Sunday 24 November 2013

Reci-pie Review: Spinach Sun Pie

Spinach Pie Recipe

I’m not officially a Pierateer but I do hop aboard as Ship’s Cook from time to time, so I’m setting sail on a quest to get people making their own pies at home. I’ve made it my mission to bake (and eat) pies, testing out recipes so you don’t have to.

I won't be giving points to the pies I make, but I will be talking about the Seven C's so you can decide which recipes are the ones for you.

My very first pie recipe is one that I made for a recent gathering which included some of the Pierateers and a few extra crew members who had been drafted in.

The recipe:

I found this pie on the Italian Chips blog. Ana, the author, links to the original recipe which is in Italian, so if you’re a bit of a linguaphile you can use that and if not, here’s the one I used:

You can probably see why I couldn’t resist trying this one! And don’t worry, it still meets the criteria for being a pie as the middle section is fully encased in pastry top, sides and base.

I’ve never made pastry with wine before, and the closest comparison I can think of is that it’s a lot like pizza dough but without the need for proving. If you’re used to shortcrust pastry (or any other type made with a base of butter and flour) this will taste different, but it goes very well with the filling and the doughy consistency is necessary for the slightly more difficult step – shaping the pie.

I was a bit concerned that my pie was going to end up looking like a squashed octopus, but I’m glad to say that it didn’t! Both the pastry and the filling are very durable, so the cutting and folding was pretty simple. By leaning the ‘rays’ against each other the whole thing was made extra stable ready to go in the oven. Definitely follow the instructions and build the pie on the baking tray – the finished article is quite big and it would be difficult to transfer it after it’s made!   

The Seven Cs:

The pastry in this recipe can take a while to turn a dark golden colour, but that’s easily fixed by leaving it in the oven for a bit longer. I was a concerned about burning the exposed filling on the edges but that didn’t turn out to be a problem, it just meant that the edges were lovely and crispy.

There’s no gravy in this pie as that would cause some serious structural problems. However, I thought the filling had a nice smooth consistency thanks to the ricotta and egg, and as spinach is fairly watery anyway it isn’t too dry or stodgy.

What can I say? In this recipe you mould the pastry around the filling, so this this scores very highly for capacity (especially if you eat the middle section). 

There’s no meat in this pie so you don’t have to worry about chewiness. The filling is lovely – soft, smooth and with a little bit of texture from the spinach. Yum.

For people who do a lot of baking and already have salt, flour, oil, eggs and probably wine in their kitchen, this is a very cheap recipe as I only spent £3.20 on the filling. It also gives you a way to use up stale bread as breadcrumbs. Even if you do have to buy all the ingredients you could feed six – eight people a decent portion of this pie with some mash and vegetables, so overall it’s very good value for money.

Spinach and ricotta might not be the most original choice for a vegetarian option, but it’s a classic for a reason - it looks good and tastes good. I think it would also work with other soft cheeses such as goats’ cheese or mascarpone, so there are lots of options if you want to experiment.

Condition: Not the most traditional of pies, but this is the one to make if you want to impress people. The shape is unusual and very pretty, and having some filling on show is a nice touch. It’s also easy to transport – mine went on a two hour car journey (wrapped in tinfoil on a baking tray) and arrived with no damage.

The Ship's Cook

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