Today I conquered one of my kitchen fears. I MADE PASTRY!!! No, really, I’m that excited about it. For years I have been incredibly wary about pastry because where my mother and sister have lovely pastry hands, nice and cold, I’ve always had nice warm hands. As such I had been told that pastry and I would not get on. Well today I can totally refute that!
I was making a chicken and mushroom pie for dinner tonight to use up leftover roast chicken but when I went to the fridge to get the shop bought puff pastry I had planned to use it was… well, approaching sentience actually. There was nothing for it, I was going to have to make pastry.
I have one cook book that I return to again and again. The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cook Book. (Although I think this is the current edition.) It was one of the first cookbooks I ever got, before I’d ever tried to cook anything other than fairy cakes. My mum also has a copy and both are now dog eared and spilt on through many years of sterling kitchen service. It is the first cookbook I reach for when I don’t know how to do something or just want some inspiration, the colour picture index is great for that, and it was this cookbook I reached for this evening when facing the daunting task making my very first pastry.
I am happy to report that not only is shortcrust pastry easy, it was also quick and, for cooking, pretty low mess too! The recipe I use for chicken and mushroom pie filling can be found here. Instead of cooking the chicken breast I just added chunks of roast chicken stripped from Sunday’s roast. Usually I decorate pies with a representation of what’s in them but I decided that this was going to be the prettiest pie in the world. Usually savoury pies are seen as manly and butch where as sweet pies are more girly, nope, not this pie. I decided that hearts and flowers were the only way to go, sorry dad!
Makes enough for 1 pie, decorations and a bit leftover*.
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, chilled and diced
50g Trex (white vegetable fat), chilled and diced
3-4 tbsp chilled water
– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and Trex and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.
– Add 3 -4 tbsp cold water by sprinkling it evenly over the surface fo the mixture. (I used 3 tbsp and a bit.)
– Using a flat bladed knife mix it together until it forms a dough.
– Gather it together with your hands and lightly knead for a few seconds to bring it together.
– Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in clingfilm. Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
– Lightly flour the worksurface and the rolling pin, not the pastry.
– Turn out the dough onto the worksurface and roll it out in one direction, turning it as you go until it reaches about 3 mm thick.
– Place your pie dish upsidedown on top of the pastry and cut a line around the dish about 1 cm out to leave room for shrinkage.
– Cut a second line around this about 1.5 cm thick.
– Fill the pie dish with the filling.
– Moisten the edge of your dish with a finger dipped in water then press the 1.5 cm thick strip round the outside of the dish trimming the length to fit.
– Moisten this pastry with water again then lay the rest of the pastry over the top using the rolling pin to help lift it across.
– Shape the edges how you want to, I used a fork pressed round the edge.
– Add any decorations you want to on the top, moistening them with water to stick them down.
– Brush with beaten egg or milk.
– Bake at gas mark 7 for 45 minutes.
*(I cut out itty bitty flowers from the last of the pastry, dabbed the tops with the spare egg wash and sprinked them with grated hard cheese then baked them for 10 minutes at Gas 6)
I served this with carrots, brocolli and neep and tattie cake, which I shall post tomorrow.