Pies feel all kinds of right at this time of the year. Not only are they all wrapped up, so dressed perfectly for autumn, they’re also the ideal weekend project for when you’re hunkering down at home. So satisfying, so sustaining, so seasonal.
Spinach, celeriac and gouda pie (pictured top)
The suet makes this dough flaky and extra-special (I use vegetable suet to keep it vegetarian-friendly). If you like, make the dough up to two days ahead; wrap it tightly and refrigerate. This pie tastes even better the next day.
Prep 20 min
Chill 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 40 min
For the pastry
280g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
150g shredded vegetable suet (I use Trex)
Fine sea salt and black pepper
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp double cream
For the filling
2 celeriac, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes (1kg net weight)
3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2¼ tsp cumin seeds
2¼ tsp caraway seeds
60ml olive oil, plus extra for brushing
600g spinach leaves
200g cavolo nero, stems discarded, leaves roughly shredded (120g)
20g chives, roughly chopped
20g dill, roughly chopped
150g soured cream
300ml double cream
⅓ whole nutmeg, finely grated
40g parmesan, finely grated
1 lemon, zest finely grated, to get 1½ tsp, then juiced, to get 1 tbsp
100g gouda, thinly sliced
90g cornichons, to serve
Put the flour, suet and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in 170ml cold water. Mix in and knead to make a smooth dough. Wrap with a clean tea towel and refrigerate for an hour.
Heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½. Put the celeriac, onions, garlic, rosemary, two teaspoons each of the cumin and caraway seeds, three tablespoons of oil and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt in a large roasting tray. Toss to coat, then roast for 45 minutes, turning everything two or three times, until the celeriac is golden and cooked through and the onions translucent.
Meanwhile, put a large saucepan on a high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes, until wilted. Turn down the heat to medium, add the shredded cavolo nero and a quarter-teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often so the greens don’t catch, for five minutes more. Off the heat, stir in the chives and dill and leave to cool for 20 minutes. Once cool, stir into the roast celeriac tray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, both creams, nutmeg, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, half a teaspoon of salt and a good crack of pepper, then fold in the sliced gouda and stir into the cooled vegetable mixture.
Turn the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and grease a 24cm spring-form cake tin with the extra olive oil. Cut off one-third of the dough and lightly flour a work surface. Roll the larger piece of dough into a roughly 3mm-thick x 35cm-diameter circle. Use the rolling pin carefully to lift it into the tin, then press it into the bottom and sides – you should have about a 2cm overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of dough into a 26cm circle and make a 2cm-wide cut in the centre.
Spoon the filling mix in to the pastry case. Mix the egg yolk and tablespoon of cream in a small bowl, then use to brush the overhang. Lay the second dough circle on top of the filling and press and crimp all around the edges to seal. Brush with the remaining egg yolk mixture and sprinkle the remaining quarter-teaspoon each of cumin and caraway seeds on top.
Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown, then remove and leave to rest for five minutes. Release from the tin, rest for another five minutes, then transfer to a platter and serve with the cornichons on the side.
Water borek with lamb and feta
This is admittedly not one to try when you are pushed for time, but don’t let that put you off. If you want to get ahead, roll the pastry the day before and refrigerate it covered in parchment paper, ready to be cooked in its water bath.
Prep 45 min
Cook 1 hr 40 min
For the dough
250g plain flour, plus 100g extra for rolling
¼ tsp ground turmeric
Fine sea salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
For the filling
3 tbsp olive oil
400g (20% fat) lamb mince
15g oregano leaves, plus extra to garnish
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped (400g net)
400g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1½ cm cubes
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 plum tomatoes, grated, skins discarded (450g)
400g feta, roughly crumbled
30g parsley, roughly chopped
80g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
First make the dough. Put the flour, turmeric and a teaspoon of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and cider vinegar. Turn on the mixer to medium-high, pour in the egg mixture and work for five minutes until you have a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Remove from the bowl, shape into a ball, cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Put a large saute pan on a medium-high heat, add the oil, mince, oregano and half a teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 12 minutes, until lightly brown; use the spoon to break up the mince into roughly 1cm pieces. Tip the lamb mix into a sieve set over a medium bowl, return the pan to a medium heat and pour in any fat that’s collected in the bowl.
