Scotch Pies

I was chatting with my husband the other day about my blog and asked if there were any Scottish recipes which I hadn’t cooked for him yet and he would like me to make. He came up with 3 suggestions but Scotch Pies was the first thing which jumped into his head. I’d never made a Scotch Pie before or hot water crust pastry come to think of it, but love a challenge so was willing to give it a go!

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Traditionally I’m told, these delicious morsels are eaten at Scottish football matches and enjoyed warm. The pastry needs to be strong enough to hold a meaty filling, usually lamb based but can be other meat. They also need to be easy to hold and eat in one hand without a knife and fork. Hubby also added they they must have some kind of nice gravy mixed in with the meat filling which will probably end up dribbling down your chin as you bite into it!

I’m a traditional Welsh Shortcrust Pastry Girl and was taught to make pastry by my Mum. I’ve never been taught to make hot water crust pastry and have never attempted it before now so I wasn’t surprised that it took me 3 batches to get it right. That’s a hell of a lot of pie making over 3 days! Fortunately I had a very keen husband who absolutely loves pies and he was keen to sample all of them, even the rubbish pies. He’s now back on his diet by the way and thank you for asking.

Pie attempt No 1 was a complete disaster with a very dry pastry……I only managed to make 2 pies and one of those was created by my husband, the “Star Baker” of the evening. He was so keen to eat a homemade Scotch Pie that he rolled his sleeves up to help me knead dough. I’d practically given up at that point and was stuffing my lamb mince filling into shortcrust pastry instead, turning them into pasties, so at least we had something to eat for tea!

Pie experiment No 2 using a different pastry recipe was too wet a dough. It literally went everywhere and stuck like glue to my hands! I also tried using pork mince which was ok but not as tasty as the lamb mince. I did manage to make 4 whole pies though which weren’t exactly “Bakeoff” quality but tasted “not bad”.

Finally my 3rd batch using a better balanced pastry recipe and a lamb mince filling plus a few seasonings, came out absolutely perfect. I think I have finally cracked the hot water crust pastry and got the flavour combination just right with the filling. Hubby just gobbled two of them down hardly saying anything at all apart from “Mmmmm” so I guess they finally passed the taste test!!

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I’m usually on a diet 90% of the time which generally doesn’t feature much lard based pastry, but for the sale of my Pie Craft I tried a few pies this week and it was worth it. This last batch tasted blooming lovely! The right amount of gravy oozing out gave my pies that WOW factor.

Our joint verdict was that my final recipe would be good enough for any keen football supporter so I have squirrelled a couple away in the freezer for my Dad to taste test when he next comes to visit. I’m sure he would be quite happy chomping into one of my pies while watching Cardiff City play!

My Bake Off tips for the perfect Scotch Pies are as follows;

1. Use lamb mince for the best flavour and some good quality onion or lamb gravy granules

2. Get everything ready to assemble the pies immediately the pastry is made as hot water crust pastry is easiest to handle when warm. Once the pastry cools the pastry becomes unmanageable. You need to work quickly! Get a clean jam jar or similar vessel ready to help mould the pie bases.

3. The best thing I found to cook the pies in was a 6 cup muffin pan which I picked up at TK Max and was supposed to be for cooking giant muffins. It had 6 fairly big pie shaped cups which was perfect. You can also tie strips of grease proof paper around the pies with string to support them during cooking, if you don’t have a muffin pan big enough and just cook on a flat baking sheet.

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Ingredients for the Lamb Filling

500g of lamb mince
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon of garlic granules
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons of water
3 teaspoons of onion gravy granules
half a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper to season to taste

Ingredients for the Hot Water Crust Pastry

250g of plain flour
100 ml of water
80g of lard, roughly cut into small pieces
1 egg
a quarter of a teaspoon of salt

To finish
1 beaten egg for glazing

Method
(to make 6 good sized individual pies)

To make the Filling

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Cook the lamb mince with the chopped onion in a frying pan and a spritz of vegetable oil to brown the meat for a few minutes.

Add all the other filling ingredients and cook on a low simmer for 10 minutes, while stirring, to finish cooking the meat and thicken the gravy. The gravy granules will thicken the filling nicely but if it gets too stodgy looking, add a little more water. You are aiming for a fairly thick pie filling with a small amount of thick gravy, but not too wet or the pastry will end up soggy.

Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the pastry

To Make the Pastry

Tip – Get everything weighed out first before you start. Make sure you have your cooking tray or large muffin/pie tin ready plus a clean medium sized jam jar and rolling pin handy as you will need to work quickly to assemble the pies immediately the pastry is made. Hot water crust pastry is best used while still warm. Once it cools it can become difficult to roll and shape.

Put the flour in a bowl and crack the egg into the middle. Using a knife blend together, coating the egg in flour until it is mixed in.

In a saucepan warm the water and lard together to melt the fat. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat.

Immediately pour the hot fat and water mixture into the bowl with the egg and flour

Working quickly, use your knife to blend together to make a dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and briefly knead to blend everything together

You now need to assemble the pies as quickly as possible before the pastry cools and becomes unmanageable.

Assembling and Baking the Pies

Roll the pastry out fairly thinly and stamp out 6 circular lids then set aside.

Reform the remainder pastry into a ball and divide into 6 smaller balls

Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a flat circle.

Use a clean dry jam jar or similar item to mould the base of the pies. Oil the jam jar to make removing the pastry easier.

Use the end of the jam jar to mould each circle into a pie base shape using your hands to smooth the pastry over the jar. See photo. Carefully lift off and place into a large oiled muffin or pie tin.

You can also cook on a flat baking sheet but you will need to wrap a strip of grease proof paper around the outside of each pie and secure with string to support the pie’s shape during cooking.

Fill each pie with the lamb mixture.

Dip each pastry lid into beaten egg then place onto the pie and crimp the edges to secure. If you wish you can cut a tiny hole in the top of each pie to let the steam out or just let it bubble out slightly at the edges giving a WOW factor!

Cook at 200C/180C Fan for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown and the filling is starting to bubble out. I would keep and eye on the pies and check after 30 minutes. Once cooked the base of the pie should no longer be doughy. Turn one out to have a look at the underside and check the pastry is thoroughly cooked.

Eat while still hot or wrap up in foil and take to your local football match to enjoy. You can also serve with some more gravy. Delicious!

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