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Friday, August 19, 2011

Pie from scratch

I love to cook. Well, I love to bake. I do like to make pie though, but being a fairly lazy cook, I tend to use store-bought pastry.

Last time we went to the supermarket, Kel went and read all of the ingredients in the store bought pastries... There's a surprising amount of stuff that goes into a fairly simple product. Palm oil being one such ingredient and we aren't buying anything with this ingredient in (unless I've been lazy and just not looked before I've bought it...).
A few days ago, I wanted to make a steak pie. This time I made my own pastry and it was amazing. I'm not kidding- the pastry was everything you would want it to be- light, but not too flaky and delicious. Cheap to make too. And easy. Just flour, butter, salt and water.

So today, I will share the recipe for pastry AND steak and cheese pie. The pie recipe was written especially for a non cook friend.

Savoury short pastry:
2 cups flour
125g butter (more if you want a flakier pastry)
1/4 tsp salt
cold water

Sift flour and salt together. Cut in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. NB the butter needs to be cold. Mix to a stiff dough with a little cold water. Roll out lightly and try not to handle it more than necessary. It should make around 360g of pastry.

Steak and cheese pie:
500gm steak
Savoury pastry- enough to line a pie dish and make a lid- unless you top it with mashed potato.
Cheese- whatever type you like
Beef stock- the dry kind- oxo cubes are great
Salt, Pepper and herbs – to taste (we tend to use oregano and thyme)
Cornflour – this is a thickening agent

  • Cut up the steak into cubes. Smaller pieces cook faster and are easier to eat, but make sure they aren’t too small, as they might break apart Add a little oil to a frying pan (not too shallow) and brown the steak (until browned all over, but not burnt). Best to brown it over a high heat for a few minutes and then lower the heat to a low temp, so that the meat can simmer.
  • Mix up 2 cups of stock. Add to the steak and let simmer for around 30 mins. The liquid will still be quite watery, but that’s ok. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • While the steak is simmering, turn the oven on to 180° C and make sure the tray is about half way down- too high and the top of the pie will burn.
  • If your pastry isn’t pre-rolled, roll it out quite thin. Line the dish with one piece of pastry to make the crust- use your fingers to mould to the dish, even if it means folding over edges etc. make sure there is some excess around the sides so that the pastry lid can stick to the base and seal in the filling. Also roll out the lid at the same time. Blind bake the base in the oven for 10 mins
  • Add 1 tablespoon of cornflour to a little cold water (needs to be cold or it wont work) and stir until a paste. Add to the simmering steak mixture. Stir and stir and stir until you feel that its starting to thicken- it should pretty much straight away. If it doesn’t thicken within a few mins, add another cornflour mix until you get a better consistency. It will thicken very slightly in the oven, but I would rather have it a bit thick than too thin or the filling will fall out when you cut it.
  • Once the crust has cooled, remove the blind baking stuff and fill the crust with the steak mixture. You need to remember to keep some pastry crust free to stick the lid onto it. Cut up slices of cheese and layer on top. You just need enough to cover the steak. Fold over the excess pastry on the sides- this will make things a bit prettier and easier to seal. Brush this pastry with a little milk to make it stick Place the lid on top of the pie. If theres a bit too much lid, fold over the edges toward the middle, and if you are awesome, you could even add a bit of cheese to it before you fold them over as an incredible stuffed crust thingy.
  • Brush the whole top with milk (or an eggwash if that takes your fancy)- makes it more crispy, and stab a few times (gently) with a fork so that the whole pie doesn’t explode in a ball of meaty goodness.
  • Bake for about 30 mins or really until its golden brown- the inside is cooked anyway, so its all good.
So as Julia Child would say (can you tell I've been reading her book?) Bon Appetit!


  1. mmmm yum!!! Question - what is 'blind bake'?

  2. Sorry! Blind baking is the process of baking a pie crust without the filling. Blind baking a pie crust is necessary when it will be filled with an unbaked filling (such as with pudding or cream pies) or when the filling has a shorter bake time than the crust. Blind baking a pie crust also helps prevent the pie crust from becoming soggy from its filling.
    Generally the crust is lined with baking paper or tin foil and then filled with something like dried lentils or rice to weigh it down. I didn't do this with the pie I made on Wednesday- but you need to do this with puff pastry as it will puff! Here is a good link with more info:

    In saying all of this, I dont always do this but it does work better when you do!