (¼ pint) double cream
450ml (¾ pint) cider

Beaten egg for brushing over the top of the pie.

Method

Start by making the pastry.  Put the flour and cold butter into a food processor and whizz until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need more or less) and whizz until it forms a ball.  Put the pastry into a plastic food bag or wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling, boil the potatoes for 3 minutes and then add the onions to the water and boil for another 2- 3 minutes.  Drain well.

Using a dish that measures 23cm x 30cm layer the apples, potato, onion and ham into the dish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the brown sugar and the sage.

In a  jug stir together the cornflour and the cream until combined and then mix in the cider.  Pour this over the filling.

Roll out the pastry to the size of the dish and then cover the dish, pressing down well around the sides. Make a hole in the top of the pie. I used my blackbird as a steam vent. Brush with the beaten egg.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for about 1 hour until the pie is golden brown.

The fidget before pastry

My eldest helping with the pastry and egg wash

Cornish pasty

I am feeling nervous telling you about this.  The Cornish pasty is the stuff of legends and I feel that to tell someone how to cook a Cornish pasty you should be both Cornish and have cooked them for years on a regular basis.  I fall down on both of those points.  Maybe I should call it a Shropshire pasty.

I have just glanced at the Wikipedia entry and that has just increased my nervousness.  The entry is very long, it details the cultural history of the pasty and the pasty even has its own trade association.  I apologise now to all my Cornish readers if by looking at the instructions below I cause you to reel in horror.  No hate mail please.

Anyway, on Saturday night I made fajitas with a bit of thin cut steak and chicken and so on Sunday we found ourselves housebound with a poorly child and a bit of thin cut steak in the fridge.  Mr OC was making enough minestrone to feed several armies (part of his take soup to work and save money campaign) and I fancied making a pasty for our tea.  The crimping of the first pasty left a lot to be desired but by the third one I had just about cracked it.  Not brilliant but good enough to prevent bursting or spillages:

Here is how I made them.

For the shortcrust pastry (enough for 4 pasties and a bit left over to make six jam tarts):

500g (16oz) plain flour
125g (4oz) butter
125g (4oz) vegetable shortening or lard (or you could use all butter)
about 6 -8 tbsp cold water

To make the pastry place the flour and the butter and shortening/lard in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add most of the water and pulse again.  Add enough water to bring the dough together.  If you don’t have a food processor then place the flour in a bowl, add the diced butter and shortening/lard and using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add most of the water and using a palette knife begin to bring the dough together, using your hands at the very end to bring it into a ball.  the trick is not to overwork the pastry in either of the ways of making it explained above.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm or a  plastic food bag and chill in the fridge for thirty minutes.

To fill the pasty:

About 400g  (14oz)  steak (not braising or stewing)
1 onion, chopped finely
half a swede  (rutabaga), diced small
1-2 potatoes, diced small
4 tsp plain flour
25g (1oz) butter
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten to use as eggwash

Method
Cut the dough into four pieces and roll out each piece into a circle.  I used a plate measuring 22cm to cut my shape out.

In the middle of the circle pile a bit of steak, onion, swede and potato.  Sprinkle over a  teaspoon of flour, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and dot with a quarter of the butter.  Brush eggwash around the edge of the circle and bring the two sides together, sealing gently.  Then using your thumb and forefinger of both hands pinch and turn the top to make a crimp.  Make sure you seal it really well.  Place on a baking tray and brush all over with egg wash.  Repeat to make three more pasties.

Place in preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7 or the roasting oven of an Aga for twenty minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4 or move to the baking oven of a four oven Aga for another forty minutes.  These can be enjoyed warm from the oven or allowed to cool and eaten for your lunch.

These were good but next time I will be a little more generous with the filling than I was in this picture, but only a little bit: 

I would also be more generous with the salt and pepper, but they were still good and they were very good with the onion and chilli jam I made to go with them.

Apple pie in the Aga

A lady called Una contacted me to ask how to cook an apple pie in the Aga as she could not find a recipe online. Well I do love apple pie, it definitely ranks up there as yet one more of my favourites ( well I like my food, so there are a lot of favourites).  So as soon as I was given some apples by a friend I made this and have now finally got around to blogging about it so hopefully rectifying Una’s dilemma.

Apple pies, in my opinion, need a shortcrust pastry and a good cooking apple – preferably a Bramley.  Now I like my apple pie to be on the tart side of things so I am more sparing with the sugar, if you prefer yours a little sweeter then add another 25g (1 oz) of sugar.  You can make shortcrust with all butter, but I do like it with half butter/ half shortening or lard.  Make sure both are straight from the fridge and that your hands are cool, as warm pastry is not a good thing.

50g (2oz) vegetable shortening or lard
50g (2oz) butter
225g (8oz) plain flour
203 tbsp of cold water

2-3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50-75g (2-3oz) granulated sugar

Method

If you are using a food processor then tip the flour into the bowl of the processor, add the diced butter and shortening/lard and pulse for a few seconds until the fat is incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add 2 tbsp of water and pulse again (you may need a little extra water or not quite that much) until the mixture starts to come together.  Try not to over process, you need to stop as soon as it starts to come together. Remove the blade and form the mixture into two flattened discs. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

If you aren’t using a food processor then make sure your hands are cool by running cold water over them.  Then place the flour and the diced fat into a bowl and using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the water and then mix using a pallet knife at first and then your hands until it is a smooth dough.  Try to handle it as little as possible.  Divide into two flattened discs and cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

You will need a pie dish or plate. Mine is 20cm in diameter and 3cm deep.

