Tag Archives: shortcrust pastry

Baked bean and ham pie

Branston bean and ham pie

Autumn is most definitely upon us, the nights and mornings are chillier, the gloves have been dug out from the back of the drawer and the lawn is more leaves than grass. It’s time for dinner to be warm and comforting once more. One of the comfort foods we always turn to in this house is baked beans so I was thrilled when Branston asked me to develop a recipe around their beans.

Branston baked beans

Branston launched their baked beans 10 years ago this month and they have been rated by the Good Housekeeping Institute as the best tasting beans of all the leading brands and in taste tests 4 out of 5 people prefer the taste of Branston’s beans. This might be something to do with Branston putting more tomatoes into their sauce.

This pie makes a substantial family meal, with the beans as the star. The beans’ tomato sauce means that there is no need to make a gravy. I served it with a swede and sweet potato mash that was perfect to soak up the juices, but really all you need is the pie.

Branston beans and ham pie

If you would like the pie to be even more substantial you can crack a couple of eggs onto the filling before you put the pastry on top. I made it with the eggs when Granny came round for tea, but didn’t for last night’s tea as my eldest is away with school for the week and my youngest turns her nose up at eggs. The pie was well received both times with second helpings being devoured eagerly. Even Granny, who said she wasn’t keen on beans before she dug in, ate every last mouthful! A ringing endorsement, I’d say.

For the pastry
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
7-8 tbsp cold water

For the filling
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 onion finely diced
350g cooked ham, diced (or you can use bacon rashers, cut into small pieces, or bacon lardons, just fry them with the vegetables)
1 x 410g tin Branston baked beans
½ tsp oregano
pepper to taste

1 egg and a splash of milk for egg wash

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6, or use the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga.

Make the pastry by placing the flour into a large bowl and adding the cubes of butter. Rub in using your fingertips until the butter is evenly distributed. Pour most of the water in (you might not need all of it) and draw a knife through the pastry until it starts to come together. If you need more water add it gradually.  Bring the dough together into a ball using your hands and wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for twenty minutes to chill. You can also make the pastry in a food processor by whizzing the flour and butter together briefly and then add most of the water and whizz until it all just starts to come together.

For the filling, sauté the carrot, celery and onion (and bacon if you are using that instead of ham) in a large frying pan with a tablespoon of oil until the vegetables are soft. This will take about ten minutes over a gentle heat. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Once cool, add the ham, the oregano, a touch of pepper and the baked beans and mix well.

Cut one-third of the pastry off the ball and put to one side. Roll the larger piece on a lightly floured work surface to the size of your pie dish. My pie dish in the photo above measures 20cm. Then line the pie dish with the pastry. Pour in the filling. If you want to add a few eggs then crack them on top of the filling at this point.

Lightly beat the egg for the egg wash in a small bowl or cup and add a splash of milk. Using a pastry brush, brush a little egg wash around the edge of the pastry where the lid will sit to help with the seal. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry  on a lightly floured work surface to fit. Place on top of the dish and, using your thumbs, press all along the edge to make a good seal.  Using a sharp knife  poke two holes in the top of the pie to let the steam escape and trim the excess pastry from the edge of the pie. If there is enough trimmings, re-roll and cut out a few leaves to decorate the top. Place these on top of the pie and brush the entire surface of the pie with the egg wash. Place in the centre of the oven or on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga and cook for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is piping hot. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

#LoveBranstonBeans

Disclosure: I was commissioned to develop this recipe for Branston Baked Beans. All the opinions are my own and are honest. 

 

 

Individual Apple Pies

I was picking up my youngest daughter from school (she started last week and is enjoying it so far, fingers firmly crossed that it stays this way) and there next to the door I fetch her from is a magnificent apple tree with lots lying on the floor.  I couldn’t resist.  I chose the best two I could find and came home and made these.

They don’t look like Mr Kiplings’ but that is part of their appeal.  They are very easy to make and require little dexterity – always a bonus.

200g plain (all purpose) flour
100g cold butter, diced
cold water to mix

about 3oog cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly (I used 2 medium sized apples)
demerara sugar (or other sugar would work just as well, I just like the crunch of demerara)

Method

Make the pastry by placing the flour and the butter in a food processor and pulsing until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add enough cold water to mix (I find a small wine glass of water, so about 125ml, is normally about the right amount, but add gradually).  Pulse until the pastry just begins to come together.  If you don’t have a food processor then place the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and using the tips of your fingers rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix with a palette knife until it begins to come together.

Form the pastry into a ball and flatten slightly.  Wrap in clingfilm  and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

I used a muffin tin for my individual pies.  Roll out the pastry and then cut out circles measuring 11.5cm – this is the size of my espresso saucers and so I used these to cut round with a sharp knife. I managed to get nine circles out of my pastry.  Push the discs into the holes of the muffin tin, using your fingers to carefully push the pastry to the bottom and up the sides.  This leaves some pastry overlapping the top.  Fill the pastry with apple slices and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over each.  You could also sprinkle cinnamon if you wanted to. Then wrap the overlapping pastry over the top of the apple.

Sprinkle a little more sugar over the top and place in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or in the Roasting Oven of the Aga for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

This was a very satisfying way of using a couple of apples that would have rotted otherwise and the girls enjoyed them.

Rhubarb and ginger pie

I cannot claim any of the credit for this pie.  It is my mum’s recipe and my mum made it.  However, I couldn’t resist posting it here because it is just so delicious. The addition of the stem ginger really complements the rhubarb.  Every time my mum makes it it disappears almost as soon as it is put on the table. So if I can decipher my mother’s handwriting, this is how she makes it.

For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g cold butter, diced
cold water

For the filling:
650g prepared rhubarb (peeled if necessary and cut into 3cm chunks)
2 heaped tbsp Demerara sugar
1 tsp stem ginger syrup from the jar
3 pieces of preserved stem ginger, chopped finely

Method

Place the flour and the cubed butter in a food processor and blitz until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Add about 2-3 tablespoons of cold water at first and then pulse the mixture.  You may need to add a little more water until the pastry comes together in a ball.  The important thing is to keep the mixing to a minimum otherwise the pastry will be tough.  You can of course rub the butter and flour together with your fingers until the breadcrumb stage and then stir in the water with a knife until it comes together.  Form the pastry into a flattened disc, cover with a food bag or clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Place the rhubarb, sugar, stem ginger and syrup in a bowl and leave to marinate for about ten minutes.

Split the pastry in half and roll out one half to fit a pie dish or plate.  Place the rhubarb mixture into the dish.  Brush the edges of the pastry with water.  Roll out the second disc of pastry to fit the top and seal well around the edges.

Cook in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or in the Roasting oven of the Aga for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.  Sprinkle on a little more demerara as soon as it comes out of the oven for a crunchy top.

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.