Pie Obsession Photo Essay
On this date night I decided to make homemade beef and bacon pies for funsies, and because my husband loves pies. Australians love hot savoury pies, which seem anathema to Americans. When Australians speak of ‘a pie,’ we are generally speaking of a savoury beef pie, not an American-style sweet pie such as an apple or cherry pie.
I wanted to replicate my earlier pastry success, although I did not have any lard this time – I figured the success was as much in the technique as in the fat I was using (this turned out to be true). Using Alton Brown’s super pastry recipe and replacing the lard this time with frozen butter (because although I occasionally cook a roast, I am not cooking a leg of pork every time I want to make a pie), I utilised my handy pastry cutter to cut the frozen butter into the flour. Alton Brown suggests using a food processor, but I find that the pastry cutter makes for a much more tender pastry. I also do not find that misting the water makes any difference. Just use the amount of very cold water he suggests, and throw it in. I love to bake, but I am not standing there misting water into a bowl of flour. Dude, I have a life.
Follow the recipe, except for the change I have described above. Then rest the pastry ball in the fridge. You will notice that the pastry looks like it still has small pea-sized chunks of frozen butter in it. That’s OK.
When the pastry has rested for at least an hour, remove from the fridge and gently roll it on a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, to the size you need. I use a wooden rolling pin, but others swear by a marble pin for pastry. I don’t think I could manage a marble pin due to the weight.
I used smaller, individual-sized tins for these pies.
Blind bake the pastry, following the Alton Brown recipe. Blind baking is critical to most pies, as it prevents the soft filling from bleeding through the base. You can get away with not blind-baking little pastry tarts if you are baking them straight away (for example, jam tarts) because they are so small, but most other pastry cases require this step. This makes pies time-consuming, but when you bite into that delicious crisp pastry, it is worth it.
While the cases are baking, thaw four sheets of frozen puff pastry. You could use your homemade pastry, but I prefer puff pastry for the top of a pie.
Your blind-baked base should look like this:
Note that the case is not completely baked through. This is because the pie will continue cooking when you fill it and cover it. Blind-baking is a step designed to partially bake the dough and prevent sogginess, not to cook it all the way through.
Fill your pie with the filling of your choice. In this instance, I had made a beef and bacon pie filling (I will post the recipe tomorrow):
Cover the top of the pie with a circle of puff pastry and press very gently to seal. Cut a hole in the top to release the steam from the pie cooking:
Brush the pies with a little milk or eggwash to glaze.
Bake in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until the puff pastry has risen and is a lovely golden brown:
Crisp base, crunchy top, delicious hot filling. Exactly how an Aussie meat pie should look and taste – and if you have ever read a Terry Pratchett novel, nothing at all like Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler would sell.
I will post the recipe for the filling tomorrow.