Put the onions, squash, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, chilli flakes and tomato paste in the pan, add a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and cook, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes, until softened and lightly caramelised. Stir the lamb back into the pan, then take off the heat, stir in the grated tomatoes and set aside to cool. Once cool, stir in the crumbled feta and parsley.
Divide the pastry into five roughly 85g balls and cover with a damp cloth. Flour a work surface very generously and, working one ball at a time, roll each one into a roughly 2mm-thick 45cm x 30cm rectangle – use plenty of flour when rolling, and turn the dough and add more flour as necessary. Once shaped, generously flour the dough rectangle, fold it in half and set aside while you repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Pat any excess flour off the dough rectangles and lower the sheets one at a time into the water. Use a large slotted spoon to keep the dough submerged, cook for 30 seconds, then lift out of the water and plunge into a bowl of ice water until cool. Drain in a colander set over a bowl and repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the butter and remaining two tablespoons of oil in a small saucepan, and put it on a medium heat until melted. Brush a 22cm x 30cm, high-sided, rectangular oven tray generously with the butter and lay one of the pastry sheets on top, making sure there is no overhang. Drizzle generously with the butter mixture and scatter over a third of the lamb filling. Repeat until all the filling has been used up and you are left with two sheets of dough. Drizzle these with the remaining butter mixture and layer them on top.
Bake for 50 minutes, until golden and crisp, and serve hot.
Pretzel and pecan banana rum pie
Lime and passion fruit bring tropical flavours to this dreamy banana pie. If you want to get ahead, make the crust and caramel filling the day before.
Prep 40 min
Cook 45 min
Set 2 hr
For the pie crust
135g salted pretzels – I use Penn State’s
¼ tsp flaked sea salt
1½ tsp demerara sugar
130g unsalted butter
30ml maple syrup
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
For the rum caramel
150g caster sugar
80ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp dark rum
½ tsp flaked sea salt
For the caramel bananas
100g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter
120ml dark rum
3 medium bananas (530g), peeled and cut in half lengthways
2 passion fruit, halved
1 lime, zest grated, then squeezed to get 1 tsp juice
For the cream
150ml double cream
150ml creme fraiche
2½ tbsp maple syrup
1½ tsp vanilla bean paste
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6, and line a 22cm-diameter x 3cm-high round cake tin with baking paper.
Put the pretzels, pecans and salt in a food processor and pulse five or six times, until they resemble breadcrumbs studded with small pieces of pretzel and nut. Tip into a bowl and stir in the demerara sugar.
Melt the butter, maple syrup and cinnamon in a small saucepan on a medium heat, then stir into the pretzel bowl. Press this crust mix firmly and evenly into the lined tin, put the tin on an oven tray and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the caramel.
Put the sugar and two tablespoons of cold water in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Cook for seven to eight minutes, resisting the urge to stir and instead swirling the mix around the pan to ensure it gets an even caramel colour. Take off the heat and carefully stir in the cream, butter, rum and salt – remember, the caramel will be very hot and may spit. Return to the heat and cook, swirling occasionally, for two minutes, until thickened, then pour over the pie crust and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Once cool, refrigerate for about an hour, to set.
To make the bananas, put the sugar, a tablespoon of cold water and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a medium frying pan on a medium heat and cook, swirling the pan as necessary to combine, for seven to eight minutes, until the mix turns amber. Add the butter and rum, cook for another three or four minutes, until smooth and thickened, then carefully lay in the banana halves and cook them for a minute on each side. Take off the heat, then arrange the banana halves neatly on top the chilled pie, leaving as much caramel sauce as you can behind in the pan. Return the pie tin to the fridge and set the caramel pan aside.
Now make the cream. Put the cream, creme fraiche, maple syrup and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon attachment. Whip for three or four minutes on medium speed, until you get soft peaks, then spoon and swirl the cream artfully over the top of the pie. Carefully unmould the pie and slide it on to a large plate.
Put the banana caramel pan back on a medium heat for two to three minutes, until it’s slightly thicker than maple syrup. Take off the heat, stir in the passion fruit juice and lime juice, and leave to cool for five minutes.
Drizzle one and a half tablespoons of the caramel over the top of the cream and pour the rest into a bowl or jug. Grate the lime zest over the pie, scatter over an eighth of a teaspoon of flaked salt and serve with the remaining caramel on the side.