Seren’s Traditional Festive Pie
This pie will not need to be served with any pickle or condiment as it is moist and flavorful. I include venison in this recipe as it makes for a richer and more substantial pie, after all it is designed for the festive season
260g lard, melted
360g strong white flour
360g plain flour
375g hot water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp icing sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp double cream
For the filling
70g smoked back bacon bacon
150g sausage meat
500g pork shoulder meat, cut into 1cm dice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg1 tbsp mustard powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
300g diced venison meat
2 juniper berries ground (crushed)
¼ tsp ground mace
6 dried prunes, soaked for at least 2 hours in just enough gin to cover them
1 Combine the lard, flours, water, salt, and sugar, then mix until it forms a dough, wrap in cling film and chill for about 40 minutes.
2 Knead it on a lightly floured surface until it’s the consistency of play-dough. Hot water crust pastry wants to be worked, it doesn’t demand delicate handling. Roll out the pastry to around the thickness of a £1 coin and line a 15cm deep, loose-bottomed, round pie (or cake) tin with it. If the tin isn’t non-stick, line it with parchment paper. When you are putting the pastry in the circular tin you’ll find that you have at least one fold in the wall of the pastry creating double or treble pastry thickness. This can easily be worked up and out of the crease by gently pressing until the pastry is a consistent thickness all the way round. Try not to make any holes in the pastry – you need a complete, leak-proof vessel for the filling. Leave a small overhang of pastry around the lip to crimp the lid to. Cut a lid about 1cm in circumference wider than the tin.
When dealing with hot-crust pastry you need to work fast. It is pliable and easy to mold when hot but as it cools it become brittle and unworkable.
3 Put the venison and prunes to one side, then combine the rest of the filling ingredients. Fill the pastry with about a third of the meat, and then a layer of venison meat. Add a little more filling and then a layer of apricots, then a final layer of meat. Dampen the lip of the pastry, add the lid and crimp securely. Put a hole in the lid to allow steam to escape during cooking.
4 Mix the beaten egg with the cream, and then thinly glaze the pie top with a pastry brush. Repeat this several times during baking for extra shine. You can use just egg, but I find the cream really helps
5 Bake on a tray in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for at least 2½ hours, or until the centre of the pie reaches at least 75C and, importantly, all the visible pastry is cooked. Check regularly during cooking. If necessary, cover the top of the pie with a foil “hat” to prevent over-browning. If your oven has hot spots then you’ll probably need to turn the pie round every half hour or so to get an even bake.
6 Cool the pie completely before turning it out of the tin. The pastry will harden during cooling
This pie freezes well for up to three months and it makes an excellent addition to any festive buffet table.