I’m not a huge fan of pies. Well, when I say that, I mean I’m not a fan of heavy, stodgy pies, but I do love tarts. My friend Joe recently showed me his latest cookbook purchase – The Hairy Bikers’ Perfect Pies. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when I started to look through it, but the recipes and the photos immediately changed my mind. There are some fantastic recipes in there, and they’re not just old-fashioned stodgy pies.
The book is split into chapters…Double Crust Pies (chicken & mushroom pie, beef & oyster pie, spinach & feta filo pie); Handheld Pies (meat & vegetable pasties, Japanese gyozas); Top Crust Pies (salmon & leek gratin pie, apricot & almond crumble); Open-Topped Pies and Tarts (roasted vegetable tart, quiche lorraine, pear, walnut & dolcelatte tart, treacle tart, custard tart, lemon meringue pie, pecan pie); Potato-topped Pies (fish pie, cottage pie, lamb hot pot); Fancy Pies (beef wellington, apple strudel, baklava).
This weekend I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I have had a bad cold for over 2 weeks now and I’m fed up feeling ill. So I decided to cheer myself up by making their quiche lorraine. It actually went pretty well. I was surprised by how easy it is to make shortcrust pastry. I always buy it pre-rolled for ease but really, it takes 5 minutes to make it yourself. And there is something very satisfying about making a dish from scratch.
This is the recipe as taken from their book…
250g plain flour, sifted
150g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
200g smoked bacon lardons, or rindless smoked bacon cut into 2cm pieces
300ml double cream
200ml half-fat crème fraîche
3 large eggs, beaten
75g Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
You need a 23cm x 2.5cm loose-bottomed fluted flan tin for this recipe.
To make the pastry, you can either make it by hand or with a food processor. If you want to make it by hand, measure out the flour in a large bowl. Add the butter to the flour.
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Cutting the butter into small cubes helps you rub the fat into the flour quickly, before it has a chance to melt. Using your fingertips helps to keep everything cool for a lighter, flakier pastry. Keep lifting the mixture out of the bowl as you rub in the fat to get as much air into the pastry as possible.
Now add the beaten egg and stir with a round-bladed knife until the dough comes together and the sides of the bowl are clean.
Form the dough into a flattened ball. Most recipes tell you to chill the pastry at this stage, but this can make it harder to roll later.
To make it by food processor, put the flour and butter in a food processor and blitz on the pulse setting until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the beaten egg and process until the mixture is just beginning to come together in a ball. Remove and shape the dough into a slightly flattened ball.
Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/400F/Gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin.
Using the rolling pon, lift the pastry and place it in the tart tin, pressing it well into the sides.
Trim away excess pastry and lightly prick the base of the tart. Chill for 30 minutes, then blind bake on a baking tray for 25 minutes.
Remove the beans and paper, then return the pastry to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes. Take it out of the oven, then turn the temperature down to 170C/Fan 150C/325F/Gas 3.5.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the onion and bacon together until lightly browned, stirring regularly.
Remove from the heat, tip onto a plate and leave to cool.
Put the cream, crème fraîche and eggs in a jug and beat until well combines. Season with a little salt and lots of pepper.
Spoon the onion and bacon into the pastry case and spread evenly.
Scatter over the cheese.
Slowly pour in nearly all the eggs mix, then place the baking tray in the centre of the oven, with the oven shelf pulled out just a little, and pour in the rest.
Carefully push the shelf back in. This will stop the filling sloshing everywhere.
* I did find that there was a lot of filling for my pastry case and I couldn’t use all of it. I’m not sure if I needed a deeper pie dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is just beginning to brown and has lost its wobble.
If you press the back of a teaspoon gently onto the centre of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing.
Serve warm or cold with a salad.
I loved this recipe and had 3 slices of it after it had cooled slightly. It really was delicious. I would perhaps add less salt to it next time as the bacon is already pretty salty so it doesn’t need much more salt.
I highly recommend this book. If you like pies and tarts, you’ll love it, and if you don’t think you like them, have a look at it because this book might just change your mind. It changed mine!