The Bake Off Bake Along: Week 7 – Victorian

I loved this week that they’ve done a Victorian week – a new one for Bake Off! It has certainly got to the stage where I don’t want anyone to leave – I love them all for their quirky ways. Favourites are definitely Tamal (such a great chef, plus…um….hello!), Flora (so good, so young, so lovely!) and Nadiya (those facial expressions cannot be beaten, and she puts her heart and soul into everything she bakes!). This week had some interesting bakes – not loving fruit cake (plus a tennis court was odd?) I was torn between the Charlotte Russe, which I would love (pudding!!!) and the game pie which would be interesting and would be a treat for Adam as he loves any meat encased in pastry. Plus I have done a lot of sweet so far and now much savoury, so this week was set for game pie…the issue is…where do you buy game out of season?


As shooting season doesn’t really start until October, and being more unusual meats, I wasn’t sure where to get some pheasant, partridge, venison or rabbit for my pie. So naturally, I posed the question to the person I thought would know best – my boss’s wife. Not only do they do shoots themselves, she also went out at lunch time and actually dug out some of last years frozen pheasant for me to use in my pie!


So after the glorious wedding of two of my best friends on Saturday (and a rather drunken reception) I was feeling tired and quite hungover, but Bake Off cannot be put off for anything so Adam and I headed to the supermarket for last minute ingredients and came back to bake bake bake.


I’ve never attempted hot water crust pastry before so in many ways I was pleased to do this bake. It actually wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting – nor was the meat. Although I warn you if you’re not feeling your freshest, cutting up bits of raw meat does not make you feel any better – entirely self inflicted, but I also enlisted Adam’s help to do some of the meaty bits.


After flavouring and marinading the meat whilst I made the pastry, it went straight into the AGA to be properly cooked, as the Victorians would have done. Absolutely no idea what temperature the AGA was cooking on today, it is entirely dependent on the weather would you believe, and doesn’t have any thermometers so it can be hit or miss (or what we’d describe as “fun cooking surprises”).


The pie game out gloriously brown and shiny, with a gorgeous crisp crust. I was also really happy with how the decoration on the top looked. We had difficulty getting it out of the spring-form tin as I didn’t realise the spring wasn’t working any longer! I also didn’t read the full instructions before making the pie for dinner – apparently you’re supposed to cool it overnight! I had all of about 10 minutes to cool it off, so thought it would work best in an ice bath in the sink! Luckily, once we’d trimmed the crust and turned it over, the pie came out whole – wahoo!! Once cutting into it, meaty juices ran out, but Dad merrily mopped these up with some bread and declared it delicious. We then each tucked into a big slice for dinner with some chips, gravy and peas – practically a Northerner!


I loosely based my bake on this recipe, taken from BBC Food.

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 700g/1lb 9oz mixed, boned, diced game meat, such as venison, rabbit,pheasant, pigeon and/or boar (I used pheasant)
  • 200g/7oz back bacon, rind removed, diced
  • 2 tbsp Ruby Port
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme
  • salt and pepper

Hot-Water Crust Pastry Ingredients

  • 450g/1lb plain flour
  • 100g/3½oz strong white bread flour
  • 75g/2½oz cold, unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1cm/½in dice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g/3½oz lard, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, to glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease a 20cm/8in spring-form cake tin, about 7cm/2¾in deep, with lard.
  2. First make the filling. Mince 1/3 of your game meat which will be used to bind the pie together. In a large bowl then mix the minced meat, cubed game, diced bacon, port, spices and herbs. Season with salt and a little pepper.
  3. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients thoroughly together. Put in the fridge while you prepare the pastry.
  4. For the hot water crust pastry, combine the flours in a bowl, add the butter and rub in lightly with your fingertips.
  5. Heat 200ml/7fl oz of water, the salt and lard in a saucepan until just boiling. Pour the mixture onto the flour and mix together with a spoon. Once cool enough to handle, tip onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth dough.
  6. Work as quickly as you can now (as the pastry will become more crumbly as it cools). Cut off two-thirds of the pastry, roll it out and use to line the prepared tin, leaving any excess hanging over the side. Check there are no cracks or holes in the pastry. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid and leave to one side.
  7. Spoon the filling into the pastry-lined tin. Press it down and level the surface.
  8. Brush the pastry edge with beaten egg yolk and place the pastry lid on top. Crimp the edges using a fork to seal and trim off the excess pastry neatly. You can then use the remaining pastry to make decorative shapes, the more elaborate the better. Brush the top with more egg yolk. Make a hole in the middle of the lid for steam.
  9. Stand the tin on a baking tray and bake the pie for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160C/325F/Gas 3 and bake for a further 1¾ hours.
  10. Leave the pie to cool completely in the tin before removing. (if you’ve got the patience!) Slice on a plate to catch any juices – trust me on this one.


This bake wasn’t my personal favourite as I have such a sweet tooth, but for my Dad and Adam apparently it was perfection on a plate! The Victorians had some unusual recipes during their era, but I can agree that the meat had a great flavour and wasn’t overcooked at all. The pastry was crisp and golden and actually held together quite well considering the issues getting it out of the tin! I’ll be using hot water crust again for Adam’s long awaited pork pie birthday cake (it’s only taken 3 years for me to get round to making it!) and now I know how easy it is I’ll be doing it again.