While it's still officially Winter
Winter and Spring have finally met, and I am slowly shaking off my winter blues. Just a day in the garden planting some flowers has made a huge difference in my energy levels. I yearn for fresh greens, reds, yellows and blues on my table and have already made one wonderfully colourful dessert, that is coming shortly; but not before I say a proper goodbye to Winter.
I decided to do it with Scotch pies, which originate, as you've guessed, from Scotland, where they are still popular as ever. To put it into perspective how huge they are, (for the readers that are not familiar with the pie) let's say that the winner of the 15th World Scotch Pie Championship, which is organised by The Scotch Pie Club, is The Kandy-Bar Bakery. The organisers certainly deserve credit for keeping the tradition of the artisan bakery products alive, but let's not underestimate the importance and influence of the tradition of eating Scotch pies at half - time during football matches, where they are the ultimate fast food - and because of that earned themselves a nick name - the "football pie". It's probably safe to assume that the football fans would disagree with my view of them being seen as a winter food. I am sure that plenty of these "chimney pies" (another nick name that refers to it's look) will be sold and enjoyed by football match goers before the season ends. For me though, they will remain cosy little winter warmers, eaten on chilly nights, hot from the oven.
The pastry is made with hot water, which when cold, is strong enough to hold the filling. And now, if you didn't call me heretic for advocating goodbye to them for now, I am about to give you another reason and make it easier for you to do so. I made one batch of these with PORK mince meat!! Sorry, lamb mince meat isn't on my list of favourites, so enjoy Scotch pies - my way, or just make them the traditional way - with lamb or mutton ! I will give you the original recipe, and you know where your preferences lay.
Hot- water crust:
450 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp icing sugar
200 ml water
80 g butter
80 g lard
Mix the dry ingredients, put the beaten egg in the middle and mix. Bring the water, lard and butter to boil and pour it over flour, mixing constantly. Knead until all the egg streaks have gone and you have a very smooth pastry.
Take 8 jam jars. around 8 cm in diameter, turn them up side down and oil the bottoms (which are now the tops) and sides half way down the jars. Divide the pastry , roughly 2 thirds for the cases and 1 third for the lids.Place the smaller part in a fridge.
Divide the rest of the pastry into 8 pieces and roll out to an even thickness of 5 mm, big enough to fit the upturned jar bottoms and to come about 6 cm down the sides of the jars.. set aside to cool. Cut strips of baking paper, long enough to wrap around the pies and secure with string.. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4
For the filling:
450 g lean minced lamb
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tbsp lamb or other stock
salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients and season well. Take the pastry out and slide the cases off the jars and place them on a baking sheet. divide the meat mixture between the the pastry cases. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut the lids out, make a small holes in the middle, dampen the edges with some water and press firmly together to seal. Brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.