Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Three years ago, my lovely stepdaughter, Cat, convinced me to join twitter. As if I didn't spend enough time already on my computer!

But it's fun to follow Dalai Lama (whose tweets are not about food, but food for thought), or the The Onion ("Lucrative New Oil Extraction Method Involves Drilling Directly Into Gas Stations!")

Usually I look at tweets from baking buddies, food-magazines, and renowned chefs and bakers like Dan Lepard.

Brown Ale tastes good in and with a pasty!
For many years the author of Art of the Handmade Loaf und Short & Sweet published his recipes in the Lifestyle section of the  Guardian (alas, no more!)

When I saw his Ale-Crust Potato Pasties, I jumped on my bicycle (yes, at the end of November! In Maine!!!) to get local brown ale, sharp cheddar and white onions.

Pasties are meat and vegetable filled hand pies, originally the (easy to carry) lunch staple of Cornish coal miners.

Meanwhile they spread to other places, even Mexico, possibly due to a popular British Comedy-Show about the pasty munching, Newcastle Brown Ale slurping Geordies.

Like with many of Lepard's breads, the dough is minimally mixed, without much kneading. Hands, a spoon or rubber spatula suffice - the butter cubes should remain visible and not melt.

The beer dough is rolled and folded several times, and chilled in between, like croissant dough, to make it nice and flaky.

I spruced up the potato onion filling with a little bacon. The filling would have been enough for nine pasties, so I reduced the recipe amounts accordingly. 

The pasties tasted very good, we were especially pleased with the wonderful ale crust.

These don't last long!

ALE-CRUST POTATO PASTIES (adapted from Dan Lepard's recipe)

 (6 Pasties)

325 g bread flour, plus extra for rolling
175 g spelt flour, or whole wheat (I used spelt)
10 g salt, (2 tsp.)
300 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 cm (0.4") cubes
250 ml Newcastle Brown Ale, or similar

2 slices bacon, cubed
265 g white onions, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
15 ml olive oil
65 g water
salt and pepper, to taste
50 ml heavy cream
350 g potatoes, cooked and diced
70 g sharp cheddar, grated
egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Mix the dough only until it's clumping
Stir together flours and salt. Toss butter cubes through flour mix. Pour in beer and mix to rough lump (the butter pieces will still be visible).

This is what the dough should look like

Transfer dough to floured worktop and roll out into a approximate rectangle, about 1 cm (0.4") thick.

Even after rolling the butter pieces remain visible

Fold it like a business letter, roll it out, and fold it again into thirds. Wrap dough package in plastic foil and freeze it for 30 minutes. Repeat this double rolling and folding 2 x more at 30-minute intervals. Chill the dough for 1 hour in the fridge.

The dough package needs chilling after each turn

In a saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Using slotted spoon, take out bacon bits, place on paper towel, and set aside.

Add onions, oil, water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Cook until all water has evaporated, and onions are very soft.

Stir in cream, let thicken a bit (mixture should not have too much liquid). Remove from heat, add potatoes and reserved bacon, season well with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

Roll one half of the dough into a rectangle, then cut in thirds

Divide dough in halves. Return 1 piece to refrigerator. Roll other half into rectangle of ca. 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13"), then cut into thirds (a pizza cutter works well), each about 23 x 11 cm (9 x 4 1/3").

Place filling on one half (this is a filling with Christmas dinner leftovers)

Brush dough stripes with water, spoon filling towards one end, covering about half of piece (leave edges clean, otherwise you can't seal them!), and sprinkle with cheese. Fold other half over filling, and seal edges with a fork.

Repeat with other pastry sheet. Chill pasties until firm, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC.

Brush pasties with egg before baking

Brush pasties with egg, and trim cut sides, if necessary (and if you are a neat freak). Place on parchment lined baking sheets and slash tops.

Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate sheet 180 degrees for even browning, and continue baking for another 15 - 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Freshly baked pasties

Pasties work really well for leftover recycling of holiday dinners. After Christmas I filled pasties with our roasted goose-, red cabbage and potato leftovers including gravy. They tasted great!

Unbaked pasties can be easily frozen (before applying the egg glaze). You don't have to defrost them, just brush them with egg before they go in the oven, and bake them a little longer.

Ale-Crust Pasty with leftovers from our Christmas goose dinner!

This post, first published December 2011, has been completely rewritten and updated.


  1. I've been wanting to do more savory baking, thanks for pointing this out. Also, I will have to tell my dear friend Andrea about your site, she is German and blogs at http://ap269.wordpress.com/ though I think she's on hiatus. She and I both love baking bread! Are you in bar harbor maine, we are neighbors of sorts then!?

  2. ps my friend Andrea is in the same professional field as you! By the way, I've heard of pasties made with suet, does he give that as an option (not that I have suet on hand, mind you, was just curious).

  3. Sara, I don't think he put suet in these pasties, but I made some Eccles Cakes, where he used both, butter and suet. They were wonderful, by the way. I have yet to post about them.
    Where are you located? I do live in Bar Harbor, Maine.

  4. Savory baking, what a great idea, now I feel genuinely inspired. Twice a week, shortly before luch time, I pull a load of bread out of the oven. It would be very convenient to pop a few of these in the oven and make good use of the residual heat. I'm sure the kiddies would be appreciative.
    cheers and thanks for posting

    1. I made these twice so far, once with the potato filling, once with my Christmas dinner leftovers, the crust is so nice. Let me know what you think.
      When I'm back from my Hamburg-Trip I will bake your Götz-Challenge bread.
      Happy Baking!

  5. HA, you are a treat!! I have made lots of pasties so WHY didn't I think of BEER for liquid??? My original recipe had lard and butter so I substituted Earth Balance margarine or Spectrum organic all vegetable shortening and it works fine. re Newcastle Ale, I have had it but I will use Ayingar celebrator, I prefer a stronger taste. And I use a potato/carrot/rutabaga/parsnip/onion butter thyme cheese mixture. Thanks for expanding my horizons yet again :) I have 2 of Lepards bread books and they are interesting.

    1. Susan, I wouldn't have thought of beer in a pie crust, either. I used Newcastle Brown Ale once, and once our local Bar Harbor Thunder Hole Ale that is stronger, too.
      With the filling you have to keep in mind not to place a too large amount on the dough pieces (my recipe amount is just right, Lepard's was way too much, and I had a hard time sealing the edges.

    2. Yes, I have enough dough and filling for 8 and really have to divide it closely OR I have sometimes divided it in 16's for hand pies. My amounts are about the same, funny how they all work out! Thanks again and egg wash really makes them look special.

  6. looks and sounds really good; doughs containing beer I like better than drinking!

    1. The beer adds a certain spicy flavor, no distinctive beer taste, anyway. I like baking with beer.