As well as my addiction to foodie mags I love me a good Saturday morning foodie show and start most weekends in the very fine company of James Martin and assorted chums.  Like Simon Hopkinson, for instance, who’s recipe this is (or strictly speaking his mum’s) and the sight of it being made was enough of a lure to buy the cookbook that went along with the show!  Somehow, I managed to sweet talk/con Hubby (*definitely con – Hubby) into making it this weekend (I think I called dibs on making the soup and left him with the pie…) and I have to say, it tasted just as good as I thought it would.

The slow cooking onions were soft and so sweet, which went perfectly with the sharp oozy cheese they were layered between, and the pastry literally crumble-melts in your mouth.  We ate it still warm with a big bowl of homemade soup, feeling particularly productive as a result, but I suspect it will taste even better still when Hubby has it at work tomorrow for lunch 🙂

Simon Hopkinson’s recipe uses Lancashire cheese only, but Hubby and I found it a little crumbly and quite salty so we swapped out half the amount required for a lovely Mull of Kintyre cheddar instead and it worked a charm, which is what we’ve listed in the ingredients bit.  If you’re a big fan of Lancs cheese though I’d go with Simon Hopkinson and just use 100% of that.

Cheese & Onion Pie
Sweet slow cooked onions go perfectly with sharp cheese in this Lancastrian pie.
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Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
  1. Stuff you’ll need for the pastry…
  2. 60g butter
  3. 60g lard
  4. 200g self-raising flour
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water
  7. butter for greasing
  8. Stuff you’ll need for the filling…
  9. 25g butter
  10. 3 onions, thinly sliced
  11. 1 teacupful of water
  12. salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper (white is recommended over black)
  13. 125-150g Lancashire cheese, coarsely grated
  14. 125-150g Scottish cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  15. a little milk to seal and glaze the pastry
Other stuff you’ll need…
  1. loose-bottomed tart tin (approx 20cm wide x 4cm deep)
Make the pastry first:
  1. Cut the butter and lard into small chunks and place in a large bowl with the flour and the salt. Gently rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips until it all looks and feels like very coarse breadcrumbs. If you’ve reached this point and it doesn’t look like breadcrumbs, but like dough, the best thing you can do is start again and make sure the fats are a room temp, as above, as you won’t be able to incorporate the water very well otherwise. That said, if you do have a breadcrumb-like texture, then mix in the water to bind the mixture together before kneading the dough until the water is well amalgamated. Don’t be afraid to go with the full 3 tablespoons if you think it needs it. Dust it with flour and pop it into a plastic bag, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You’ll want to take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before you’re ready to roll it, to give it time to come back up closer to room temperature.
  2. While your dough is chilling, put the oven on to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and pop the baking sheet in to preheat as well – this will help cook the base of the pie more evenly.
Make the filling:
  1. Melt the butter in a large roomy pan before adding the onions. Turn the heat down low and allow the onions to gently wilt and stew for about 10 minutes, you don’t want them to colour. Once the 10 minutes is up season and add the water, then leave it to keep cooking still over that gentle heat with an occasional stir until almost all the liquid has cooked off. Tip the cooked onions onto a plate, spreading them out to help them cool, and set aside.
Make the pie:
  1. Lightly butter your tart tin, and set aside.
  2. Retrieve your pastry from the fridge and tear about 2/3rds of it off. Roll this out until it’s moderately thin, and then line the base and sides of the tin with it. Use a fork to gently prick the base of the pastry all over in a random and moderate spread, then cover the base with half the onions and then half the grated cheese, and then repeat with the remaining halves.
  3. Roll out the remaining 1/3rd of the pastry to a similar thickness (or thinness!) as before, making sure it’s wide enough to cover the tin, and then gently lay it on top of the filling. Brush the edges of the pastry where the edges of the pie case and lid meet with milk to seal the lid before pressing the edges together gently to seal. Trim off any excess overhang, and then brush the surface of the pie with milk.
  4. Before you pop it in the oven, use the point of a sharp knife to make 3 small incisions into the centre of the pie. Lightly drag the point of the knife across the surface of the pie, not enough to cut through it just enough to mark it, to creat a lattice pattern. Lastly gently press the tines of a fork around the edge of the crust to help seal the pie.
  5. Put the pie on your preheated baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the pie is golden and you can see a wee bubble of cheese and onion juices coming up through those holes you made in the middle.
  6. Once your pie is out of the oven, leave it for at least 20-30 minutes before trying to remove it from the tin. It also helps to run a butter knife gently all the way around the edge of the tin, and then place the pie on top of something like a can before slowly easing the side of the tin down and off.
  7. Cut into wedges, and enjoy while its still warm or at room temperature.
A few notes from Hubby
  1. Make sure that your fats, the lard and butter, are at room temperature before you start. This will ensure that they’re much easier to work through the flour without a lot of kneading involved. Over-mixing will toughen the dough and just result in problems later.
  2. On the onions; I, being a fussy sceptic who loves his seasonings, added two of my ‘secret ingredients’, in a few dashes of Maggi Liquid Seasoning and a spoonfull of Chicken Powder (think fluffed chicken stock cube), and the flavour most certainly did not suffer as a result. Also, the recipe says ‘teacupful of water’ – I took a normal tea/coffee mug and had it about half-full, and this worked a treat.
Adapted from Simon Hopkinson
Adapted from Simon Hopkinson