Yes, it had to happen. But this was not a deliberate, provocative pro-English move on my part. Let it be said very clearly here: I LOVE traditional Scotch Pies; those wonderful wee beasties stuffed full of minced mutton. But, circumstances were such that there were no ‘muttons’ to be had when it came to wanting to make these traditional Scottish pies with their wonderful hot-water crust pastry casings. What I DID have, however, was a fantastic vegetarian pie filling recipe which I found in an old Cranks recipe book. It is very easy to make as also, surprisingly, is the pastry. Making the pies pie shaped was a bit tricky but well worth struggling and swearing over. So – here’s what you have to do.
Pie Filling (makes 8 pies)
4oz yellow split peas, 1 medium onion, grated, 1 medium carrot, grated, 3/4 pt water, 6oz medium oatmeal, 1 tbsp oil, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 2 tsp Marmite, 1 tbsp tomato juice, 1 tsp thyme, finely chopped, 1 tsp sage, finely chopped, 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped, 2 oz fresh breadcrumbs, 2 tsp Marigold bouillon stock.
Put peas in a large saucepan with the water and 1 tsp of the bouillon stock powder, bring to the boil and simmer until peas are soft (about 20 mins). Add onion and carrot and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook very gently for a further five minutes, stirring well. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Hot water pastry (8 pies)
1lb 10 oz plain flour, 12 fl oz water, 1 tsp salt, 9 oz lard, 1 beaten egg yolk
Line a baking tray with greasproof paper. Cut 8 strips of greasproof paper each approx. 2″ x 10″ and 8 lengths of string (or in my case embroidery thread because I didn’t have any string). Put the flour into a bowl. Heat the water, salt and lard in a saucepan until melted. Pour over the flour and mix thoroughly. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a smooth ball. Roll pastry dough out in several batches (unless you have a HUGE board) and cut out 8 bases 7″ diameter and 8 lids 4″ diameter.
Now comes the head bashing part.
Place a ball of pie filling in centre of each large pastry circle. Gather up sides. Dampen edges with water and place lids on top, pressing together with fingers. Wrap a piece of greaseproof paper around each and fasten with string. This helps them keep their shape. If at this point you are still sane and willing to continue, place each pie on baking tray. Pierce top of each pie to allow steam to escape. (Do not pierce own head even though it could be a good idea by now). Brush with egg yolk and bake at 200 C/Gas No. 6 for 40 minutes.
Taste fantastic hot or cold.