Sweet Potato, Maple Syrup and Cumin Vegetarian Pie

cumin6This pie is far from meagre just because it is made with vegetables alone (and a sprinkling of cheese), it packs substantial punch as a weekend dinner. The pastry is flavoured with cumin, my new favourite spice following the purchase of a Carrot and Cumin chutney and the Good Food Show last month. The sweet potato is roasted in maple syrup which gives the pie a deep, caramel flavour…. I suspect Canadians would like it. Although my boyfriend couldn’t eat his typical huge portion because he’d bought takeaway on the way home, he gave the pie a 10/10 (which he doesn’t give me often). Needless to say he is still in my bad books. Problems of being a domesticated adult.
Ingredients
Pastry
400g plain flour
200g unsalted butter
1 and a 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 egg
75ml FULL-FAT milk
Filling
~100ml maple syrup
3 small sweet potatoes
2/3 of an aubergine
2 red onions
1/2 an orange pepper, 1/2 a yellow pepper (colours are not set in stone)
2 handfuls of spinach leaves
~150g goats cheese
~100g panko breadcrumbs
a splash of milk
a splash of olive oil
salt, pepper, cumin and parsley

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1. This is the first time I have ever baked a pie in a loaf tin, and therefore I was a little anxious about how easy it would be to take the pie out of the tin in one piece. I would recommend greasing the tin with butter, then lining the bottom and the two longest sides with baking parchment. Leave some parchment poking over the edges so you can lift your pie out in a sort of pie hammock. Dust the two shorter sides with a little flour too, this helps prevent sticking.
2. To make the pastry first cut 200g of chilled butter into small cubes. Add this to the flour and rub the two together between your finger tips until no lumps of butter remain and the mixture resembles bread crumbs. This may take a while by hand, but you can also do it in a food processor if you are lucky enough to have one. Next add the cumin seeds and roughly stir through, so evenly distributed.
3. Beat an egg lightly in a separate bowl and add the milk. I suggest keeping the milk on hand in case you need a splash more so you don’t end up covering the fridge handle in flour a few minutes later as I always do. Add this to the dry ingredients bit by bit, mixing gently with one hand until it starts to come together. You don’t want to add too much liquid, but there should be no flour at the bottom of the bowl when you have added enough. Press the mix together to encourage it to form a ball. Then leave it to chill for roughly 30 mins.
4. During this time you can start to prep the filling. Preheat the oven to 180•.  Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into chunks. In hindsight, slices may have been a better move for a neat layer effect, so you can do that if you want. Place them in a roasting tray then cover with a healthy amount of maple syrup and a sprinkling of salt and cumin seeds. Roast for approximately 30 minutes.
5. Peel and chop the red onions into chunks. Slice the aubergine and cut 1/2 of a yellow and 1/2 of a red pepper into little pieces. Roast these in a little oil, seasoned with salt, black pepper and parsley for approximately 20 minutes until they have softened. Keep an eye on the aubergine.

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6. Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut off about 2/3 of it- this will form the case. Measure the length and width of your tin so you have some guidance on the size then roll out the pastry until it looks large enough to cover the base and sides of the tin. It should be about 3mm thick. Gently pick it up with the rolling pin and lower it into the tin, on top of your baking parchment hammock. Lower it into the corners and gently push it into the sides, I usually use a little bit of excess pastry to do my prodding so it makes it difficult to rip the pastry. If you do tear the pastry at any point just patch it up. Trim the edges with a serrated knife, poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork, then leave it the lined tin to chill in the fridge for another 20 minutes or so. Remember to keep an eye on your veggies in the oven.
7. To make the lattice lid, roll out the remaining 1/3 of pastry to the correct length of the tin. In my case this was 22cm but double check yours. Baking is the only time I ever use the tape measure my dad insisted on giving me when I moved to this flat, I think he thought I was suddenly going to develop a love for DIY. Using a pizza cut, slice 3 strips of pastry about 2-3 cm thick and lay these on a sheet of baking parchment. Next, roll out the remaining pastry so it is the width of the tin (16 cm in my case). Slice this into 4 strips 2-3 cm thick. Make a lattice on the baking parchment, weaving the shorter pieces in and out of the longer to give a basket effect.
cumin38. Leave the oven on so your pie can go in, again at 180•C. Sprinkle half the panko breadcrumbs in the bottom of the pastry case. This thin layer helps absorb moisture. Next layer the spinach, followed by half the sweet potato and  then a crumbling of goats cheese, and then some aubergine, some peppers and some onion. Then repeat the layers of vegetables again. You may not need to use all that you have prepared, be careful to only fill the tin to the top. Finish with a generous sprinkling of crumbled goats cheese and the rest of the panko breadcrumbs.
cumin49. Next comes the scary part. Take the baking parchment on which your lattice is made so you have the flat of your more capable hand underneath it. Line it up with the edge of your pie then quickly flip it onto the top. This is very nerve wracking so just do it and get it over with. If you bugger it up, you can probably fix it or might have some leftover pastry to try again.
10. Brush the lid with a splash of milk, which gives the pastry a nice colour. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes-ish.

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