A spelt flour high pie
A treasured find in a small English village inspires a delicious high pie.
Rye, Kent, about 120km from London. The temperature is 35°C, boiling hot for an English summer. The narrow cobbled streets are sizzling and the kitchenalia shop I have entered is stifling.
But among the treasured vintage kitchen items, I spy a Beatall loose-bottomed pork pie tin.
Selecting old, pre-used bake wear can be tricky. The heavier the pan, the better, and I find the darker the pan and the more wellseasoned, the better still.
What a find. The dish was beautiful. To lovers of antique baking tins, this kind of thing is a treasure, and I couldn’t wait to try it out.
Dave and I spent part of the New Zealand winter in Surrey with our daughter. She is an excellent cook and we went through her recipes – which are in fact my recipes, carefully selected and made into a book for her when she left to set up her own home – to find one to try out with my new, old, pie dish.
Pies go in and out of fashion. I think they are in fashion again but regardless, I do love a good shortcrust pie, especially in winter. Deep dish pies are great to slice in the summer too as they hold their shape like a meat loaf. They are robust, travel well for picnics and outdoor eating, and are great in school lunches.
Dave enjoys cold and hot pies. He often asks if I will turn leftover casserole or stew into a pie. Sometimes I make a potato top, sometimes a fish or chicken pie.
The secret to a good pie lies in a good pastry, and I’ve been experimenting with different flours. Spelt flour is my latest discovery, great as a thickening in stews and sauces for a nutty flavour – it’s really delicious. It is an ancient grain that is really useful for anyone with wheat intolerance, and now easily available in supermarkets and health food stores.
It also makes a great pie pastry, if you know one trick: don’t knead the mixture when using spelt, and it is a bit moister too, so lesson the liquids in any recipe where you are replacing plain flour with spelt flour.