I have always loved pies; my mum and dad made some very memorable ones that I still like to cook today. Here are some easy homemade pie recipes which I hope you will love.
These are some of my favourite pies, just the taste of them brings back wonderful childhood memories. To make life easier I have used ready-made pastry. Plus I will share with you my little tip for making a pie even easier.
*If you really want to try and make your own pastry here is a recipe and a method for rolling it out for great results every time. (I don’t recommend making puff pastry as it is just too time-consuming. The ready-made ones are so good they could pass for homemade anyway.)
Basic Shortcrust Pastry
This is an easy method for making your own light, crumbly pastry. It may take some practice but it’s well worth making your own. This will make 175g of finished pastry, enough to line a flan tin or make a pie crust.
110g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
25g lard, softened
25g butter, softened
A pinch of salt
A little cold water
Using a sieve, sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to get air into the pastry mixture. The way I do this is to hold the sieve up over the bowl, then tap the edge of the sieve with the side of my hand to shake it gently from side to side. The flour falls into the bowl as a fine powder.
Cut the fats into small pieces, add them to the flour in the bowl and use your fingers to rub the fat into the flour. Just pick up some flour and fat with your fingertips and rub your fingers and thumbs together lightly until the flour and fat are thoroughly mixed. It should look like a bowl of breadcrumbs.
Next, add about a tablespoon of cold water and mix it in with a knife. It should start sticking together and forming a dough. Then go in with your hands, bringing the pieces of dough together to form a ball. If it’s still a bit dry and floury, add another tablespoon of water.
The amount of water needed depends on the flour you’re using. Be gentle and handle the dough as little as possible, otherwise it can make the pastry tough and that isn’t what you want.
Wrap the ball of pastry in clingfilm or put it into a plastic food bag, and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Resting, as it’s known, will make it much easier to roll out the pastry; flour contains gluten which reacts with the water and makes the pastry strong and elastic. If you don’t allow it to rest the pastry will crack and break when you try to stretch it and roll it out.
Get your rolling pin and a large board or use a clean work surface. Rolling pins come in all kinds of materials. I prefer wooden ones but the choice is up to you, maybe a marble rolling pin or one made from glass will be better for you.
Take some plain flour and scatter it over the board or work surface – not too much as it will dry out the pastry. Dust the rolling pin with some flour too. Remove the pastry from the fridge and unwrap it. Place on the board or work surface and position the rolling pin in the centre of the pastry. Using gentle pressure, start to roll it out, using an up and down movement. Don’t roll it from left to right as it will end up a very peculiar shape. Mine once looked like a map of Italy. Not great, considering I wanted a circle.
Give the pastry a turn clockwise and carry on rolling, adding more flour if it starts to stick. It should be about 2- 3mm thick. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle, square or rectangle as you can cut the shape you want by trimming the edges. Your pastry is now ready to use.
Chicken and Leek Pie
This is a pie you will want to make over and over again. The light, flaky puff pastry, tender chicken and creamy sauce are a delight. Just the thing to warm you up on a chilly evening. Serves 4.
320g sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
650g fresh chicken breasts or thighs, or leftover cold roast chicken
2 dried bay leaves
Juice of half a lemon
150 ml milk
150 ml double cream
About 1 tablespoon of chicken gravy granules
Salt and black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Place the chicken pieces in a pan with enough water to just cover them. Add the bay leaves and lemon juice. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until soft. It doesn’t matter if the chicken is slightly under cooked as it will have a second cooking in the oven.
Allow the chicken pieces to cool and remove them from the bone (if using chicken thighs) then break into smaller pieces. Set aside. Discard the bay leaves.
Trim off the ends of the leeks and about half of the green stalks. Cut a vertical slit down the outside of each leek and run them under the tap to remove any soil trapped in there. Dry the leeks on kitchen paper and slice them thinly.
Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick pan until the butter has melted and started to sizzle. Add the leeks, lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. You don’t want them to brown, just to soften slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Add the milk and cream and allow to bubble gently for a few minutes. Stir in the pieces of chicken and add the gravy granules. These will add flavour and also thicken the sauce. Add more granules if you need to thicken the sauce a bit more.
Unroll the sheet of pastry from its plastic wrapping and lay it on a chopping board or work surface lightly dusted with some flour. Place a pie funnel in the centre of a deep pie dish with a rim and then pour the chicken, leeks and sauce all around it. If you don’t have a pie funnel, don’t worry, it’s not essential.
Dampen the rim of the pie dish with some water and lay the sheet of pastry over the top. It may be too big so use a sharp knife to carefully cut away the excess pastry. Then use the prongs of a fork to press down the edges of the pastry to seal in the filling. Using the same sharp knife, cut 2 or 3 slits in the pastry lid to allow the steam to escape.
