When I saw that last week's Great British Bake Off was going to be Victorian themed I squealed with delight. This was very presumptuous of me. I've got a mad love for anything Victorian and my brain made the jump from crinoline to Jane Eyre and beaded purses to baked pies in an instant, whilst classing them all in a circle of joy.
After baking this pie, I can totally see why the middling and upper classes would need a cook to look after things in the kitchen department. I found it so fiddly and although I cheated on the gelatin front, the cooling and setting process would have been a bloomin' pain back then! I can also provide evidence for why the Victorians had such high levels of gout. This stuff is dense.
Having done a few bakes so far that have made me wince when scanning ingredients through at the check outs, I tried to be a bit thrifty on this one. Much like a middling merchant trying to worm his way into high society, I bought off-cuts that were reduced at the supermarket for cheaps. I'm talking venison steaks, beef mince, bacon lardons and dried fruit a plenty. Readers, meet my Victorian Poacher's Pie.
Victorian Poacher's Pie
For the Filling:
200g thick cut ham
200g beef mince
200g venison steaks (sliced)
200g bacon lardons
200g dried fruit (I used cherries, apricots and cranberries)
1 apple (grated)
60g sage and onion stuffing mix
For the Pastry
60g unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
400g plain flour
1 egg (for egg wash)
1 // Prepare the filling by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl and combining well. Make sure the steak is sliced into small pieces so that they cook properly. You can put this mix in the fridge overnight to break up the baking process if you wish!
2 // Add the butter, lard, salt and 100ml water into a medium saucepan and heat on low until all ingredients have melted.
3 // Measure flour into a bowl and pour melted mixture into the bowl. Combine all ingredients in the bowl with a spoon when warm and then knead out when the dough is cool enough to handle. Set aside 1/3 of the mixture (this will form your lid).
4 // Roll out the dough to roughly 5mm thick and line your tin, leaving a decent overlap.
5 // Line the bottom of the pie with ham. Layer the pie (ham layer, meat/fruit mix layer) until you reach the top of the tin.
6 // Use 3/4 of the remaining dough to form your lid. Cut off excess and pinch together the sides to seal the pie.
7 // Cut out Victorian style decorations with the last of the dough. Roses can be made by wrapping semi-circles around each other in an overlapping fashion. Place these on a baking tray, add egg wash and bake by themselves. Approx. 25 mins for the roses, 10 for the deer and rope and 5 for the diamonds.
8 // Egg wash the pie and bake for 1.5 hours, or until the pastry has turned a deep golden colour.
9 // Stick your baked decorations on with egg wash and cook for 5 mins to seal.
10 // Leave to cool in the tray overnight. The next day, dissolve 6g gelatin powder into 300ml of hot water, pouring in the pie and leaving to chill in the fridge for at least 5 hours. This part is optional.
// Leave the pie to cool in the tin. Better than that, bake the pie in one of those fancy Victorian tins or a spring form one, so you don't have to do the two-spatula-balancing-act or deal with the following pastry crack. Stress levels were hiiiiiigh! This also meant that my gelatin seeped out of the sides. Mmm. What a sexy sentence.
// Make sure you have enough overlapping pastry to effectively seal your pie inside the lid. I did not. There was leakage.
// Eat loads of fruit and veg before and after this pie so you don't have to 'take the waters in Bath' due to horrible gout. Jokes. Sort of.
Guys, things are getting tricky in the Bake Off tent! How are we going to cope?! Whatever they bake tonight, I'm doing the easiest one. It's decided. I can't hand over 30 minutes of my evening to stick pastry rope onto the sides of a pie again. #LifesTooShort
Also, if Tamal says anything adorable again during tonight's episode I might just weep a little bit. #Perfection
How did you do with this week's bakes? Failing that, how do you think you'd cope on a Victorian diet?
Catch up with my previous #BakeOffBakeAlong posts here.
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