After last week’s drama, Pie Week on The Great British Bake Off started with an announcement that Diana has left the series due to illness. I’m not sure how far in advance the series is filmed, but it’s certainly suspicious timing! Pastry and bread really do sort the casual cake bakers from the rest. Richard was star baker last week, his second time achieving the title, but this week he easily could have gone as pastry clearly is not his forte! This week I made a Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie and you can find the recipe by clicking the link below.
Family sized custard tarts were the signature challenge this week, with a request not to throw them in the bin! Paul and Mary were after a crispy base, silky custard and no leaks. All of the bakers used fruit to flavour their tarts, either adding fruit puree to their custard, or using whole pieces of fruit in the tart. And some flavoured their pastry too, like Nancy’s chocolate pastry and Martha’s pistachio pastry. Martha made a comment about how the older bakers have probably made more pastry and are more experienced using it. I agree with this as before ready made pastry came out, students were taught how to make it in school. Whereas nowadays, the younger generation can just go and buy it ready made, so it’s no longer a necessary skill.
Kate’s Rhubarb & Custard tart looked awesome, I loved that swirl on top. Luis’ Tropical Manchester tart was, as usual, perfection. Can the guy do anything wrong?! Norman’s ‘light’ dusting of icing sugar on his Tarte Au Citron was beyond hilarious, but I did feel bad for him after Paul’s comments. You could tell he was really proud of himself,
Mini pear pies were the technical challenge this week. Pears wrapped in pastry… does this count as a pie? It all looked a bit complicated as you have to poach the pears first, let them cool, then put the pastry on them when they are cool enough so that the pastry doesn’t melt and slip off, then bake them. The bakers started by making a ruff puff pastry.
Everyone struggled with getting the pear pies ready within the time limit. The pastry completely slipped off Richard’s pears, but bless him he had a good sense of humour about it! He came last, with Luis and Norman in sixth and fifth. Martha came first, with Chetna in second and Kate in third.
The showstopper request was a pretty epic one. A three (or more) tiered pie was requested. Basically like a pie wedding cake! They could do sweet or savoury pies and use any pastry they wanted. A good strong pastry to support all the tiers was recommend by Mary. Paul wanted the pie to be themed, for the flavours and fillings to have a reason to be paired together.
Hot water crust was a popular choice because it is so strong and sturdy. Meat, in particular pork, was also a common filling. Nancy was the only one who hand raised her pies without using a tin. Impressive stuff! Savoury flavours were definitely more popular with only a few sweet pies from Norman, Richard and Nancy.
Some of the bakers piled the pies on top of another, whereas others used pillars to separate the pies. Luis pie tower collapsed but managed to survive, showing just how sturdy hot water crust is! He did well in the judging as did Kate. Richard’s pies were a little burnt and the judges were not a fan of Norman’s lavender flavoured meringue. Norman called his pie tower the Pieful Tower – who doesn’t love a good pun!
Norman left us this week. I absolutely love him and will miss him in the tent each week. He came out withe the most hilarious one liners and his confidence was so charming. He is a very simple and traditional baker, and although fantastic at what he does, he wasn’t able to keep up with the more modern flavours and methods. Kate won the star baker title which I think was well deserved! Next week – European desserts.
Pies are just brilliant aren’t they? I love pastry and I’ve been trying over the last couple of years to have a go at making all the different kinds. I haven’t done hot water crust yet so I decided to try it for this week’s GBBO challenge and made this Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie. It’s a vegetarian pie as my boyfriend is vegetarian and there was no way he didn’t want to be involved in enjoying the results of my baking! Leek, cheese and potato is a great pie filling as it’s delicious, hearty and easy to flavour to your own taste.
I started by weighing out plain flour in a bowl.
Over a medium heat I melted together butter, Crisp n Dry, water and salt. I used Crisp n Dry because my boyfriend is a vegetarian and this is a vegetarian friendly recipe. You can of course replace this with lard.