Brush with the beaten egg, using a pastry brush. If you don’t have one, just drip it on with a spoon and use the back of the spoon to spread it over the surface. If you want, you can use the leftover bits of pastry to make decorations for your pie; leaves, hearts or whatever takes your fancy. Stick them on with some water then brush with the egg.
Put the dish onto a baking tray and transfer to a hot oven, gas mark 4/180C/350F for 25 – 30 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
All this pie needs is some green vegetables to go with it. Serves 4.
*To make this even simpler, cut out rounds from the pastry using a small plate or a saucer. Decorate if you like then brush with the beaten egg. Place the discs on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper and bake as above. To serve, spoon some pie filling straight from the pan and sit the pastry lid on top. I often do this if I’m short of time and it does look very neat.
Steak and Kidney Pie
This is a real favourite here in Britain, although I have a feeling its popularity may have spread far and wide. It’s a wonderful combination of tender steak and kidney in a thick, tasty onion gravy, topped with crisp pastry. You can use shortcrust or puff pastry for this pie. Serves 4.
*If you really hate kidneys just use the same quantity of mushrooms cut into thick chunky pieces.
450g braising steak, cut into large cubes
225g ox kidney
1 tablespoon oil
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
Half a teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
425 ml beef stock (one made with gravy granules is fine)
Salt and pepper
A sheet of ready-rolled puff or shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten, to glaze the pie
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the chunks of beef and fry over quite a high heat until brown on the outside. You may need to do this in batches to avoid crowding the pan with too much meat and creating a lot of steam. Remove the meat onto a plate and set it aside while you cook the rest of the filling.
Cut the kidney into small pieces and fry it in the same pan. It won’t take long to go brown. Remove it from the pan and add it to the meat.
Now fry the chopped onion over a medium heat until it’s softened and a golden brown colour. Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Return the steak and kidney to the pan and stir well. Put the whole lot into a casserole dish with a lid on and cook it in the oven at gas mark 3/170C/325F for about 2 hours. Check during cooking to make sure it hasn’t dried out but this shouldn’t happen.
Remove from the oven and let it go completely cold.
Put the cold filling into a pie dish and dampen the edges of the dish with water. Unroll the sheet of pastry and lay it over the top of the dish, pressing down the edges with a fork to seal it. Cut off the excess with a sharp knife and use it to make little decorations for your pie. Make a couple of slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape during cooking. (Or use a pie funnel)
Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg and bake in a hot oven gas mark 6/200C/400F for ten minutes. Lower the heat to gas mark 4/180C/350F and cook for a further 40 – 45 minutes. The pastry should be a deep golden brown.
Serve this very special pie with some creamy mashed potatoes to soak up the gravy, and a green vegetable or two.
Minced Beef and Onion Pie
This is another old-fashioned pie with a tasty filling of minced beef, onions and carrots in a delicious gravy, topped with light puff pastry. Slow cooking of the filling ensures an intense flavour. Serves 6 hungry people.
600g minced beef, 5% fat
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, sliced
A bunch of fresh thyme or half a teaspoon of dried
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 beef stock cube dissolved in 600 ml boiling water
Salt and pepper
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
Milk for glazing
Heat a large non-stick pan without any oil and when hot, dry fry the mince, stirring often, until browned all the way through. Remove onto a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions and carrots over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until softened and the onions are starting to turn golden brown. Add the thyme, tomato puree, mustard and seasoning and stir for a couple of minutes. Tip the mince and any juices back into the pan and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and stir once. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the pie filling for about 30 minutes until the gravy has thickened.
Remove the pastry from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to use it. Unroll the pastry sheet on a floured board or work surface. Take a 25cm pie dish and place it upside down on the pastry sheet. Cut around the edge of the dish with a sharp knife, leaving about 2.5cm of excess pastry. Pour the pie filling into the dish and place the pastry on top. Use a fork to press the pastry firmly onto the rim of the pie dish. Cut off any excess with a sharp knife.
Cut 3 small slits in the pastry in the centre of the pie to allow steam to escape. Brush with milk all over, place the dish on a baking tray and cook in a preheated oven, gas mark 4/180C/350F. Bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden brown.
Serve with new potatoes and a green vegetable.
Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pies
These individual pies are so quick and easy to make, but taste like you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make them. Serves 4.
