This is a recipe we've been thinking about doing for a while, ever since we first read about it. It's a similar idea to the picnic loaves which are a cross between a sandwich and a stuffed loaf.
The first step is to make the pasta sauce. We often do a 'meat sauce' in the pressure cooker, simply putting chopped vegetables (such as onion, pepper, courgette, leek, garlic) in the pan along with a tin or two of tomatoes, some herbs and seasoning and a packet of mince. The lid goes on the pressure cooker and the sauce is cooked for an hour or so.
The next step is to make the dough. For this I used my normal 'mostly white' loaf, using milk instead of water, and making the dough slightly softer than normal.
Roll out the dough and sprinkle some cornmeal in the centre (this helps stop the bottom going soggy during cooking).
Mix the cooked spaghetti with the sauce and spread over the dough.
Dot the pasta with diced mozzarella.
Cut slits in the dough, going outwards from the pile of pasta. Fold the slits over to approximate a 'plait'. There was spare dough at the edges which we used to make doughballs. Brush the loaf with melted butter and cover with grated cheese (such as parmesan or pecorino).
Bake at gas mark 4 (180C) for half an hour. I assembled the loaf on some baking parchment and transferred it to a pizza stone to cook. The loaf came out well, with no sign of a soggy bottom.
I was surprised by how straightforward this was to make. The 'meat sauce' is something we regularly make and often have in the fridge or freezer. The bread dough is quick to make and just needs to be left to prove for a few hours.
This has spurred me on to try other stuffed loaves. A couple of years ago I made a macaroni cheese pie (inspired by a pie we bought while out at a country show) so I think a macaroni loaf would work well. The cheese sauce would have to be quite thick but I can't see why it wouldn't be as good as the spaghetti loaf.
This recipe was Emma's idea. She suggested that a chicken Thai green curry might work well in a pie. I made a hot milk pastry, cooked a leek and a red pepper, opened a packet of sauce and chopped up some roast chicken.
It was a very good pie.
This is another recipe from the Hairy Biker's European baking book. They cooked Curly Pies in the Romania episode and their suggested filling included cheese, ham, chorizo and mushrooms. I went with cheese, chorizo and falafel for mine since our stocks of suitable pie-filling foods were getting a bit low.
The pastry is more like a dough and was made by mixing together 200ml of fizzy water, a pinch of salt, a small glug (approx. 1 tbs) of vegetable oil and 270g of plain flour. This was mixed to make a soft dough which was put in the fridge to rest for half an hour.
The quantities above should make 4 pies but I halved the amounts. I split the dough into 2 and flattened them into disks then spread the filling into the centre, folding the dough over to meet and overlap in the middle.
The original recipe suggested a glaze of 2 eggs and 100ml of yoghurt. We didn't have any yoghurt so I used 1 egg and 50g of a mix of milk and cream cheese (remember I was making half the amount). After brushing a generous amount over the pies, there was a lot of the glaze mixture left over - enough to make an omelette by adding the leftover filling which wouldn't fit in the pies.
I baked the pies for 35-40 minutes at gas mark 4 on our pizza stone.
The pies were good but the pastry was a little on the chewy side. The CO2 from the fizzy water had helped the dough rise a bit during cooking so the mix might work well for an emergency pizza base.
This week's recipe was an attempt to do something with the diced butternut squash I had in the freezer.
The filling was based on a recipe from Good Food magazine but I made half the quantities and made 4 individual pies instead of one large one. I also used a regular shortcrust pastry base instead of a sweet pastry.
I have never tasted a 'genuine' pumpkin pie so I don't have anything to compare mine to. The filling had a slightly 'custardy' texture and the flavour was mainly a combination of squash and cinnamon. I'm not sure if I would make them again but I think I'd be interested in tasting a more authentic one.
The filling was made by mixing cooked diced meat with stuffing - one pie used chicken, the other had pork and bacon. The pie shown here was chicken (with a 'C' on the lid). The pork and bacon pies had a 'P' on the lid so I could tell them apart after cooking.
The chicken pie was probably the better of the two. The stuffing helped hold the filling together and stopped the chicken from drying out. The meat in the pork and stuffing pie was slightly over-cooked and had gone a bit chewy but the pie was still ok.
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A few weeks ago I decided to branch out from experimenting with different breads and try making some pies and quiches. My first attempt was a Leek, Bacon and Sweet Potato Quiche (using up spare/leftover food from the fridge and freezer).
The pastry recipe came from the BBC website. I had a look through some of the many recipe books at home and was surprised to find that there wasn't a single quiche recipe in any of them. I found a few recipes online and used them for inspiration. I cooked the leek and bacon, then diced the sweet potato and boiled it in water. The filling was some milk, egg, grated cheese and a little salt and pepper, beaten together then mixed with the rest of the filling.
The pastry was baked blind first then the filling was poured in and the quiche was put back in the oven.
Back in 2010, I attempted to cook a new recipe every week. I am going to try to do the same this year. I received a total of 5 recipe books for Christmas so I will have plenty of scope for finding ideas and inspiration.
My final recipe of 2012 was a turkey pie, made in the style of a pork pie. I first came across the idea a while ago but it was only last week when I finally got around to having a go at making them.
The filling was made using turkey mince, turkey bacon, a finely sliced leek, a pinch of salt and a pinch of mixed spice. I tried to cook the pies in the traditional pork pie fashion, based on the method in a recipe from the Great British Bake-Off. I used well oiled glass tumblers as the 'pie dollies'. Although the pastry didn't stick to the glass, it didn't slide off easily because it formed a vacuum at the base. Even after half an hour in the fridge, the pastry was very soft and it collapsed slightly while I was filling it.
The resulting cooked pies tasted very good. The pastry was a bit thick but had a good 'pastry' taste to it. The filling worked very well too. I'll try again sometime but might use a pie dish so the pies hold their shape a bit better.
24 hours later, the pastry crust had gone crispy on the outside and the pie tasted even better. Apart from their saggy appearance and the soft base, I would have to describe them as a very successful first attempt.