Vegan Holiday Pie with Hot Water Pastry

December 18, 2017

Here's your holiday main dish sorted. I first made this pie for friends at thanksgiving and it was phenomenal, and so pretty. Until I dropped it on the floor and smashed it, hah. The whole pie exploded, the plate broke, and the springform base somehow managed to get a whole in it. We salvaged some of the pie and everyone loved it, so I had to share here. It's a perfect Christmas meal. I always find the plant based options so boring - nut loaf (yuck), soy-based, or sort of everyday things like regular shepherd's pie and lasagne. When I was still eating dairy it was a bit easier, but I always felt terrible afterwards. The thing is, there should be a dramatic holiday main dish too! Isn't it always so disappointing when it seems like the vegetarian dishes for holidays are all just sides? It ends up being a bit like a mezze, which is great, but I've always wanted an option that's definitely a main, like the big centrepiece. This dish evokes the same feelings as the goose, or whatever holiday main, you grew up with. 

A great thing about this pie is that although it is a pie, it's not just grains and starches. The filling is all vegetables and lentils so you're not packing in potatoes and nothing else. To me, it's cozy, comforting food that I want during the colder months and holiday season, but not uncomfortable to eat a big portion of. If you're concerned that it might be a bit complicated, it really isn't. I always make the filling the night beforehand so all that's needed the day of is to make the crust and bake it. The only slightly tricky bit is that you may not be familiar with the method used to make the crust, because it's hot water pastry. It's the opposite of a standard pastry, which should be kept as cold as possible. The pie needs a really sturdy, crispy crust to hold everything in and hot water pastry is the only real option for that. You end up with a lovely crispy outside and the filling is a bit like a lentil shepherd's pie. Graham's brought leftovers to work a few times now and said it's great cold, too. 

I first saw a hot water pastry on Great British Bake Off but they were real sticklers about the pie being made on the outside of a pan (hand raising), and I suppose the British are nothing if not keepers of tradition, but it's really not necessary. It's much easier to use a standard springform and do the pastry on the inside. The difference between a standard pastry and this version is that this uses boiling water and hot/melted oil to create a uniform crust. Standard pastry utilizes pieces of fat to create pockets and flakiness. Hot water pastry is so simple but you have to work quite quickly. Make sure you have the pan greased, the filling ready to go, and work confidently. Everything needs to be rolled out and in place within maximum 10 minutes or it all goes to shit. I don't mean to scare you off - I'm not great at pastry and I can do this! Obviously I'm not very good or there wouldn't be any filling on the outside of my pie, like you can see in the pictures. I waited a touch too long before adding the top and it didn't quite crimp properly, but it still works. There is room for error in terms of tearing because it can be patched, so don't worry if things get a bit messy while you're working quickly. If you're very uncertain about making the pastry and you don't have any issues with standard wheat flour, try all-purpose or a mix of all-purpose and bread flour, as outlined in the GGBO video the first time you make it as it will be a bit more forgiving than spelt.

This is a good guideline for how to make a hot water crust if you're more of a reader, and this is the GGBO video. If this is your first time working with hot water pastry, I especially recommend watching the video, and make sure you read the tips and notes below the recipe before starting. NOTE, however, that most of the information online says that this can't be made vegan, which is ridiculous. Of course it can. This is a vegan hot water pastry, uses a lower-gluten flour, and it works perfectly. I've made it several times now and I'm always happy with the results. It's still sturdy, patchable, crisp, and the flavour is excellent. You do need some gluten for this to work, so I went with my go-to, spelt. Happy whole food Christmas!

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Vegan Holiday Pie with Hot Water Pastry
Serves 6-8 people

For the filling

1 tablespoon oil (grapeseed, sunflower, coconut)
200 grams / 3 cups* mushrooms, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
300 grams / 2 cups carrots, cut into 1cm slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
60 ml / 1/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes*
375 ml / 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons red wine (optional)
150 grams / 1 cup brown lentils*
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
60 ml / 1/4 cup water
300g / 2 cups frozen peas

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the mushrooms and sear* for about 4 minutes, or until golden and significantly reduced in size. Stir in the onion and cook for another 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the carrots, and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, cook for an additional minute, then add the spices and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour the apple cider vinegar into the pot and stir, then the tomatoes, water, and red wine (if using). 

Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and reduce the heat to medium low, then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir in the mustard and taste for seasoning, adjusting if needed. Use a fork to whisk the arrowroot powder into the 1/4 cup water then pour into the pot and stir. It should thicken immediately. Add the peas and remove from the heat. Set this aside while you make the pastry.

For the pastry

230 grams / 2 cups spelt flour*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
80 ml / 1/3 cup water
50 grams / 1/4 cup coconut oil
60 ml / 1/4 cup olive oil

Grease a 20 cm / 8 inch springform pan with coconut oil and preheat the oven to 190C / 375F. Keep the filling on hand, and clear your countertop.

Place the flour and salt into a large heat safe bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the water, coconut oil, and olive oil to a low boil over medium heat. Pour the water mixture into the bowl and stir briskly with a wooden spoon* until it starts to combine. Use your hands - it will be hot, but shouldn't burn - to mix and knead the dough for about a minute or until it forms a smooth ball.

Separate the pastry into two pieces, two-thirds and one-third. Lightly flour a countertop and place two-thirds of the pastry onto it. You can also roll the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to about 1 cm thick, resisting the urge to go thinner, turning occasionally, and working quickly. Place the rolled out pastry into the prepared springform and gently lift the sides and press the base and seams until settled. If it rips simply patch it with some extra pastry from the top. Make sure there are no empty spaces between the pan and the pastry.

Place the filling into the pastry and press down gently with a spoon, again working quickly (your pastry for the topping is waiting). Flour the countertop again and roll out the remaining one-third of the pastry to 1 cm thick. Place this onto the pie and use your thumbs and fingertips to press the base and the top pastry together, then use a fork to seal it. There should be a lip of pastry slightly higher than where the filling ends. Trim any excess pastry with a knife.

Use a wooden spoon to make at least one vent in the top of the pie. Bake for 60 minutes at 190C / 375F, then increase the heat to 220C / 430F for an additional 10 minutes to brown the pastry. Carefully remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes before removing the sides of the pan, and serve hot. Don't drop it.

• My pie cracked a bit when I took it off the springform base and it was quite cool when I photographed it, so I recommend serving it on the base instead of trying to lift/slide it off.
• You don't have to use the wine. I've made it both with and without and using it adds a bit of depth, but if you don't keep it in the house, don't buy a bottle just for this recipe.
• I suggest making the filling either the night before or the morning of that you're planning to serve the pie. It's a lot easier to work with when it's not piping hot and it'll reduce cooking stress. It also freezes really well.
• Usually you'd knead a bit longer with a hot water pastry but we're using spelt and don't want to over mix.
• Don't use too much flour on your countertop - first, you don't need it as this isn't a sticky dough, and second, if you add too much additional flour the pastry could crack.
• Leftovers keep very well indeed, for about three days in the fridge. To reheat and crisp it up again, just pop it in the oven at 200C for about 10 minutes, or have it cold.

1. Measure the mushrooms in cups after chopping, not before.
2. Try to soak the lentils beforehand, 24 hours if you can. If not, rinse them well before adding.
3. The mushrooms need to have the water cooked out of them. Add a pinch of salt if you see too much water forming and turn the heat up if necessary to keep them from turning rubbery.
4. I time my recipes with a stopwatch BUT depending on the type of pan you use, the stove, and so on, timing will be different.
5. I generally use primarily light spelt flour, and haven't tried with all whole spelt. I've gone up to 50/50 and it worked.

2 comments on "Vegan Holiday Pie with Hot Water Pastry"
  1. That is one impressive-looking savory pie!

    1. Thanks! It's a new holiday staple for us now :)