Bring Out Your 'Inner Mary Berry' And Perfect Your Pastry For British Pie Week (4th-10th March)

British Pie Week is 4-10 March 2013, so why not take a moment to unleash your inner Mary Berry and celebrate this much loved British dish with these two delicious recipes and hints and tips on how to perfect your pastry from queen of pies and pastry, Camilla Stephens , founder of award winning Higgidy (

Camilla's hint and tips

Golden Rules for Pastry
Try to handle it lightly, using finger tips or even just a fork, try not to over work the pastry. Too much handling /working the pastry will result in tough pastry.
Keep cool! Make sure your hands and also the butter/lard are cool. Warmth and overworking are the enemies or great pastry.
Bake in a hot oven, a cool oven will result in soggy pastry but a hot oven will give you a golden crisp pastry.
Have Fun with Pastry Recipes - I like adding poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds all which add texture and flavour. Try experimenting with different cheeses to enrich the pastry - strong cheeses like Parmesan and Extra Mature Cheddar work well. You can even add some mustard for extra oomph!
For sweet pies try scraping out a vanilla pod and adding to a rich flakey pastry, this works really well with apples and peaches.
Pie Tin Tips
I like using metallic dishes to bake in. I find that ceramic dishes just don't result in crispness I want on the pastry. To get an extra crispy bottom to your pastry place your pie tin on a heavy duty baking
tray. This will also catch any filling which bubbles up during baking.

Camilla Stephens ,  Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Tartlets
For the pastry
200g plain flour
Salt, a generous pinch
30g Parmesan, grated
2 tsp caraway seeds
100g butter (make sure it's
1 medium free range egg yolk
About 1-2 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling
2 medium free range eggs and
1 egg yolk
150g crème fraîche
110g ricotta
400g butternut squash, cut
into dice
1 large red pepper, de-seeded
and cut into large dice
Chilli flakes, a handful for
A splash of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black

6 tartlet tins (about 10cm
diameter and 2cm deep)

How it's done

1. Roast the butternut squash in the olive oil at 220°c/fan 200°c/gas 7 for about 20 minutes. Add the red pepper pieces to the tray, give it all a good shake, reduce the oven temperature to 200°c/fan 180°c/gas 6 and continue roasting for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside, leaving the oven on.

2. While the vegetables are roasting, make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and add the Parmesan and caraway seeds; stir gently to combine. Cut the butter into small squares, about the size of dice and add to the flour.Using your fingertips and thumbs, pick up a small quantity of the mixture and lightly rub it together, allowing it to drop back into the bowl.Repeat until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Now add the egg yolk and the water and, using a round bladed knife, combine the ingredients until the pastry comes together, kneading it very briefly so it forms a ball. Don't be tempted to handle it too much at this stage, the fat will warm up and the whole thing will become tricky to handle. Wrap it in cling film and chill it for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out the pastry on a lightly-floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin and use it to line the tartlet tins. Prick the bases with a fork and chill them for 15 minutes. Roll out the trimmings, cut out six stars and set them aside.

4. Line the chilled tartlet cases with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes at 200°c/fan 180°c/gas 6. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 180°c/ fan 160°c/gas 4.

5. Whisk one of the eggs and the egg yolk with the crème fraîche and ricotta. Season with a little salt and lots of black pepper and divide the mixture between the tartlet cases. Top with the roasted butternut squash and red pepper pieces and a pastry heart. Beat the remaining egg and use it to glaze the star, then sprinkle with chilli flakes. Place the tartlets on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the filling has just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

And if you run out of time to make your own, they are also available from Sainsbury's and Ocado £2.49

Camilla Stephen's , Steak & Stout Pie With Crunchy Mash Topping
Ingredients for Steak and Stout Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 generous knob of butter
3 medium onions sliced into wedges
1kg shin of beef cut into 2-3cm dice
1 heaped table spoon of dark soft brown
2 carrots peeled and thickly sliced
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
3 sprigs of thyme
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoons of English mustard powder
2-3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
440ml can of stout
900ml of good quality beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method for Steak and Stout Stew
Place oil and butter in a heavy based oven proof pan, add the onions, beef and brown sugar on high for about 8-10mins.
Lower the heat and stir in the carrots, tomato puree and thyme.
Add the flour and mustard powder, stir to evenly distribute then add the Worcestershire sauce, stout and beef stock.
Bring up to a gentle simmer. Pop the lid on and place in the oven set at 170ºC for 1 hour.
Check after 1 hour, the stew should be very gently bubbling, give a good stir, add a little more stock if necessary and return to the oven for a further 1 hour 30mins.
Check the stew by now the meat should be soft and break up, the gravy should be rich thick. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Tip into pie dish (about 24cm diameter and about 5-6cm deep.
Ingredients for Crunchy Mash
1kg potatoes, such as Maris Piper
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
3 table spoons of olive oil
2 table spoons of whole grain mustard
Good pinch of salt and freshly ground black

Method for Crunchy Mash and Pie
Peel and quarter the potatoes, then cut the quarters in half again, cook in a pan of boiling salted water for 8-10mins. Drain well.
Toss the potatoes in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.
Pile the mash on top of the cooled stew.
Cook the pie in the oven for about 40mins at 180ºC until the stew is bubbling up around the crunchy mash.


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