Now first an admission: I had never made pastry before. Well, certainly not "solo". I think I have only made it once before with Jane watching over my shoulder and providing advice. However, I wanted a pie, and you can't make a pie without pastry... I dug out Jane's little Be-Ro recipe book - a rather dog-eared volume, but with evidence of frequent use - always a good sign. Aha, "Making pastry", page 19. So I followed the instructions very carefully. They worked! I dutifully rubbed the fat into the flour, added the water, formed the dough, chilled it, rolled it, draped it over the rolling-pin and plonked it on top of a pie-dish full of nice stuff (details in a moment). I even remembered to cut some holes in the top to allow steam to escape. So here we are: Exhibit 'A' - one pie ready for baking.
"So, what was in the pie?", I hear you ask. Well, it was what you would put in a Cornish pasty: diced stewing beef, potato, onion and swede turnip. I browned the meat and cooked it in seasoned stock to make a nice rich gravy and then reduced the liquid so that I would have a fairly firm filling for the pie. I also part-cooked the vegetables, since one of the things I dislike about many commercially-produced pasties is that they often contain potato that is still almost raw. I mixed these ingredients together and put them into the pie-dish, and once the mixture was cool I put the pastry on top, crimped it round the edge with a fork and brushed the surface with beaten egg.
At some point along the way I realised that I had more ingredients than would fit in my pie-dish, so I decided to make another, smaller, pie. This was actually a stroke of genius, because not only did it provide me with lunch, but it also gave me the opportunity to test-drive a prototype of my pie. You see, I wasn't certain that my pastry would be any good, and I thought that if it turned out to be horrible I could always tell Jane I had just made a casserole and conveniently omit any mention of pastry...
So here is the mini-pie. Firstly, in its raw state (with rolling-pin in the photo to give an idea of scale):
Then in its finished state. Doesn't that pastry with its glossy golden coating of egg-wash look yummy?
And now an "interior view"... Unfortunately the top wouldn't come off in one piece. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with the pastry's texture. By the way, I forgot to mention that this was Shortcrust pastry, so crumbly rather than flaky.
I have to say I was satisfied with the result - and not a little relieved too, because I know that making pastry can easily go wrong. So it was with more confidence that I set-to to prepare the rest of our dinner.
This is how the main pie came out - thankfully just a bigger version of the small prototype!
The filling of my pie was moist enough not to need any separate gravy. All the meal needed was a splash of colour and a change of texture, so I served the pie with some lightly-boiled Savoy Cabbage.
Well, it wasn't exactly a Cornish pasty, but it was fairly pasty-esque! Beautifully tender savoury meat, firm (but fully cooked!) vegetables and crisp tasty pastry. I was really happy with this result. There'll be no stopping me now! I might even make a quiche next...