When I visited London a few years ago Doro and I shared a Heidi pie we bought from pie minister’s stand. It was delicious. Their Heidi pie combined the intense flavour of goat’s cheese with the richness of sweet potato and the freshness of herbs and spinach. A delight I missed ever since.
Germany is not really good a things like pies. Although a classic pork pie features all the ingredients we Germans love — pork, parsley, jelly — I never found it at home. Not to mention something as sophisticated as a Heidi pie. When we visited the Street Food market a few days ago in Kreuzberg we also had a lovely pie (two in fact, but one was rather mediocre, so it does not count) and I remembered that I tried cooking a pork pie earlier this year. With good success even. So the next weekend I recreated one of the street food market’s pies, the steak and guinnes pie (with mushrooms).
And on Saturday I decided to give the infamous Heidi pie a try.
Here is what I did.
Recipe for six pork pies and six heidi pies
ingredients for the dough
- 400 g flour
- 120 g lard
- 100 g butter
- 200 ml boiling water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- a handful of thyme
for the pork filling
- 300 g of pork goulash
- a large handful of fresh parsley
- 1 red onion
- salt and pepper
for the Heidi pie filling
- half a sweet potato
- about 60 g of fresh or frozen spinach
- 1 red onion
- 1 cloves of garlic
- 100 g of goat’s cheese
- 3 teaspoons of sesame seeds
- a handful of bear leek
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- a pinch of chilli flakes
- salt and pepper
What to do
Start with the dough. Melt the lard in a pan and add the finely chopped thyme.
Fry it for a bit but don’t let it burn. Add the boiling water with the salt to the pan and stir to mix. While the lard is melting mix in the butter into the flour to get a crumbly texture. Form a well and pour the lard-water-mix inside. Using a spoon mix the flour into the liquid until you get a rather smooth dough. Be quick about it, the dough needs to be hot to be worked.
If you have a fancy pie case stomping gadget, use it. Put a small ball of dough in the cupcake tin and press it down with the gadget. Get it thin, but not too much and remove the gadget.
Make 12 pie cases. If you do not have such a fancy and useful device, roll out the dough to about 3 -5 mm thickness and cut out rounds of about 11 cm diameter, depending on your muffin tin. Put them inside the tin and use your hands to press the dough against the sides. Roll out the dough for the lids. Cut rounds of about 7 – 8 cm, according to your tin, they should be slightly larger than the top of the mould. Set them aside. Put the cases in the fridge.
For the pork filling bring out your finest knife skills and cut the pork into small pieces of about 1 cm in size.
Chop the parsley and dice the onion. Add everything to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Mix until you get a rather homogeneous mixture and set aside.
For the Heidi pie filling peel the sweet potato and dice it to cubes of about 1 cm size.
As it was my first cooking sweet potato I boiled them beforehand for a few minutes, but taking into account how quickly they cook I would not recommend it. Just put the dices into a bowl. Dice the onion into small bits as well. If you use frozen spinach thaw it in a pan. For fresh spinach heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and add the fresh spinach to it. Close the lid and wait until the spinach has disintegrated. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg to the spinach and add it to the bowl.
Add two teaspoons of sesame seeds, pepper, salt and the chilli flakes to taste. Chop the bear leek and add as well. Crush the garlic into the bowl. Mix everything until evenly combined. Prepare the goat’s cheese to crumble it into your cases.
Preheat the oven to 190 °C. Take the cases out of the fridge. Fill them generously with the prepared fillings, forming a slight bulge on top. Fill the Heidi pies halfway with the sweet potato filling, add some goat’s cheese and top it up with filling.
Brush the side of the cases with egg and put on the lids. Gently press them with your fingers to seal the pies. Brush the cases with egg and use a fork to crimp the edges together. Drill a hole in the top with the back of a small spoon to let any steam escape during the cooking.
Put the pies in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. After taking them out of the oven let them cool down for a bit, then remove them from the tin.
You can eat them now or wait for them to cool down completely and eat them later. They keep for several days without losing flavour.
After the baking you can fill the spaces in the pork pie with
a veggie stock jelly. The filling shrinks in the oven and some people dislike the empty spaces in their pies. To counter that, dissolve a sheet of gelatine in 200 ml of boiled veggie stock and pour it into the pie through the hole in the top. You might find a small funnel or a piping nozzle helpful to do this.
The veggie filling of the Heidi pie shouldn’t shrink so much, but you can also put jelly in them as well. I served my pies with a salad of Valerianella (corn salad) and a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For a first time use of sweet potato it turned out rather satisfying. The veggie filling was tasteful and diverse with a slight heat. I didn’t get to the Heidi pie experience in London, but I think I will get there with more training. The pork pies had a really good texture for the meat with a nice taste of parsley. I will definitely do this again.