The Hairy Bikers' homity pie recipe

The Hairy Bikers / 01 November 2018 ( 16 June 2020 )

This traditional British homity pie is thought to date back to the Second World War, but it was its inclusion on the menu at Cranks Vegetarian Restaurant in the 1960s that saw it grow in popularity.

Preparation time

30 minutes

Cooking time

40-45 minutes

Serves

4-6



Ingredients

For the filling

  • 400g waxy potatoes, diced
  • 300g carrots, diced
  • 150g turnips, diced
  • 200g small broccoli florets
  • 15g butter*
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 175g Cheddar cheese, grated*
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 50ml milk or water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 200ml double cream*
  • Sea salt

For the pastry

  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 150g cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten

* For vegan alternatives see editor's note below


Method

Popular in the seventies and eighties, homity pies were often seen as somewhat worthy – leathery, unappetising with a smug crust. But we thought this pie deserved a second look. This recipe is the grandson of those early pies and, we bashfully believe, a great improvement. We’ve cut down on the potatoes to make it less heavy and added some broccoli and other root veg – although you can vary these as you like. Celeriac and swede would also work well in this deep-filled homity pie. A great vegetarian dish that can be enjoyed by all.

To make the pastry, put the flours and butter into a food processor with a generous pinch of salt and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and just enough cold water to bind the mixture together. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film, and leave it to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, carrots and turnips and bring the water back to the boil. Cook for 4 minutes, then add the broccoli.

Continue to cook until the vegetables are just done but still with a little bite to them – this will take about another 2 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

While the vegetables are cooking, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions have softened and are lightly coloured. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.

Put all the cooled vegetables into a large bowl. Add 100g of the cheese and the parsley, then mix thoroughly and set aside.

Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 20cm cake tin or a deep pie dish. Spoon the filling over the pastry. Whisk the milk and mustard together until you have a thin paste, then stir this into the cream. Season with a little salt. Pour this mixture in a slow and steady stream over the filling so it soaks through the layers of vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake the pie in the oven for 40–45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and lightly coloured and the cheese has melted and started to brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

For more vegetarian recipes from the Hairy Bikers try their vegetable Thai curry, red onion and beetroot tart, vegetarian chilli or avocado poke bowl.

Whether you like them boiled, mashed or stewed, there’s plenty to discover with our other potato recipes.

British Classics The Hairy Bikers

The Hairy Bikers’ British Classics by Si King and Dave Myers is published by Seven Dials in hardback at £22

Visit our vegetarian section for more meat-free meal ideas

Editor's note: how to make a vegan homity pie

Homity pie has been a favourite in vegetarian restaurants like Cranks for decades, and the recent growth in veganism has seen so many dairy-free alternatives to ingredients like butter, milk and cream that it's actually quite easy to adapt this recipe into a vegan homity pie.

  • Butter: use a dairy-free block such as Naturli Vegan Block (made mainly from shea oil) or one of the many dairy-free spreads such as Vitalite or Flora.
  • Milk: there's a huge amount of dairy-free replacements you can use, such as soy, almond, hemp or oat. Oat is particularly creamy so makes a great cheese sauce.
  • Cream: Elmlea Double Plant-Based makes a great alternative to double cream in sweet and savoury recipes. You could also use Oatly Creme Fraiche, which is even thicker.
  • Cheese: the vegan cheese market has increased a lot in recent years, and even big cheese companies like Applewood are jumping on the bandwagon. Supermarkets usually have their own-brand cheddar-style, mozzarella-style or cream cheese-style, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a suitable replacement. Nutritional yeast flakes (available from health food stores) can also be used to add a savoury, cheesy taste so you can use it in conjunction with a dairy-free cheese to give it a stronger flavour.
  • Pastry: you can make your own vegan pastry using the alternative ingredients, but if you want to save time you could also just use shop bought shortcrust pastry, which is almost always accidentally vegan.

The history of homity pie

The origins of the homity pie are vague, it's widely believed to have originated in the South West, either Cornwall or Devon, with 'Devon pie' being a common name for it. What we do know is that it really came into its own during World War II as it primarily uses vegetable ingredients which weren't rationed, much like another popular vegetable pie from the era, Woolton pie. With the nation being encouraged to 'dig for victory' this veg-packed pie was just the ticket as it includes easy-to-grow vegetables like potatoes, turnips, leeks and carrots. The rationed ingredients like cream and cheese would have been used sparingly for flavour.

In the 1960s homity pie saw a revival when Cranks Vegetarian Restaurant added it to its menu at a time when vegetarianism was gaining popularity, particularly among the hippie subculture.

In more recent years homity pie has been popularised by the Hairy Bikers in their Best of British series, and it's this deep-filled version that doesn't skimp on the previously rationed ingredients that is popular today as a tasty and frugal vegetarian pie.

Want something different? Try one of these delicious pie recipes.


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