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Hardwood Furniture from Sustainable Sources

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Water Crust Pie

One of the very few things I miss about not eating meat is a pork pie so I thought I’d have a go a creating an alternative.

I didn’t want to make something that simply used substitute meat (Holland and Barret do a very realistic “porkless-pie” – it even seems to have lumps of gristle in it – no really, I recommend them).

Apart from the pork the two defining features of a pork pie are the pastry and the jelly. This recipe recreates the texture and feel of a substantial pie but is entirely vegetable based.

You will need for a large pie:

For the Water Crust

· 500g self-raising flour
· 250g vegetable white cooking fat
· 250ml water

For the Filling

A selection of cooked vegetables. I used:
· 3 medium courgettes
· 1 medium aubergine
· 4 sticks celery
· 1 red onion
· 2 peppers (any colours)
· ½ medium or 1 small cauliflower divided into florets

For the Jelly

· 140ml / ¼pt water
· 2 vegetable stock cubes
· Vegetable gelling agent (gelatine substitute)

 Crust Pie - Ersatz, Vegetarian Pork Pie


· 2 tbsp Oil
· 2 tbsp Flour
· Water
· Remaining vegetables


Pie Crust

· Switch the oven on to 180°C
· Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and make a hollow in the middle
· Put the fat and water into a pan and bring to the boil and simmer until al the fat is melted
· Pour the hot water mixture into the hollow and quickly beat in with a wooden spoon
· Then carry on mixing with your hands until you have a dough.
· Divide into quarters and set ¼ aside in a warm bowl and cover with a cloth.
· The remaining ¾ kneed back into a ball to make the base and sides.

· The traditional way is to hand-raise the pie over the base of a large glass jar, by standing the jar on the dough and raising it up the sides until you have made a “cup” that is equal thickness on base and sides (about 5-10mm thick). I found that very difficult, as while the mixture is too hot it just squidges down again and if it gets too cold it cracks and breaks off.

Another problem is that when you are filling it, the weight of ingredients can break the whole thing apart as there’s nothing to hold it together.

· An easier way is to use a 160mm-diameter deep cake tin with a removable base and raise the dough up on the inside, again ensuring a uniform 5-10mm thickness. It doesn’t seem to slide down again and when you come to fill it, you can have some confidence that the whole thing isn’t going to collapse and be ruined.

· However you have made it, chill the case in the fridge whilst you prepare the filling (don’t chill the dough you set aside though).


· Slice the aubergine and courgettes, lightly salt the slices and leave for 5 to 10 minutes then turn them and repeat the salting.
· Rinse the slices to get all the salt off and then squeeze them one or two at a time between the heels of your hands to get out the excess juice.
· Slice the celery and the onions, cut the peppers into slices longways.
· Cook the cauliflower for about five minutes – should still be quite firm.
· Sauté all of the vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil until just turning soft Pie
· Take the pie base out of the fridge and put the vegetables in, in layers to the top. Leave a slight gap round the sides if you can by piling the vegetables in the middle – this is so the jelly can fill the gap after cooking (there should be some vegetables left over).
· Take the ¼ of dough that you set aside and form a lid with it – it will need to be supported by the vegetables underneath, and poke a 2cm hole in the middle. · Paint the top with milk or milk and beaten egg and put in the oven.
· Cook for 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is a deep golden colour.


· Make a roux with the oil and flour then add water little by little until you have a sauce the consistency of clear honey.
· Add the remaining vegetables and transfer to a food-processor. Process until smooth.
· Taste!
· Season however you like - Marmite, peanut butter, tahini, fresh or dried herbs, pepper, etc. But taste each time.

Finishing the Pie

· When the pie is cooked, let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out by placing a plate over the tin, turning it over. Then carefully push the base and slide the tin off, finally removing the base.
· If the base still looks doughy, turn the pie over (by placing another plate on top befor inverting it) and then slide the cake tin back over it (don’t forget to put the base in again!). Then invert the pie again, so now the top of the pie is at the bottom of the tin and the uncooked base is at the top. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the base is a light golden brown colour.
· Allow to cool on a wire rack.


Once the pie is cooked and cooled
· Follow the instructions on the gelling agent pack, but –
· 1st dissolve the two stock cubes into the water (you might have to heat the water to do this – but if you do you MUST let the water go cold again before adding the gelling agent)
· Then use twice the quantity of gelling agent than recommended on the pack.
· Finally pour the liquid through the hole in the top of the pie and leave for 2-3 hours
· Add any remaining jelly to the sauce.


· The pie should be cut and served cold (if you want it hot, don’t waste time with the jelly and use the stock cubes in the sauce)
· The sauce can be sliced and served cold or reheated and poured over.


Dave Wardell

August 2002 

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