I’d been planing to cook a Christmas Pie for our veggie dinner for some time, and came across an old article in something like the Good Food magazine which looked like a promising avenue of inspiration.
Although this did for the basis of my recipe, there were one or two elements didn’t like, or in hindsight just didn’t work very well so this version reflects my retrospective fixes.
This recipe uses a hot water crust pastry, which is great fun to work with and really throws the pastry rule book in the bin. This is a great pastry that you can really abuse and gives a wonderful deep golden brunch crust (just think of Pork Pies…). Being vegetarian I’ve used a vegetable shortening, but your veggie principles are a bit lax you could opt for lard.
You’ll see that despite the title, this isn’t in fact a raised pie. It was my intention to make a number if individual pies and raise them myself, but in the end resorted to something that could be ritually carved at the Christmas table. Any leftovers are great served cold
This recipe involves an element of multitasking – all 3 fillings should be progressed in parallel if you want to turn this recipe around efficiently
One word of caution – my original notes had the pie left in the tin until serving. DO NOT DO THIS! The pastry will go soggy, the baking paper will tear and the pie will collapse!
Filling Layer 1 – Butternut Squash
- Dice up 1/2 peeled Butternut Squash and roast on a baking tray with a sprinkling of Sage and Olive Oil until tender
- Sweat 3 finely chopped Onions and 3 cloves Garlic in a little Olive Oil until soft.
- Take 1/3rd of the onion (retaining the rest for the Mushroom Barley filling) and in a bowl mix with the zest of 1 lemon, 200g Ricotta and 200g Full Fat Soft Cream Cheese and season well with salt & pepper
- Set 2/3rd of this aside for the Spinach filling
- Fold in the roasted butternut squash into the remaining 1/3rd, along with a little more shopped Sage
Filling Layer 2 – Mushroom Barley
- To the pan of onions mix set aside above, add 100g Chestnut Mushroom (sliced) and sweat for 5 minutes until softened
- Add 75g chopped Chestnuts, 100g Pearl Barley and about a litre of vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the barley is tender (about 35 minutes), adding extra stock if required. he mixture should be dry when cooked
- Add 1 tbsp of Dark Soy Sauce and salt & pepper to season
Filling Layer 3 – Spinach
- In a large pan add 600g Spinach Leaves and a little boiling water. Cover and steam the spinach until tender – it should only take a couple of minutes
- Tip the spinach into a tea towel and squeeze out as much of the moisture as possible
- Turn on to a chopping board and shred the spinach before mixing into the remaining cheese and onion mixture set aside from butternut squash filling above, along with a handful of chopped Fresh Parsley
Make the Pastry
- Make the pastry by melting 140g Butter and 90g Vegetable Shortening in a large pan with 100ml Milk and 3 tsp Salt and bring to the boil
- Measure 700g Plain Flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre
- When boiling, pour the milk & fat into the flour and beat well with a wooden spoon until mixed
- As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, get in with your hands and knead the dough until smooth then tip onto a work surface
- Line a 1kg Loaf Tin with a double thickness of baking paper – leave plenty overhanging as you’ll need this to lift the pie out once cooked
- Roll out the dough thin enough to line the tin with plenty to spare
- Lift on a rolling pin and drop into the tin. Mould around the sides and leave some dough overhanging before trimming off the excess
- Take the excess, reconstitute into a ball and roll out to make a very generous lid for the pie.
Fill the Pie
- Fill the pie a layer at a time, starting with the spinach, then barley then butternut squash, pressing each layer down
- The squash layer should rise well above the top of the tin. There may be a little of each filling left
- Brush the dough (which should still be overhanging the edge of the tin) with a little beaten egg, then lay the pastry lit on the top
- Roughly trim off the excess then crimp the edges to seal well and trim again if necessary. Use any offcuts to make decorations for the pie
- Glaze the top of the pie with more of the beaten egg
- Bake in a preheated oven, 180oC Fan, for 30 minutes before turning down to 160oC for another 90 minutes
- Once cooked allow to stand for 5 minutes before lifting the pie out of the tin by the baking paper and on to a cooling rack. The pie will stay warm for quite a long time so shouldn’t need reheating
- Transfer to the dining table and serve in generous slices