I’m fascinated by hot water crust pastry! (Also called raised pastry.) I’d thought of pastry as a chilly, hands-off affair, with everything ice cold, touched only by fingertips, and laid out on a cold marble slab. Well, hot water crust pastry is made with boiling water and melted fat, you get your hands right in there and knead it, and then you mold it as if it was play-doh! It really can put some childish fun in making pies. It’s also a bit of a challenge, and it took me a while to find the right proportions. The idea behind this dough is that it makes a pastry so strong that you can pour gravy inside and it won’t leak out. So strong that you can put it in your pocket, and it won’t crumble. So strong that Rogue Riderhood can make it into plates…
Remarkably, it’s very tasty, too. And though I’ve just made it sound like it might crack your teeth, it has a lovely texture. Typically, it’s a crust for a meat pie, and it’s made with lard. I’ve read that you can substitute vegetable shortening, but I just don’t like the idea of vegetable shortening. Flavorless, colorless fat does not appeal to me. So I use a mixture of butter and olive oil. I’ve had good results – it might not be exactly like the original, but it’s very tasty and sturdy enough for anything I’ve ever made. The idea is to mold it by hand, or to mold it around a large jar, and then tie parchment paper around it, or let it cook free-standing and expect the middle to bulge out a bit. I’ve molded it around cups to make small pies, but for anything larger I cheat and cook it inside something with a tall straight edge, and then turn it out impressively at the end.
If you want to make a vegan version, use margarine instead of butter.
UPDATE! *I’ve changed the proportions a little bit in the recipe. It never made enough, for one thing, and it was more difficult to work with than it needed to be. The recipe now should make a delightfully moldable dough, but still hold its shape when you want it to.*
I’ve got a couple of songs about pork pie hats, because this crust is known for its pork-pie-usage.
and here’s Pork Pie Hat by Lauren Aitken
2 1/2 Cups flour
4 T butter (or margarine, if you’re vegan!)
2 T olive oil
3/4 cup water
white pepper or black pepper (optional)
1. In a large bowl, mix your flour, salt and white pepper. I seem to always put white pepper in any kind of pastry I make. I love the flavor of it, and I like the crust to be tasty on its own, not just a bland canvas for the filling.
2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, warm the water, butter and olive oil til it just starts boiling.
4. Form it into a ball and knead it a few times. It should feel thick and a little sticky. You can add a bit more warm water if you’re having trouble bringing it all together. You can let it cool slightly, but you have to work with it while it’s warm or it will become tough and crunchy and very unwieldy.
Then you roll it out – leaving it quite thick (1 cm, even!). And then you mold it into a straight edged-bowl shape. Either by hand, over a floured jar or cup the desired size, or, if you’re a cheater like me, inside a straight edged (greased and floured) dish. Save some for the top of the pie!
You can use this crust to make the DEEP MUSHROOM PIE!