Part of my reason for starting this blog was to collect all my favourite recipes together in one place so that my children would have an easily accessible database of the dishes and meals that I cooked for them. I genuinely hope that as they approach adulthood and start rearing their own families that they will use these recipes from time-to-time and will remember me with fondness through my love of food and cookery.
Many of my favourite things to eat were dishes cooked by my grandmother when I was a child and it is a huge regret of mine that I did not write them down and take more notice of where she originally got them from. Each family has their own unique history when it comes to the foods that they eat and this is something that should be cherished and preserved. Our attitudes to food, in this collective context, say so much about who we are and our attitudes to life. Many key family events happen around meals or are celebrated by coming together to eat and for me it is something of fundamental importance.
This is a very simple pie, made using fresh gooseberries picked from bushes growing in my garden. Gooseberries can be very tart, so I have sweetened them with a little more sugar than I would use when making an apple pie and have added nothing else. This is a straightforward, no-nonsense pie which is all about the flavour of the gooseberries.
The pastry is incredibly simple to make. Very cold butter is grated directly into the flour and loosely mixed through without being further worked in. A splash of water helps to bring everything together into a dough, which is then refrigerated to allow the pastry to rest before it is rolled out and used to make the pie. The resulting pastry is flaky when baked with a buttery taste which goes perfectly with the gooseberries!
225g plain flour
160g cold butter (I place it in the freezer for 30 minutes)
3-4tblsp cold water
To fill the pie:
500g gooseberries, topped and tailed
75g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1. Place the flour into a large mixing bowl. Using a coarse grater, grate the butter directly into the flour, mixing it gently through so that it is evenly distributed, but do not rub in. Sprinkle the water over the flour/butter mixture and mix in using a fork until it starts to come together into a dough.
2. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly and then shape into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to give the pastry a chance to rest.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease a Pyrex pie plate with some butter and place on a large baking tray. Set aside.
4. Divide the pastry in half and roll each into a circle slightly bigger than the pie plate.
5. Place one pastry circle on the buttered pie plate with any excess pastry slightly hanging over the edge.
6. Tumble the gooseberries into the centre of the pastry-lined pie plate and sprinkle over the caster sugar, leaving a 2cm pastry edge free around the outside. Moisten the exposed edge of the pie with a little of the beaten egg and top with the remaining circle of pastry. Seal the pie around the edge by pressing the top and bottom pastry edges together to enclose the fruit.
7. Trim the excess pastry from around the edge of the pie, using a small sharp knife. Brush the pie with the remaining beaten egg and cut a cross in the centre of the pastry top to let steam escape as the pie bakes.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the gooseberry juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving warm. The pie is wonderful served with some vanilla ice-cream or some lightly whipped cream.