The holidays are here, and it’s time to cosy up with these indulgent homemade pies and sweet tarts, courtesy of food writer and stylist Annie Rigg
“They might take a little time and skill, but pies and tarts are so satisfying to make and eat.”
Food writer, editor and stylist Annie Rigg trained as a chef, cooking everywhere from West End restaurants to fancy delis. “These days, I’m either found writing and testing recipes in my kitchen in Hampshire, or styling for photo shoots,” she says. Her latest cookbook, Pies & Tarts, is a masterclass in all things pastry-clad, from hearty pork pies to fruit-filled tartlets.
“There’s a growing trend for a return to real, honest cooking, and I think pies fit into that bracket,” says Annie. She’s shared three recipes that are perfectly suited to the lazy week between Christmas and New Year, when you want to lose yourself pottering in the kitchen. “The brunch pie is ideal for leftovers,” she says. “Its rosti crust could be made with potatoes and parsnips and you could crumble stuffing into the mix.” Cranberry sauce, meanwhile, could be swapped for the jam in the linzer tarts, while “any leftover brandy butter would be wonderful served with my treacle tart”.
Making pastry from scratch should never be intimidating, says Annie. “Anyone can do it. Just make sure
your equipment, hands, and the butter are cold. Work quickly, and don’t overwork the dough, as this can develop the gluten in the flour, leading to a tough pastry. And make sure your oven is preheated – if it’s not hot enough the pastry will melt rather than crisp up.”
For Annie, ‘twixtmas’ week is a chance to enjoy traditional festive food. “There’ll be batches of mince pies coming out of my oven and we’ll be living on leftovers from our roast turkey and ham. The bones will be used for soup stock and we’ll be squirrelling away savoury pies in the freezer to be enjoyed long after the tinsel has come down.”
And for those top-up shops during the holidays? “M&S always has great seasonal produce which, for a cook like me, is key,” Annie says. “And who could resist an M&S party snack?”
Pies & Tarts: For All Seasons by Annie Rigg (Quadrille, £22). Photography by Nassima Rothacker
“You could swap the bacon in this dish for leftover cooked ham and any leftover veggies from the big meal could be added to the mix – sprouts or shredded greens would be perfect.”
2 tbsp olive oil
8 slices of smoked streaky bacon
8 chestnut mushrooms, quartered or halved, depending on size
750g red-skinned potatoes (such as Désirée)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic granules
25g unsalted butter
50g gruyère, fontina or cheddar, grated
150ml double cream
12 cherry tomatoes
4 medium eggs
140g chorizo, sliced
2 tsp thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 20cm ovenproof frying pan or skillet. Add the bacon and cook over a medium-high heat just until the fat starts to crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook quickly in the residual bacon fat until just browned and softened. Remove from the pan, add to the bacon and wipe out any excess oil from the pan.
Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes, tip onto a clean tea towel, gather the ends of the cloth together and squeeze the excess moisture from the
potatoes. Scoop into a bowl, add the remaining olive oil, the smoked paprika and garlic granules and season with salt and black pepper.
Spread the butter onto the bottom and sides of the pan or skillet, to coat evenly. Tip the grated potatoes into the pan and press to cover the base and sides in an even thickness. Set the pan over a low-medium heat for 5 minutes to soften the potatoes on the base of the pan, then slide the pan into the preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes have dried out, become pale golden and crisped around the edges.
Sprinkle the grated cheese into the pan and pour over the cream. Arrange the mushrooms, bacon and cherry tomatoes on top. Crack the eggs into the pan – positioning one in each quarter of the pan – and arrange the sliced chorizo around them. Sprinkle the thyme leaves on top, season with black pepper and return the pan to the oven for a further 10-12 minutes until the eggs are set and cooked but the yolks still runny. Serve immediately, either cut into portions allowing one egg per person, or stick the pan in the middle of the table and invite everyone to tuck in.
Treacle tart with ginger
“Where gingerbread and treacle tart meet. If you have a bottle of smokey bourbon in your cupboards, then do use it here – if not, whisky is a perfectly suitable substitute.”
Serves at least 8
250g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
A good pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
40g icing sugar
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 medium egg yolks (keep 1 of the whites for sealing the pastry)
2 tbsp ice-cold water
2 tsp lemon juice
Crystallized ginger, chopped, to decorate
250g fresh brown breadcrumbs
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
325g golden syrup
75g black treacle
75g double cream
2 tbsp bourbon
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2-3 nuggets of stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped
A large pinch of sea salt, plus extra to sprinkle
To make the pastry, tip the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and, using a round-bladed or palette knife, cut the butter into the flour. Rub the butter into the flour until there are only very small flecks of butter remaining. Add the icing sugar and mixed spice. Make a well in the centre, add the egg yolk, 2 tbsp of ice cold water and lemon juice and mix with a palette knife until the pastry clumps together. Gather into a ball and knead lightly for 10 seconds, until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hour or until firm.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a round ball, about 2mm thick. Line a 22cm fluted tart tin with the pastry and trim off any excess. Chill the pastry case for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Place a baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven as it heats.
Prick the pastry base with a fork, line with foil and fill with baking rice. Place on top of the hot baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until crisp and pale golden. Remove the foil and rice and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry out the bottom. Brush the base with lightly beaten egg white and return to the oven for 2 minutes.
Prepare the filling: tip the breadcrumbs into a bowl, add the lemon zest, golden syrup, treacle, cream, bourbon, eggs and yolk, and mix well to combine.
Add the stem ginger to the mixture with the salt flakes. Mix again to combine and scoop into the baked pie shell. Spread level with a palette knife or the back of a spoon.
Bake for a further 15 minutes and then spin the tart around, reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2 and bake for a further 15–20 minutes until set.
Leave to cool down to warm or room temperature, then decorate with chopped crystallized ginger and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with thick double cream, vanilla ice cream or leftover brandy butter.
Peanut butter and
raspberry linzer tartlets
“These tartlets are a cross between a peanut butter cookie and a jam tart. This would be perfect to make with children, but it’s become popular in our grown-up peanut butter-loving house.”
125g crunchy peanut butter
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g soft light brown sugar
25g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
225g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
¼ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
300g raspberry jam
Spoon the peanut butter into a bowl, add the softened butter and both sugars, and cream for a couple of minutes until soft and light. This is easiest with a free-standing mixer fitted with the K-shaped attachment, but is hardly taxing using a bowl, spatula and muscle power.
Add the beaten egg, vanilla and lemon juice and beat to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix again until thoroughly combined. Bring the dough
into a neat ball using your hands, flatten into a disc, cover with cling film and leave to rest and cool at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and line two 12-hole muffin tins with 18 paper cases. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of 3-4mm and, using a 6.5-7cm fluted round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as you can from the dough.
Gently press the round shapes into the paper cases so that they form shallow tarts. Gather any dough off-cuts into a ball and re-roll and stamp out more rounds and stars.
Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon of jam into each tart and top with a pastry star. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry is light golden and crisp. Leave to cool then dust with icing sugar before serving.