British Pie Week

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Plum and Rhubarb Pie from Leith's How to Cook Pastry

7 Mar 2017 |

 Bake something delicious for British Pie Week


This recipe uses wholemeal pastry and includes a little lard, for shortness. The wholemeal flour lends a lovely nuttiness, but you can use half plain/half wholemeal if you prefer. If the plums are large or not very ripe they should be cooked in a little sugar syrup first.               

You will need a 1.3–1.4 litre rectangular pie dish. 



170g wholemeal flour, plus extra to dust

Generous pinch of salt 25g lard

60g chilled butter

2 tbsp chilled water


500g small plums

½ tsp ground cinnamon 3–6 tbsp demerara sugar, to taste 250g rhubarb

(3–4 small sticks) 2–3 tbsp caster sugar, to finish


For the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the fats into the flour, then use your fingertips to rub the flour and fat together, giving the bowl an occasional shake to lift the larger lumps of fat to the surface.

Add 1½ tbsp of the water and use a cutlery knife to distribute as quickly as possible, creating flakes of pastry. Pull some of the flakes to the side and feel them; if they are very dry, add a little more water to any dry areas of crumb and use the knife again.

Use the flat of the knife to bring a few of the flakes and dry crumb together, creating larger lumps. Continue like this until there are no dry crumbs left in the bottom of the bowl.

Pull the pastry together with your hands, shaping it into a flat disc, about 10cm in diameter and about 1.5cm thick, working as quickly as possible to avoid the pastry becoming tough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20–30 minutes. oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, halve and stone the plums, then place in a large bowl with the cinnamon and demerara sugar. Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and add to the bowl. Toss everything together to coat the fruit and tip into the pie dish; the fruit should come up to the rim.

Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3–4mm thickness and about 5cm bigger than the top of the pie dish.

Cut a strip of pastry from each edge, the same width as the rim of the dish. Press the strips onto the rim of the pie dish, sealing the joins. Brush lightly with water and place the rolled-out pastry on top. Trim the edges using a knife and crimp them by pressing between the forefingers and thumb.

Shape leaves or decoration from the pastry trimmings, then brush the top of the pie with water and decorate with the pastry leaves. Brush the leaves with water and dredge the whole pie with caster sugar.

Cut 1 or 2 small slits in the pastry top for steam to escape, then place the pie on a lipped baking tray and bake on the top shelf of the oven for 30–35 minutes until the pastry is cooked and the fruit is tender; use a skewer through a steam hole to allow to cool a little before serving.

A note on the cooking juices…

The plums and rhubarb release a lot of juice. If you prefer more syrupy juices, add 2-3 tablespoons corn flour to the fruit, which will help it thicken.

Leith's How to Cook Pastry is available now from all good book stores.