I have made hot water crust pastry on numerous occasions, all to great success. It is fool proof to make, rolls out like a dream without cracking, is pliable and easy to mould into any shape and best of all does not need to be blind baked. It is a soft pastry yet has a crisp exterior. It is extremely versatile and in a pinch will work for nearly any pie or tart, both sweet and savoury. And if I have forgotten to say it is also very easy to make and very delicious to eat.
Hot Water Crust Pastry consists of three main components: Flour, fat and liquid. The traditional fat used is lard and the liquid is simply water. Many recipes use butter, or a mixture of butter and lard. Milk is often used in this pastry too. Egg is sometimes even added to enrich the dough and a pinch of salt is nearly always in there. I don’t add egg to my pastry as it is likely to scramble when you add the hot water and fat mixture which causes specks of egg throughout the dough. I also add butter to my pastry for flavour.
There are countless different recipes for Hot Water Crust Pastry. I find it odd how one recipe can tell you to use 100 g fat and another uses 200 g fat, yet both use the same quantity of flour and water. So, by some very simple calculations, I worked out the percentage of fat and water contained in many different recipes for this one pastry.
Larousse Gastronomique, which is my go to book for most recipes, has a 63% fat-water content. Delia Smith’s recipe has a 55% fat-water content and Andy Bates, a.k.a the pie man, has two different recipes for this pastry. One vegetarian version (without lard), which has a 75% fat-water content and the other recipe has a 82% fat-water content.
I tried both of Andy Bates recipes, and to be honest couldn’t taste much of a difference. So I spit it down the middle and went for a 78% fat-water content. Ms. Beeton and Richard Bertinet, whose recipe this one is loosely based upon, also both go for a 78% fat-water content so I felt that percentage was justified.
Once you decide on your recipe, you can then begin your pastry. It is a bit of an oddball in the pastry world and you definitely don’t need cold hands to make it. The fat and liquid are brought to the boil and then mixed into the flour to form a dough. The hot dough is then left in the bowl to cool for about 1 hour.
After an hour cooling, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flattened into a rough rectangle. Take one side of the dough into the centre and press down with your fingers.
Then lift up the other side of the dough and bring it over the top.
Press down the dough with your fingers once again.
Repeat this folding twice. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and place onto a baking tray. Cover it with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
And that is it, this pastry is the perfect casing for meat pies, hand raised pies and most importantly pork pies, which will be my next post. It is also a great pastry for enclosing a gorgeous brisket stew which is slowly cooked in Guinness and beef stock, which is exactly what the pie below was and made one of the nicest dinners, and next day’s lunch, ever.
500 g flour
200 ml water
120 g butter
70 g lard
1 level teaspoon salt
- Place the flour into a large bowl and set aside.
- Place the water, butter, lard and salt into a saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring as the fat melts. Once it comes to the boil, take the pan off the heat and pour it the bowl with the flour.
- Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are combined. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rest and cool for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten into a rectangle.
- Fold the dough into thirds by taking one side of the dough into the centre and pressing down with your fingers.
- Then lift up the other side of the dough and bring it over the top. Press down again with your fingers.
- Flatten the dough out again into a rough rectangle and repeat the same process once more.
- Flatten the dough into a rectangle and place onto a baking tray. Cover it with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
- The dough is then ready to be rolled out and used in your preferred recipe.