Hot Water Pastry
This is an excellent pastry that most people will know from pork pies but has many more uses and is ideal for blind people.
There’s very little mess as no need for a “floured surface” or rolling pin.
The pastry feels like a “play dough” and can be pressed out very thin by hand to line a tin, foil or silicone baking container. You can simply press and pinch two pieces of pastry together if you have to patch a hole or attach a lid.
The pastry can be made beforehand, popped into a plastic bag and stored in the fridge or freezer. Just allow the pastry to warm up again before using.
Don’t worry if you have “hot hands” – they are perfect for this pastry.
250g pack lard.
535g plain flour.
135g strong white bread flour.
Heaped teaspoon salt.
Heaped teaspoon ground mace.
1 egg, beaten.
Place the lard and water in a pan on the hob and heat gently until the lard has melted. Set aside to cool.
Measure all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients.
Pour the melted lard and water into the mixing bowl.
Mix all the ingredients together by hand.
You could use a solid vegetable fat such as Trex in place of the lard.
Allow enough time for the lard/water mix to cool (even an hour or so). If the finished pastry is still quite warm, allow it more time to cool. I’ve tried to line the high sides of a game pie tin when the pastry wasn’t cold enough: it tended to slide down the sides like droopy knickers. You can prepare all the other ingredients, the fillings, oven and baking containers while the pastry cools.
If you are lining any container that has a loose-bottom, place that container on a baking sheet or tray that has a small lip around the edge. The pastry may release a very small amount of fat as it cooks. The tray collects any spills and avoids making a mess in the oven. Take care when handling the tray as there may be hot fat moving in it when you remove from the oven.
This recipe makes a lot of pastry because I like to use up a whole pack of lard at a time. But it keeps so well in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer that it is worth making enough for several baking sessions.
If freezing, divide the pastry into handy quantities – perhaps in quarters. Pat out the pastry into a flatter shape in the plastic bag which will make de-frosting quicker.
My favourite variations are:
Individual pork pies. Use a “bun tin”, press out the pastry across the base and up the sides of each “bun” space. Fill with sausage meat flavoured with lemon zest, chopped herbs, garlic powder or your own flavours. Roll a ball of pastry, pat out to make the lid and press firmly on to the edges of the pastry case. Make a hole in the centre for steam to escape. Brush with beaten egg. Bake on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven at 180C, Gas 4 for 30-45 minutes. Check that the meat content has reached at least 70C. These freeze well and are worth gently re-heating in the microwave.
Christmas mince pies. You could replace the mace with ground mixed spices. Make exactly as for pork pies but fill with sweet mincemeat. Dust the cooked pies with a little caster or icing sugar.
Baked-blind leek tart. Pat out a circle of pastry with your hands and press across the base and up the sides of a 25cm, 10 inch loose-bottomed tart tin. Prick the pastry base with a fork and then press a sheet of baking foil over the pastry base and up the pastry-lined sides of the tart tin. Bake blind on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven 180C, Gas 4 for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and brush the pastry base and sides with beaten egg. Return to the oven for another 5minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and brush again with the beaten egg to “double waterproof”. While the pastry cools, trim and thinly slice 3-4 leeks, wash thoroughly before sauteing in a little butter and oil. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the leeks before placing in the pastry case. Mix together 3 eggs with the remains of the previous egg, 250g crème fraiche and season well with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mix into the pastry case. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes at 165C, Gas 3.
Sweet version. Make up the recipe as above but reduce the salt to a pinch. When the pastry is made, divide into two equal portions about 660g each. Keep one half for savoury bakes and mix in half a teaspoon of salt. With the remaining pastry, add 100g of caster sugar (and, if you like, the zest of an orange). The sweet pastry can then be used for covered pies such as the Christmas mincemeat ones (see above) or an apple or other fruit pie. Alternatively, you can bake-blind the sweet pastry.
Individual strawberry or other tartlets. These need the tartlet pastry cases to be fully cooked before filling with fresh fruit. I use foil cases but a bun tray or similar would work just as well. Line the case/tray with the pastry, prick the base and line with foil. Cook for about 25 minutes at 180C, Gas 4. Remove the foil and brush the pastry cases with beaten egg. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Immediately brush with beaten egg again and allow to cool before filling. Rather than add more sugar in a crème patisserie (which also takes time to make), place a layer of thick cream or crème fraiche on the bottom and top with cubed strawberries. Glaze with some “freezer strawberry “jam” or perhaps make up the juice of an orange or two into a jelly and spoon that over as it is starting to set. A small decorative strawberry on top is optional froufrou!
The pastry is good and crisp around the edges, more like a thin biscuit. The base certainly wasn’t soggy and the whole tartlet could be eaten using just one hand!
I used commercial wheat-gluten-free plain and bread flour and added half a teaspoon of xanthium gum for every 200g of flour (for this recipe, a smidge over one and a half teaspoons). The pastry worked very well but became more fragile if chilled before baking and I didn’t test using it uncooked from the fridge or freezer. But this pastry made a very respectable crisp pork pie and also worked “baking Bind” to make a tart or quiche pastry case.
For sweet hot water pastry, I reduced the salt to a pinch, added 100g sugar and orange zest.