Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Great Swift Bake Off: Round 6 - Picnic Pies

This round of the Great Swift Bake Off it is time for hot water pastry. This dough is a bit of an odd beast - no chilling it in the fridge and if it gets too cold it goes very stiff and is impossible to work. Conversely too hot and it slumps and rips the moment you handle it.

I wanted to be a bit different from the standard pork based affair and spent ages scratching around through recipes before deciding to make something up from scratch. I seemed to be in an Italian mood when planning so those flavours can be seen running through the dish.

Joe's Italian Picnic Pie
Pasticcio di bolognese in crosta di Beppe


  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 500g beef mince
  • 3 yellow and 3 green peppers
  • 800g baby plum tomatoes
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp green pesto
  • Gelling agent (pectin or agar)
  • Egg white to glaze
for the pastry (based on this recipe from gourmet dough):
  • 500g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 90g lard
  • 200ml water
Halve the tomatoes and throw them in a roasting tin with thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and a little oil 

De-seed and quarter the peppers, spreading them on a baking sheet. Bake all the veg in a low oven (150C) for 2-3 hours until soft and wrinkly. This is to try and remove some of the moisture so don't worry if it looks a bit leathery!

Slice the chicken breasts accross the breast into slabs about 1 cm (3/8") thick, season and brown off in a pan. Again this should drive down the moisture content.

Finely dice the onion and garlic before frying it off with 1tsp each of paprika, cumin, chilli powder and a little salt & pepper. Add it to the minced beef. I fried the beef off for a test batch but for the final pie I left it unfried to give a denser block of meat. This did leave more moisture and I had to drain the pie a couple of times during cooking...

When the veg is almost ready melt the fat in the water and bring to just simmering. Pour onto the flour and work together.

Turn out the dough and knead it lightly. You should be able to work with it quite warm.

Leave to cool a little. I found my dough was far too pliable until it was below 45 degrees. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Once the dough is cool enough to work with (if you roll it out can you lift the sheet without it tearing in two)  roll and line the tin, reserving enough for the lid.

The cooked tomatoes are now all a bit wrinkly! You can see how much moisture they have lost.

And the peppers are a touch flacid too. 

Bake for 2 hrs at 150 degrees, draining as needed. Before it finishes baking make up the pesto gel - mix up your gelling agent stronger than the instructions, stir through pesto and keep hot until the pie comes out the oven. Pour the gel in through the steam vent using a funnel. Cool and serve.

The final entries (mine is on the left)
I managed to come joint first this round. People seemed to have very split reactions though - those expecting pork pie seemed disappointed by the Mediterranean pie!


  1. That assembly photo is brilliant! It really clarifies the process. Why have I never seen anyone do this before?

  2. What an interesting pie, you deserved to come first! xxxx


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