As soon as the fat mixture came to a boil, I took it off the heat and poured it into the flour. I used a wooden spoon to combine the mixture until a dough formed. I’ve seen people use their hands to mix the dough, but frankly I find this a bit dangerous! I am pretty sensitive to heat, and a wooden spoon worked great, so there was no need to put my hands in. I covered the bowl with a clean tea towel and left it to cool down for an hour.
Once it was cool I lightly floured my work top and rolled it out into a rectangle. I then folded the dough into thirds, as above.
I rolled it out again and folded it again. Then put it in a dish, covered it with cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After the time was up I took it out and used two thirds of the dough to line the pin tin. I used a loose bottomed cake tin that was 21cm wide and 7.5cm deep, I brushed it with oil. I rolled the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, placed it in the tin and trimmed the edges. Then I covered it with cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While this was in the fridge I prepared the filling. I sliced potatoes thinly, and boiled them for about 5 minutes. I drained the potatoes and put them aside.
In a pan I cooked sliced up leeks along with garlic, butter and for about 5 minutes. Then set them aside to cool for 15 minutes.
For the sauce I mixed up double cream, lemon juice, grated extra mature cheddar, eggs and herbs and salt to taste. I used rosemary and parsley. You could add chives or pepper too.
I mixed the cooled leeks into the sauce.
I took the pie case out of the fridge and layered up the fillings, potato slices, then leek, potato, then leek, until it was full.
Then I rolled out the rest of the pastry to make the lid. I used a beaten egg to stick the lid around the edge to the base. I used my fingers to make a crimp pattern and cut two slits with a knife in the middle. Finally I brushed beaten egg all over the top.
I had too much filling to fill the pie so I made this extra pie with a lid made from the leftover pastry. I’ve reduced the amount of filling in the recipe card below to make just the one large pie.
The bigger Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie was an absolute beast and took an hour and a half on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 to bake. The smaller pie took around 45 minutes. If the pastry on top starts to catch, cover it with foil.
Now this Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie was massive! We ate the smaller Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie for dinner one night with some vegetables and gravy. Then started on the bigger Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie the next day… for both lunch and dinner! It was very delicious and it got the thumbs up from my boyfriend. He said it was one of his favourite things I had made him recently. I was pleased with how the pastry turned out too and hot water crust was much easier than I thought.
Leek, Cheese & Potato Pie
For the pastry
- 500 g Plain flour
- 90 g Butter
- 100 g Crisp n Dry or other vegetarian lard substitute
- 200 ml Water
- 1 tsp Salt
For the filling
- 2 Large Potatoes
- 3 Leeks
- 1 1/2 tbsp Oil
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 2 Eggs large
- 300 ml Double Cream
- 150 g Grated Mature Cheddar
- 1 tbsp Rosemary
- 1 tbsp Parsley
- 1 tbsp Lemon juice
- 1 Beaten egg for glazing
For the pastry, weigh out the plain flour in a bowl.
Over a medium heat, heat the butter, Crisp n Dry, water and salt. When it comes to a boil, take off the heat and pour into the flour.
Use a wooden spoon to combine the mixture until a dough forms.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to cool for an hour.
Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds.
Roll it out again and fold into thirds again.
Put it in a dish, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out two thirds of the dough to line a 21cm wide and 7.5cm deep pin tin. Brush the tin with oil. Place the pastry in the tin and trim the edges. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Now prepare the filling. Slice the potatoes thinly, and boil them for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Slice the leeks and cook for 5 mins with the oil, garlic, butter and a sprinkle of salt. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
In a bowl mix the double cream, lemon juice, cheddar, the eggs and herbs.
Mix the cooled leeks into the sauce.
Take the pie case out of the fridge and layer up the fillings, potato slices, then leek, potato, then leek, until it's full.
Roll out the rest of the pastry to make the lid. Beat the remaining egg and brush it around the edge to stick the lid to the base. Make a crimp pattern with your fingers and cut two slits with a knife in the middle. Brush beaten egg all over the top.
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for an hour and a half. If the pastry on top starts to catch, cover it with foil.
Pastry recipe slightly adapted from Gourmet Dough. Filling recipe slightly adapted from Pie by Dean Brettschneider.