If there's something that'll help ease the misery of cold, dark, wintery weather, it is a pie topped with this pastry. It's a relative doddle to make, though still clearly weekend cooking due to the chilling time. Crisp but giving without being too flaky, deliciously savoury and very moreish: the perfect lid for chilly-day pie. I slow-cooked some beef shin in veal stock with shallots, fennel, aubergines, parsley and garlic, and golly it was blummin' tasty.
We should all be eating more pie.
Makes enough for one huge pie, freezes for a month or so.
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
125ml ice cold water
Handful herbs of your choosing, very finely chopped - parsley and chives work well with beef, tarragon would be lovely with fish or chicken, whatever floats your pastry boat.
120g grated hard cheese - I used Lincolnshire Poacher but pretty much any firm tasty cheese would work.
Tip the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the centre. Mix the butter and salt in the well, and gradually work in the flour with your finger tips. Try not to overwork the mixture or melt the butter with the heat from your hands.
Mix together the chopped herbs and cold water, before adding gradually to the flour/butter, mixing gently to bring it loosely together. Again, don't overwork the pastry. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Knead the pastry twice before rolling it into a large, rough rectangle. Sprinkle with a quarter of grated cheese, lightly press in the cheese with your hands, before folding the outer two thirds of the pastry into the middle. Turn the pastry a quarter turn, then roll out again, sprinkle more cheese, press, fold, wrap and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
Repeat the process again for two more 'turns'. Keep the pastry chilled until use, it'll need at least 20 minutes in the fridge anyway. I then rolled the pastry to size and chilled (again) before baking, but I don't think that's crucial. You should have enough pastry for a large lid, and an extra 'lip' for the outside edge. Make sure you cut some holes in the lid before baking.