4 large open cap portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
150g garlic and herb soft cheese
375g ready-rolled puff pastry
Salt and pepper
Beaten egg to glaze
Wipe the mushrooms with a sheet of kitchen paper to clean them. Unroll the pastry sheet on a lightly floured board and cut it into 4 squares. Place the squares onto a baking tray lined with non-stick paper, then put a quarter of the cheese on each pastry square, flattening it with the back of a spoon if necessary, Sit a mushroom on top, stalk facing upwards, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring the edges of the pastry up around the mushrooms and pinch with your thumb and finger so it holds its shape. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg then pop the tray into a preheated oven, gas 7/220C/425F for about 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and the pastry is golden brown. Serve with buttered new potatoes and a green salad.
Spinach and Feta Pie
This is a take on the Greek speciality, spanokopita. A dense spinach and cheese filling encased in crisp, buttery filo pastry. Serves 6.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
450g young spinach, washed and chopped
4 medium eggs
500g ricotta cheese, drained
Grated fresh nutmeg
400g feta cheese, drained
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons plain flour
10 sheets of filo pastry, defrosted if frozen
75 – 100g of melted butter
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the onions for 10 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute then add the chopped spinach. It will look like there’s too much but in a matter of minutes, it will have cooked down to a fraction of its size. Tip the mixture into a sieve and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out all the water then leave it to cool completely.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat well, then add the ricotta, nutmeg and some black pepper; the feta is salty so no extra salt is needed. Add the thyme then break the feta into small pieces and stir it in. Add the flour and mix well.
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat then place one sheet of filo pastry on a board and brush it with the melted butter. Top it with another sheet and repeat the process. Do this 3 more times until you have a stack of 5 sheets. Brush some melted butter around the base and sides of a shallow baking dish and line it with the filo sheets, making sure they come up the sides.
Mix the spinach and cheese mixtures together and tip them into the baking dish, spreading it out to form an even layer. Fold the edges of the pastry over then brush the remaining 5 sheets with melted butter as before, placing them on top butter-side down this time. Brush with the rest of the melted butter and tuck the edges of the pastry in so that the filling is completely enclosed.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the filling perfectly set. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve with a salad.
Old English Apple Pie
There are few things more satisfying than a warm apple pie, with its buttery pastry, softly-spiced apple filling and sugary topping. This is a traditional British recipe, but it can be enjoyed wherever you live in the world! Serves 6.
1 block of shortcrust pastry, sweet if you can find it
600g Bramley cooking apples
150g caster sugar
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Juice of half a lemon
A beaten egg to glaze
1 tablespoon demerara sugar to finish
First, prepare the apples. Peel them, cut them into quarters, and remove the cores with a sharp knife. Slice the apples thinly. Put the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon into a large bowl, add the apples and mix them with your hands so that the apples are thoroughly coated in the spiced sugar. The lemon juice will help to stop the apples from going brown.
Divide the pastry into 2 pieces, two-thirds for the base of the pie and a third for the lid. Roll out the larger piece on a floured board, moving the rolling pin towards you, then away from you, applying gentle pressure. Give the pastry a quarter turn and continue rolling. If it’s not a perfect circle, don’t worry, as long as it’s large enough to line the pie dish. Lift the pastry carefully by draping it over the rolling pin and placing it in the pie dish, pressing it down firmly. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Tip the apples into the lined pie dish, spreading them out so that they’re in an even layer, and roll out the remaining pastry to a rough circle. Dampen the edges of the pastry base with water, then place the pastry lid over the apples and seal the edges by pressing down firmly then using a fork to score lines in the rim. Make 3 slits in the lid with a sharp knife and brush the pastry with beaten egg.
Sprinkle over the demerara sugar for extra crunch and put the pie on a baking sheet in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 45 – 50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown all over and the apples are cooked.
This is good hot or cold, served with cream, custard or ice cream.
The Ultimate Pecan Pie
This American pie has become a favourite here in Britain too. Once you taste it you will understand why! Serves 6 – 8.
4 large eggs, beaten
100 ml pure maple syrup
50g butter, melted
75g light muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
300g halved pecan nuts
1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
Open out the sheet of pastry and use it to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin with fluted edges. Press it down firmly, making sure it’s pushed into the fluted edges of the tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F and bake the pastry case for 20 minutes. It should be a light golden colour. If the base has risen up, don’t worry, it will go down once out of the oven.
To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, flour, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the nuts. Pour the mixture into the cooked pastry case, using your fingers to turn the nuts on top, so that the curved tops are showing. (This is just for appearance, so it’s not necessary.)
Reduce the oven temperature to gas5/190C/375F and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Leave the tart in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove it onto a plate by placing the tin on top of a can. Slide the edges of the tin free and slip the tart onto a serving plate, carefully pulling out the metal base of the tin.
Serve warm or cold with some good vanilla ice cream.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and that you enjoy trying the pie recipes. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Pies are great comfort food. For more ideas on food that makes you feel better visit 10 Best Comfort Foods.
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