January 27, 2024


In a moment of  madness I proposed that we should host a Burns Supper.  
The missing ingredient was the haggis.  

Haggis is not to everyone’s taste but I have enjoyed it in the past.  It’s now one of the items we are no longer permitted to bring into France post Brexit.  All meat and dairy products are banned so those expats who used to buy a couple of haggis during their Christmas UK visit to bring back to France for their Burns Suppers have to either smuggle them in their luggage or get creative.  In a moment of pure insanity I proposed that I should make Scotch pies.  How hard can they be?!

There is a recipe on the BBC Good Food website by Paul Hollywood which comes from his TV series "Pies and Puds". You can see the recipe here. It includes a video of how to construct the pies but I can’t view it from outside of the UK! ** Luckily I also have a copy of the book from the TV series, a charity shop find, and there’s a couple of pages of helpful photos.

To say they are fiddly is a gross understatement!

I practised two days before the event using some leftover roast pork from our Sunday lunch, scaling down the ingredients to make just two of them.  I had never made hot water crust pastry before and the two pies took me about an hour to make, plus baking time.  BUT they looked the part and were delicious! I was very proud of them.  However, it dawned on me that at the rate of production it could literally take me all day to make the six I needed for the evening’s festivities and there was also the tatties, neeps, cock-a-leekie soup and cranachan to make!

I decided that the way to go was to cook the lamb the day before and mince it for the filling "shepherd’s pie" fashion.  No risk of serving undercooked meat to our guests.  I also decided I would make them in the morning and reheat for dinner.  No risk of me still being up to my elbows in flour and pastry when the guests arrived!

I set to early, deciding to make the pies one by one as I thought that would be easier than rolling out such a huge amount of pastry.  The website instructions are for four pies and the book for eight so I split the difference and portioned out the pastry for individual pies.

*Moulding the pastry around the filling is immensely fiddly.  I found that for me the quickest way to get them made was to put a ball of filling in the middle of a circle of pastry, pat it down a bit, brush the edge with water and then place a circle of pastry for the lid straight on top.  I then brought the bottom pastry up to meet the lid at four points, north, east, south and west, pinching it together to secure it.  I then gathered up the rest of the pastry, pleating to fit, and pinched the edges together.  This got my production time down to less than ten minutes per pie from rolling out to stringing up!

They were not the prettiest pies you have ever seen but they were really tasty and went down well with our guests.  I have given the quantity of ingredients for six pies and my own adaptions to the recipe but suggest you look it up and work out your own best method!  I have given it three stars in the faff factor but in reality they were about three and a half - incredibly fiddly but very definitely worth it!

Next time I think I would try to make them a bit smaller!


For the filling

900g cooked lamb

A pinch of mace

1 onion, cooked.  Mine had been roasted under the joint of lamb

For the pastry

540g Plain flour

180g Lard or other white cooking fat.  I used Trex.

240ml Water

A pinch of salt 

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash


Begin by choosing a small plate of about 18cm diameter and a saucer or jar of about 10cm diameter.  These will be used as templates to cut the circles of pastry.  Cut six strips of baking paper about 30cm long and 10cm deep, folded over lengthways.  These will be used to encase the pies so they keep their shape while baking. Also cut six pieces of string long enough to tie around the pies.

Mince the lamb coarsely in a food processor.  Add the onion and mace and process for a few seconds until blended in.

Tip the lamb onto a board and mould into a ball.  Divide into six even portions and roll each one into a smaller ball.  Place on a tray or dish and chill in the fridge while you make the pastry.

Put the flour into a large bowl.  Put the fat, salt and water into a saucepan on medium heat and bring to the boil.  Pour this liquid onto the flour and mix in with a spoon.  (The flour will fizz briefly as you add the liquid.) 

When the pastry starts to come together and is cool enough to handle tip it onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.  (This took longer than I expected.)

Mould the pastry into a patty and cut into quarters, setting one aside for the lids.  Divide each of the three remaining quarters into two giving you six equal portions of pastry.  Divide the first quarter into six equal smaller portions.

On a floured surface roll a portion of pastry into a circle of about 18cm using your plate to cut it out.  Roll one of the lid portions using your jar or saucer template.

Place a ball of meat on the large pastry and flatten slightly. Moisten the edges of the pastry with water and with your hands bring the sides up around the meat.  Place a lid on top and pinch them together.  (*See text for how I found the best way of doing this.)

Wrap a strip of paper around the pie and secure with string.  Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Repeat with the remaining pies.

Make a hole in the top of each pie and brush with the beaten egg.  Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6 until golden brown.  Serve hot.

Makes 6 pies.

** I have since been able to watch the video on a different device and it's for a single large pie, so nothing like PH's recipe and instructions!  However, if I ever want to make a large pork pie, I'll definitely give it a try!


  1. These look truly splendid! I made HW pastry once, and it turned out OK, but have not done it again. Maybe I shall have a try.

  2. Pies look delicious! Well done for persevering.

  3. They looked great and tasted great!