The three day weekend presented an excellent opportunity to tackle a baking project inspired by the Great British Baking Show. In episode 7 of season 3, Paul and Mary presented the bakers with challenges from the Victorian era, including a raised game pie, meatpies made from hot water crust pastry in tall springform pie tins or other decorative molds.
I asked a few friends to dinner with a warning that I would bake an untested recipe for them – such good sports. Game meats can be chancy to prepare since the meat is very lean and absent of fat compared to commercially raised meats. I chose a raised pie recipe – approachable for most palettes – made with chicken, ground pork and bacon.
To make the pie, I needed a new pie tin. I bought an 8-inch springform pan at a local restaurant supply store. The vesica piscis-shaped (double pointed oval) tins like the one pictured in the recipe link proved too expensive for a first trial bake.
I enjoyed this baking adventure and my guests enjoyed the outcome at dinner, but I learned a few lessons from the recipe worth sharing.
The recipe author cautioned readers about keeping the pastry dough warm:
This pastry must be used whilst still warm, otherwise it will become brittle and hard to mould. I keep mine in a small pan over gently simmering water.
I followed her advice by creating a double boiler with small pans set on the smallest eye of my gas stove at the lowest heat setting. But the side of my pastry in contact with the top pan dried out from the heat. This created cracks in my pastry sheets during the bake. With proper timing, warming the dough in a pan isn’t necessary.
The ground pork and bacon also presented a problem during the bake. The high fat content of these ingredients released a lot of moisture which built up behind and leaked from cracks in walls of the pastry. Leaner game meat would not have released this much moisture. If I use these same ingredients again, I might render and drain their fat before incorporating them into the pie filling.
The final lesson learned centered around the gelatin which did not make it into the pie. The pie requires 26+ hours to prepare with most of that time reserved for cooling. I tried pouring my gelatin into the pie, but the fluid passed through the warm filling and out the cracks in the side of my pastry. Had I started my bake the night before and allowed sufficient time to chill, the gelatin would have congealed when poured into the pie. I could have avoided this issue with a closer reading of the recipe.
Despite the snags of this adventure, my guests enjoyed the results with a tossed green salad and a glass of Gewürztraminer. Next time I bake a raised meatpie, I will account for fat content in the meat filling, set my pastry as soon as it’s kneaded, and start baking earlier.