In the UK, there is a great pie tradition. Some languages have only one word for the casing, but in English there is dough, or batter, or pastry, to name but three. I tried a few pastry-based items, however one pie above all really stood out for me during my stay in London. In M&S in Stratford's new shopping centre, right next to the Olympic Park, there are two restaurants. In the top one, there is a tremendous view of the stadium and many other fabulous buildings, but the greatest feature is its Yorkish pasty.
I had only ever been moved to tears once before because of the delightful food put in front of me, but the second time happened there. And I really wanted to share the recipe with you because it is probably the best item of prepared food in the country. This is not precisely the recipe, because it's a closely-guarded secret, but it's as near as I believe to the original as possible.
Ingredients for the pastry (I made half twice - it was easier):
450g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 egg yolks (keep the whites!!!)
A pinch of salt
Instructions for the pastry:
Knead the flour, baking powder, salt, butter and egg yolk together until it looks like crumble mix.
Add some water very slowly until it makes the pastry form a dough. Wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for an hour.
Ingredients for the filling:
About 100g of swede (US = rutabaga)
About 300g of potato
300g of finely chopped beef
Some finely chopped parsley
Some ground black pepper
Instructions for the filling:
Cut up the potato and swede into very small pieces and drop them into salted boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain the water and leave them to cool.
Cut up your beef up into adequately small pieces. Do the same with the onion.
Instructions for the combination:
Switch the oven on to 180°C. Take the pastry out of the fridge. Pull off a lump and roll it out on a well-floured flat surface. Take a bowl or a plate and cut out a circle. Put some onion slices in the middle of the circle. Add some beef pieces. Put some salt and pepper on it, and add some chopped potato and swede. Sprinkle some parsley over the top. Use some of the egg whites to brush over the periphery of the pastry to be able to close it up over the top of the filling, making an envelope. Use some more egg white to baste the outside of the pasty so it goes a nice shade of brown. Repeat until all the ingredients run out.
Spread some butter inside a baking tray and put each pasty into it. You may end up with more pasties than room. Just baste a second baking tray. Put it in the oven for a minimum of 30 minutes. I put mine in for 45 minutes.
I made nine in the end, and they were utterly delicious. But it doesn't come close to the taste of a real M&S Yorkish pasty. Maybe because it was put in front of me.
If you do go to M&S in Stratford, you'll be surprised how many members of staff there are. It was a pleasure to not have to wait round until someone shows up. I hope they open up in Germany.