Hot Water Crust Pies have a thicker, sturdier pastry for holding layers of vegetables and meat. These savory pies were traditionally used for creating hand raised pies, that don’t require a dish. However, you can still layer a ramekin, or deep dish with hot water crust and then remove once baked. The goal is to have a free standing pie with a firm crust.
To make the sturdy hot water pastry crust you need hot water, a fat (butter, lard), and flour. Nothing to complicated, just a change in the elasticity and structure compared to cold short crust pastry. It is important to mold the dough while its still warm. To make this process a bit easier, I decided to make individual pies using ceramic ramekins. So, if this is all new to you, don’t worry its much easier than you think.
Since its autumn, I decided to go with warm hearty flavors of butternut squash, basil, and spicy pork sausage. Oh, and lots of gruyere cheese! These are filling little meat pies and two people can easily split one. If it gets cold and you feel like some comfort food, I suggest making a batch for breakfast, brunch, or dinner!
Tips for Hot Water Crust Pies
- Roast your Butternut Squash first. Don’t over cook it, just enough to where its easy to slice into small chunks, not mushy.
- While your squash is roasting in the oven, cook your spicy pork breakfast sausage in a skillet. Drain grease from sausage and transfer to a plate with a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid.
- Set out fours ramekins, each with a 1-cup capacity.
- I have not needed to grease my ramekins, but if you feel they will stick, just give a slight coating with lard, butter or oil. But, from my experience they are fine without it and slip out easily.
- Weigh your flours and butter for exact measurements.
- Knead hot water pastry until smooth and elastic, just a few times.
- Roll pastry dough between two layers of parchment paper, to prevent sticking.
- Lift and drop pastry slowly into ramekin.
- Use your fingertips to press pastry into bottom and sides, making a smooth layer. Release any air trapped between pastry and ramekin.
- Trim off over hanging pastry with scissors.
- Make sure pastry is an even thickness by pressing and shaping with fingers. if you need to ‘paste’ extra pastry in certain places its easy to press it together.
- Use trimming to reform into a ball and roll out into a circle for making the pie lid after filling is packed into the base.
- Layer filling in base with cheese, squash, chopped basil, and pork sausage. Make sure to create a dome of filling at the top for wrapping lid across.
- Brush egg on the lip of the base before adding the top pastry lid. The egg wash will help seal them together.
- Cut a 1 inch ‘+’ in the center of the lid to release steam with a sharp knife.
- Brush egg wash across entire lid and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Place all four ramekins on a baking tray.
- Pies are baked when they have turned golden brown and when you tap on the lid sounds and feel firm.
- Let pies cool for about 15 minutes before running a knife along the edge of where the ramekin and lid meet. Don’t cut off the lid. Invert the ramekin and let the pie slip out.
- Serve warm.
- Top with sliced roasted tomato and fresh basil if desired.
- Store pies in the fridge in an air tight container for 4-5 days, warm before serving again.
Hot Water Crust Pies
Hot Water Crust
- 1 1/2 Cups (192 grams) ll Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup (128 grams) Bread Flour
- 10.5 Tbsp (150 grams) Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2/3 Cup (160 ml) Water
- 2 Butternut Squash roasted, skin removed, chopped into small pieces
- 1 pound (453 grams) Spicy Pork Sausage ground breakfast sausage
- 1 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
- 4 Cups (400 grams) Gruyere Cheese, shredded more if needed
- 1 Egg lightly beaten with a fork
- Sesame Seeds for sprinkling
- Roast Butternut Squash, by slicing squashes in half lengthwise. Scrape out seeds, lightly coat flesh with olive oil and place on baking sheet.
- Bake at 400 F (200 C) for about 20 minutes until flesh is tender. Remove from oven.
- Let squash cool for about 15 minutes. Cut flesh away from skin and then cut into small cubes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium skillet on medium-high heat, cook pork sausage until brown. Drain grease and set aside.
Hot Water Crust Pastry
- Place ramekin top side down on a piece of parchment paper, draw a circle around with a pen around the ramekin. Cut out the circle and save for later to measure pastry lid.
- Whisk together measured and sifted flour in a medium bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, bring butter and water to high heat and boil.
- Remove pan from heat, add flours and salt and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a dough forms. You may need to press dough against the sides to pack it together.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead with hands until smooth and elastic (3-4 times). Dough will be HOT, so use plastic gloves or knead then release and continue.
- Weigh you dough ball and divide into four equal pieces.
- Place a piece of parchment paper down onto work surface.
- Take one dough ball and flatten into a oval with hands, then lay an additional piece of parchment paper on top.
- Roll dough between the two pieces of paper into a circle, with a rolling pin until it reaches 3mm in thickness or 1/8 inch.
- Remove circle of dough from paper and gently drop into a ramekin.
- Using finger gently press dough into bottom and then against the sides. Trim off overhang. And smooth the edges, forming a small lip around the top of the ramekin. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry. If so, its easy to take a scrap piece and patch by pressing together with fingers.
- Take trimmings and from back into ball set aside.
- Repeat this process with the remaining three ramekins.
- Layer the pastry molds, gently pressing each layer to pack and fill in any gaps.
- Start with a layer of gruyere, then chunks of butternut squash, basil, gruyere, sausage, gruyere, and another layer of butternut squash.
- Make sure the top layer of butternut squash is taller than the rim of the ramekin forming a dome. then sprinkle with extra gruyere cheese.
- Paint a think coating of egg wash on the lip of pastry that is exposed around the rim of the ramekin.
- Roll out one of the ball of trimmings between parchment paper into the size of the paper circle cut out from earlier.
- Place this pastry circle on top of your filling to create a lid and let the egg wash help seal it to the bottom pastry.
- Cut two slits in the top of the pastry lid. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle a nice coating of sesame seeds.
Bake Savory Pies
- Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) and bake pies for 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 375 F (190 C) and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes.
- Bake pies until crust is golden brown and firm. You will see steam coming from the slit in the pies.
- If you tap in the lid and it feel soft, not crispy firm, bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Place ramekins on cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing pies from dishes.
- Take a sharp knife and go around edge of pastry where it connects to ramekin. Invert ramekin slightly to loosen pie, then slide pie out carefully.
- Top with sliced roasted tomato and fresh basil if desired.
- Serve pies warm.