I recently got to talk with food writer Jassy Davis about blogging, food and life .... and she was kind enough to share a recipe with me.
A comfort-food-sounding-winner of a Bacon and Egg Pie.
But, it also made me a little bit nervous about making it because to me, baking and pastry, y'know, they're TECHNICAL cooking. And I don't really 'do' technical cooking. My cooking is generally based on throwing things together, cooking stuff quickly, and all about taste, taste and taste it again and adjust (and learn to trust your own pallette).
However, I also really loved the sound of her pie, and I really wanted to make it.
And I want other people who might have the pastry fear to have a go to. You'll see on the header photo on this post Jassy's pie on the left and mine on the right. Honestly, I'm pretty proud of how it looks (and it tasted much better than it looks) and I'm now inspired to have a go at more pastry. Well, maybe this pie again a few times more before I move on to anything else.
I was also really pleased when she suggested this recipe because it reminds me so much of one of my grandmothers. My gran Irene (known as Rene), was a cook - she'd gone into service at the 'Big House' as a teenager and learnt and worked her way up to being a cook. When she died, my dad (her son) found some of the notebooks with her handwritten recipes that she'd noted down as she learnt more dishes. I really want to find those notebooks - I think they're somewhere in the attic at my dad's and it's a job now back on my list to find them!
When I was little and we went to visit and stay with my grandparents in Sussex, I was always excited about the food, and about watching and helping my grandmother cook.
She had a little kitchen with the open door straight to the back steps down to the garden and sometimes I'd just sit on the steps in the summer sunshine with the smell of the pots of geraniums all down the steps (geraniums are still a favourite scent of mine today), with a cup of tea (in a cup and saucer) and Gran pottering and cooking behind me.
She made the best full English breakfasts, with delicious little fat herby sausages from the butcher. She made beautiful salads and roast dinners and new potatoes with butter and sprigs of fresh mint from the garden. And she made a perfect bacon and egg quiche. I loved Gran's quiche so much that during a very short period of being vegetarian as a teenager I was very tempted by it.
Especially because my grandparents were of a generation that didn't really 'get' vegetarianism and I now think they just thought I'd given up red meat. Once when we were staying I was offered quiche for lunch and on turning it down on the grounds of being veggie, my grandmother said in kind of horror:
And to be completely honest, when I saw that quiche and also smelt the bacon frying in the morning, I changed my 'vegetarianism' to allow eating bacon too.
So do give Jassy's pie a try, even if you're scared of pastry, or even if you're a vegetarian!
Actually, I can see that this pie would be fab made with perhaps leeks instead of the bacon. If you give a veggie version a try, please get in touch and let me know what you tried and how it worked out.
But back to our glorious bacon and egg pie and Jassy's recipe which says it serves eight (but I'll always leave this vague as it's just so dependent on hunger, greediness, etc!) ...
FOR THE PASTRY
240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
60g chilled salted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
60g chilled lard, cubed
FOR THE FILLING
480g good quality unsmoked streaky bacon (make sure it’s good quality – you don’t want your pie ruined by cheap bacon bleeding salty water all over it)
150g crème fraîche
142ml pot soured cream (the pot I bought was 150ml so I used nearly all of it)
3 medium eggs
1 tbsp milk
First fill a glass with water and add an ice cube. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter and lard. Rub together with your fingertips to make it look like breadcrumbs. This took me back literally DECADES to possibly the last time I made pastry ...
Add a little iced water and bring the dough together with your hands (add more water if needed). Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to Gas 7 / 220 C and place a baking tray in to heat.
Butter a loose-bottomed 20 cm cake tin (I had to borrow one of these and I think it would be really useful to have one of those ones where the main tin has a hinge mechanism - I'm sure this sort of tin has a proper name but I don't know it! Anyway, one's going on my Christmas list).
Chop the bacon into small pieces around 1 cm wide. I used one of my favourite big knives and chopped through the whole pile at once!
Beat together the creme fraiche, sour cream and eggs and season with lots of freshly ground black pepper (no salt! It's pretty salty already with all that bacon).
Here's where it go a little tricky for me. You slice off 1/3 of the pastry and set that aside.
Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the 2/3 left to make a circle that's approx 25cm across. Now this I just couldn't do.
Mine stuck and didn't roll too thin and the more I played with it the more I realised that that was not going to help. So I just did my best and lined the cake tin as best I could and patched it up with other pieces of pastry.
You then scatter the bacon all over the pastry case then pour over the egg mixture.
What should happen next is that you roll out the remaining pastry (that 1/3 you set aside) to make a 20cm round and lay that on top of the pie. Fold down any pastry running up the sides and pinch them together.
Jassy does say, 'don't worry if a little of the filling oozes out of the top, it's a messy looking pie', which was at least a little reassuring because I was getting worried by my patchwork quilt effect pastry efforts!
Brush the top of the pie with the milk - and if yours is anything like mine it'll now have wrong-looking pools of milk in the crevices of the pastry patchwork quilt. But I carried on!
I even made pastry letters to write 'PIE' across the top.
Bake for 50 mins - 1 hour until golden (and even slightly brown). It smells SO good as it's cooking!
Cool in the tin for 15 mins then run a knife around the edges to loosen, sliding the tin sides of the pie. Ummm, this didn't exactly go according to plan for me, but I managed to get the pie out!
Leave to cool completely and chill until you want to eat it as it tastes best served cold.
Well, obviously THAT didn't go to plan either!
I was ravenous and wanted to try it straight away. I had a slice hot with some extra black pepper and my home-made brown sauce (recipe to follow soon) - and I had another slice the next day cold for lunch.
And yes, Jassy's right. It tastes best served cold - but whether you have willpower enough to wait until then is another matter.
Definitely going to be making this again and would love to hear from you if you make it too!