Remove the pastry from the clingfilm and lightly flour the worktop and your rolling-pin. Roll the first disc of pastry until it is big enough to cover the bottom and the sides of the dish. Press it carefully into the dish.  Place your chopped apples into the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.  Roll the second disc until it is large enough to cover the dish. Brush a little milk around the edges of the pastry and place the lid of pastry on top and crimp around the edge to form a seal with two fingers.  Cut off any excess pastry. You can brush the top with milk too.

Place the pie on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden. In a conventional cooker, place in a preheated oven at 220°c for about the same amount of time. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying warm with lashings of cold double cream or custard. My mouth is watering at the very thought.

Sausage and sage pie

This is one of my all time favourites.  I can’t remember a party from my childhood, or adulthood, when one of these beauties hasn’t been invited.  The pie in the picture is one of mum’s creations and it is from my mum that I have this recipe.  My mum makes the best sausage pies in the world!

I made one for a party we had over the May bank holiday weekend, but with all the pre party chaos I forgot to take a picture of my creation, so I have waited until my mum made her next sausage pie before posting this recipe.  Luckily for me she makes then quite often.

It is always popular and I rarely get a chance for leftovers.  It is important though that you get very good sausage meat from a very good butcher for this pie to be top notch.

500g ready-made all butter puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze

1kg top quality sausage meat
6-7 tips of sage (by tip I mean the top 3 or 4 leaves of a sprig)
200g onion
salt and pepper

Method

If you don’t have a food processor then chop the onion and sage finely.  If you have a food processor, throw them both in and whizz until finely chopped.   Add them to the sausagemeat in a bowl, add a little salt and pepper and using your hands mix really well together.

Roll the puff pastry out into a large rectangle.  I forgot to measure mine to help with this but think about the baking tray you are going to use and it will probably be about the same size as that.

Place the sausagemeat in the centre of the pastry in a line, leaving an edge of about 3cm.

Fold the pastry over to meet at the top and crimp the edges well.  Place the pie onto a lightly greased baking tray and brush all over with a lightly beaten egg.  (You may have some spare pastry that you need to trim away.  If you do then brush this with egg and sprinkle with grated cheese and cut into fingers, place onto a greased baking sheet and cook for about 8-10 minutes for lovely cheese straws)

Place in a preheated oven at 220°c for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

You can serve this hot but I like it much better cold as the flavours really develop.

Eccles cakes

My parents have an old friend who makes the most wonderful Eccles cakes.  Since I was little I have looked forward to the appearance of Joan’s old Roses tin with a batch of the most sublime cakes inside.  Her pastry is wonderful, so delicate, and that combined with the crunchy caramelised sugar topping and the sweet spicy bite of the currants and you are transported to cake heaven.

As a result of Joan’s marvellous cakes I have always been a bit put off from trying to make my own Eccles cakes in fear that they wouldn’t even come close to comparing to hers with her years of experience and pastry skills.

This weekend though I thought I would jump in at the deep-end and give it a go.  The girls were asking to make mince pies and the mincemeat from Christmas has all been used up.  I thought these may be an acceptable alternative.

I am really pleased with how they turned out and to my surprise they were nearly as good as Joan’s.  My youngest daughter, at three, surprised me with her pastry folding skills, some that she made were better than mine. It was a lovely way to spend an early Sunday morning.

I used Delia’s filling recipe as a basis for mine, but this did provide a little too much filling for the amount of pastry I had.  This isn’t too much of a problem though as I have just put the leftover filling in the fridge and I will make some more cakes with it, hopefully later today if I get a chance.  I have fetched it out of the fridge in anticipation.

Delia and Rachel Allen both use mixed peel, so you could substitute 50g (2oz) of the currants with mixed peel if you wanted to, but as I was trying to recreate Joan’s wonderful cakes and I have never discerned mixed peel in her filling I kept to a currants only filling.

500g (1lb 2oz) ready-made all-butter puff pastry (fully defrosted if frozen)

For the filling;

75g (3oz) butter
150g (5oz) soft brown sugar
200g (7oz) currants
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated rind of 1 orange (or of 2 clementines)

For the glaze:

2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

To make the filling, melt the butter and add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Leave to one side.

Roll the pastry to about 3 mm think and using a round cutter (mine is 8cm) cut out circles, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

Place a teaspoonful of filling on to each circle. Using a pastry brush, brush a little water all around the edge and fold one edge over to the other and seal well.  It should look like a little Cornish pasty at this stage.  Turn it over so that the seal is underneath and roll carefully with the rolling-pin to flatten it into a round.  Place on a baking sheet.  Repeat with all the other circles. Make three slashes in the top of each with a sharp knife and brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220°c (gas mark 7, roasting oven of the Aga) for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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