You know, baking is an art.
Get it right and you’ll have the most delicious bake you can imagine. Doing it is one of those tricks that is pretty elusive. Too much liquid and it won’t hold together, too little and you can probably use the finished product as a weapon.
As northerners we are a bit fond of odd pies and pies so our baking has to be spot on. Nothing beats the taste of a melt-in-the-mouth pastry. I have a weakness for savory, but it should be easy to make. Being stressed out in the kitchen baking, covering every surface with splatters of flour for what turns out to be a piece of rock is not something I look forward to.
In this case, there is a savory pastry that will satisfy you to the end. It is a mixture of white and wholemeal flours combined with vegetable suet and butter. The result is an easy-to-work dough and the baked dough is rich, crumbly and utterly delicious. It has never failed me yet.
For this pastry, I used Lancashire cheese. We are lucky in this country to have very versatile cheeses. Lancashire cheese is milder, but I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have a nose for cheese. Also, the feta in this recipe can be replaced with goat cheese if desired, but it will give a much stronger flavor, if you like that kind of taste. I prefer the milder taste of Feta, which is made from sheep’s milk. The addition of nutmeg is that secret ingredient that takes the recipe to another level.
The pastries are quite easy to make but require a little precision in cutting the squares of dough. Math meets cooking class.
We hope that the summer will be glorious. These pastries will be ideal for outings and picnics. They keep very well in a lunch box.
Lancashire Pastries by Mak Patel
Lancashire cheese and spinach pastries
For the pastry
120g plain flour
120g Wholemeal flour
75 g grated vegetable suet
75g salted butter
85ml whole milk
300 g potatoes, peeled and diced
100g Lancashire cheese, grated, plus extra for topping
100 g Feta cheese, crumbled
100ml double cream
1 egg, beaten
A generous pinch of finely grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg for gilding.
1. Make the dough. Combine flours and suet. Add the cold butter and rub the mixture in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add milk and mix. Knead until the dough is smooth. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge. Do the filling
2. Boil the diced potatoes for about 10 minutes in salted water. They must be firm.
3. In a bowl, pour boiling water over the spinach to cover it completely. Drain the water and squeeze all the water from the spinach. You will end up with a rounded handle. Cut the spinach ball into small pieces.
4. In the bowl, add the potato, spinach, cheeses, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside
5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a clear rectangle 26cm by 39cm. This dough is very easy to work with and rolling won’t be a problem. It should be the thickness of a 2p coin. Measure the rectangle and cut it out.
6. In the rectangle, cut 6 squares each measuring 13 cm x 13 cm.
7. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each square. Dampen the outer edges with water and gather the corners into bundles, taping each edge firmly.
8. Wash each pastry with egg and place additional grated cheese on top. Make a small slit on two opposite sides of each pastry to let air escape during baking.
9. Bake on fan at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. The cheese on top should be browned and not burnt.
These can be enjoyed hot or cold.
You can chill unbaked pastries in the fridge (2 days max) or freeze them when ready. Cook them frozen.