Bacon and egg pie is a classic weekend lunch that is portable, tummy filling, can be dressed up or down, and is always a crowd pleaser. Last weekend my parents came for lunch, so I threw together this pie and dressed it up a little for the occasion by topping it with sautéed cherry tomatoes, onion jam and a sprinkle of Italian parsley.
The trick to making this a great lunch is keeping it simple. I used to make this pie with cheese and slices of tomatoes in it. Nowadays I make a stripped down version with just potatoes, bacon and the egg custard. The simpler ingredients means this pie travels better and is not too rich.
Bacon and Egg Pie
Preparation time: 30 min + 30-40 min baking time
Specialist equipment: spring-form cake tin (or pie dish if you do not have one)
3 medium potatoes (a waxy or all purpose variety)
6-10 rashers of streaky free range bacon
5 free range eggs
200 ml trim milk (plus a little more for glazing)
salt and pepper
3 sheets of flakey or puff pastry
oil for greasing tin
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (classic bake or fan bake). Boil the potatoes with the skins on, cool a little and slice into about 1 cm thick slices. Slice the bacon, trimming off any rind, and fry or grill until a little crispy. I prefer to use good quality streaky bacon because of its superior flavor, but if you are worried about the fat content then use a shoulder cut and trim the fat off. Whisk together the milk and eggs. Season this custard while taking care to remember that the bacon will add a little saltiness to the dish.
Clip a sheet of baking paper into the base of the spring-form cake tin. This guarantees that the pie doesn’t stick to the bottom. Spray or brush the sides and bottom of the tin with oil. I always keep a can of ricebran oil on hand for these sorts of things: a high flash point and low flavor makes it perfect for these tasks.
I use pre-rolled sheets of puff or flakey style pastry. You can also use the kind that comes in blocks and roll it out yourself, or even make your own if you feel you have the time. Line the bottom and sides of your tin, using water and a little pressing to glue each patch of pastry to its neighbor. Allow a little overhang over the top lip of the tin. You will use the overhang later to cover your untidy ends.
Layer the potato slices and bacon into the pie (I made two layers of potato slices each topped with bacon pieces) and pour over the custard.
You can just top the pie with another sheet of pastry, poke a couple of holes in it, brush it with milk and pop it in the oven. Alternatively you could make a lattice work or woven top for the pie. Cut 10 strips of pastry at least as long as the diameter of your pie tin. Lay one strip across the middle of the dish and five perpendicular to it woven together in an under-over manner. By laying strips back on themselves you can easily weave in the rest of the strips.
Once the lattice is complete, trim the ends so the mesh fits snug against the sides. Fold inward the pastry that was left hanging over the rim to cover the ends of the strips.
You can either leave this folded edge loose or pinch it together at regular intervals to make a decorative edge.
Brush the pie top with milk and bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the custard in the centre is set. When done and still hot, slip a knife between the pie and the tin wall to detach the pie where it may have stuck. Carefully unclip the lever on the tin to release the pie from its confines. Slide out and serve however you like.
Soggy bottomed pies are usually caused by either:
1. cooking the pie in a pyrex or ceramic dish that does not sufficiently conduct the heat to cook the base at a similar rate as the top
2. not having the oven hot enough
3. letting the pie sit for extended periods of time before baking it, thus allowing the custard to soak the pastry at the base.