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I’m writing this from paradise. Well almost. Our last weekend away with the in laws before they head back to snowy England has been eventful and it’s only day one. We are in Matapouri Bay, right on the beach. This is where we are staying. We arrived at this little beachfront gem, started unpacking, only to find out the men (named and shamed, Grandad Bob and Jim) have forgotten to load up not only Grandma Maureen’s bag, but also mine which also housed the kids clothes, nappies, toothbrushes, swim togs, undies …however they had their dive gear, windsurfer, bikes….turns out they had a lot on their mind!

So tomorrow, I’ve decided the only way to rectify it, (to avoid a 5hr return trip back home) is a spot of shopping for a capsule weekend wardrobe for four. So all may not be lost.

These pies were made for our journey, and they helped lighten the mood when the tension set in. If you don’t feel brave enough to try making your own flaky pastry just buy it from the supermarket. However homemade pastry really knocks the socks off store bought. Have a great easter, and if your going away, remember to double check you’ve got everything.

Flaky pie pastry – What you need

Makes 12 pies (or 6 pies with enough pastry left for a sweet tart) or freeze the leftover pies.
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) plain flour (I actually measured this out and kept it in the fridge – see cold tip below)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
225 grams (8 ounces) unsalted butter (must be hard and cold, keep it in the fridge until you need it)
6 or 12 cup muffin tin – dependant on how many your making

Egg and bacon filling – What you need

1 egg per pie (6 for 6 pies/ 12 for 12 pies)
1 rasher of bacon per 3 pies (2 rashers for 6 pies/ 4 rashers for 12 pies), chopped into chunks
1/2 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard per pie (3 teaspoons for 6 pies/ 6 teaspoons for 12 pies)
pinch salt/ pepper per pie
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 cup, parsley, roughly chopped
Parmesan, grated  – to sprinkle over the tops

Egg wash

1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons of milk

Tip: Keep it cold

The best advice I can give you when you make this pastry is to make sure you keep your ingredients cold especially the butter – you need to see the butter bits in the flour, this is integral in making the pastry flaky, and will make all the difference when you come to roll out your pastry. It’s ridiculously hard to roll soft pastry – I’ve tried it, it rips apart – so you don’t need to!

How to make

1. Place 1 cup of cold water in the fridge.

2. In a large bowl, add flour, salt and sugar and give it a good mix.

3. Coarse grate the butter into the flour mixture (see my mother in laws easy flaky pastry tip below). It should start to resemble pea sized bits. This is a great time to stop. You don’t want it to look like breadcrumbs – if so, you’ve gone too far.

Easy flaky pastry tip:

from my mother in law Maureen

Using chilled butter, slice  off the amount you need with a sharp knife. Peel back the paper the butter is wrapped in but leave enough for you to hold it with your hand, ” You could also cover the end with tin foil as Delia does” and then dip the butter into the flour mixture and coarse grate it into the flour mix.

4. Gradually add the chilled water a little at a time. Mix with a spatula, until it starts forming a dough, then using clean floured hands knead it into a ball. Using a sharp knife cut the dough in half and wrap in plastic cling film. Place both halves in the fridge for at least an hour.

5. Set oven temperature to 180 C/ 350 F

6. Remove one half from the fridge and using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll away from you, turning your dough 90 degrees after each roll. This will help to prevent sticking, and it also helps to shape the dough into a rectangle shape. Roll out to 3mm (1/8 inch) thick.

7. Using a round cutter, or an upturned small bowl (larger than the muffin tin holes – I used a bowl 15cm (6inch) in diameter) and cut out your pie cases. The pastry will sit over the edge of the muffin holes.

8. Sit the pastry in the muffin tin holes (you don’t need to grease the tins). Working quickly, remember you don’t want warm pastry. If your kitchen is warm, you can always place the muffin tray back in the fridge, whilst you get your filling organized.

9. Add to each pie case, chopped bacon, a pinch of chives and parsley. Crack an egg and with a knife, break the yolk. Spoon in wholegrain mustard and season with salt and pepper. Place back in fridge until you have your pie lids sorted.

10. With the other half of the dough, roll it out as before, but use a slightly smaller cutter or bowl to make the tops – remember the pie cases have to fill the muffin cups, whereas the tops lay flat over the pies.

11. Lay each lid over each pie case, gently sticking the edges together to form a seal. With a fork, press around the edges.

12. Brush over the tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

13. Bake in oven for 25mins or until golden brown. Keep the oven on. Allow to cool slightly  (10 mins should be ample) until you can remove from muffin tin. Then turn the pies upside down and bake for a further 5 – 10 mins until the pie bases are golden.

Pastry recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dough tip:

Dough will last for a week in the fridge or you can freeze any leftover.

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