I have only three fears in life. Sharks, spiders, and putting a pastry base in the oven without blind baking it first.
Unfortunately, it was as if The Glasgow Cookery Book had caught wind of the latter and was punishing me for it, for some unknown reason. The fear itself was probably born of a culmination of factors: watching too many episodes of the Great British Bake Off (which is set to hit screens soon by the way - who's excited?) and Paul Hollywood's disapproving face when met with a soggy bottom, and the jam tarts of my youth: pallid, flabby, and a generally disappointing. Sounds like a couple of ex-boyfriends too, come to think of it.
Cumberland pie is one of those wonderful things the Glasgow Cookery Book is famous for - recipes that are totally different to what we expect them to be. Whether that's because our approximations of dishes have changed throughout the course of time or just that we haven't really got a clue about what they're supposed to be in the first place, who knows. But it's pretty fun embarking on the taste journey to discover new things.
Cumberland pie sounds like something that should contain sausage, maybe, from the name. Instead, it's a bacon, egg and tomato pie - all the components of a great breakfast. Like my previous forgotten recipe, egg cutlets, it falls under the category of 'meals that can be sliced and taken with you on the hoof' - and that, in my eyes at least, means a certified winner. Un-blind baked pastry bottom or not.
I started by rolling out some short crust pastry to fit the shape of a baking dish and carefully laid the it over, ensuring no cracks. I then fried bacon and blanched a tomato (just the one - people 100 years ago obviously didn't feel the need to supersize every dish like this glutton does) before peeling and slicing it.
The tomato and bacon ('cut' - as the recipe dictated. I did it with scissors - much more enjoyable than with a knife) went into the dish followed by two eggs, whisked and seasoned. Finally I made a small pastry lid to sit on top of the eggy-bacony-tomatoey-pie and placed it in the oven on the middle shelf.
It's probably worth pointing out here that my irrational soggy bottom fear is relatively unfounded, because I love soggy pastry. Strange, I know. But any worries that this Cumberland Pie was going to emerge with anything less than a totally tappable bottom (tried and tested Paul Hollywood technique there - honestly) was unfounded. Its base was, in fact, absolutely fine. It tasted like a kind of less exciting, more pastry-heavy Quiche Lorrain, aka, everyone's favourite egg pie.
Would I make it again? Absolutely. It's the kind of breakfast treat you can stick in your bag and eat at leisure at work, while everyone guesses what you've made. And, naturally, anything that ensures an extra 15 minutes in bed has got to be on to a good thing.
Here's how I did it.
6 oz short or flaky pastry
3 oz bacon
1. Line a sandwich tin or flan ring with half the pastry
2. Cut bacon into small pieces, skin and slice tomato
3. Beat eggs, season
4. Arrange bacon and tomato on foot of tin
5. Pour egg over
6. Cover with remaining pastry, brush with egg or milk. Bake for 30 mins.