Introduction: Dia De Los Muertos Skull Savoury Pie

Every Halloween, the shops around here fill with pumpkins, both edible and non-edible. To add to this, my boyfriend likes to grow pumpkins and this year we ended up with a haul of 65 small-to-medium ones. What to do with all these pumpkins? Halloween pie! 

This is a savoury pie recipe perfect for dinnertime, and a few simple tweaks to the pie dish with the help of tin foil is all that's needed to produce this effective skull shape!

More recipes (mostly sweet!) on my blog -

Step 1: Ingredients and Stuff Required

You can, of course, use your own preferred pastry and filling, either homemade or bought, but here's what I did:

Lydia's Dia de los Muertos savoury pie, feeds 3-4, for more add a hearty side of veg!
For the pastry: 
225g (8oz) plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
50g (2oz) unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for construction
50g (2oz) lard or veg shortening (or just make the whole 100g up with butter)
2 eggs
splash of water - I used about 2tbsp

For the filling: - adjust this to your liking!
1 medium brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5cm discs
13 mushrooms (I used white button mushrooms), cut into quarters
half a small pumpkin, chopped to 1.5cm chunks
2 large sprigs of rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp gravy granules
salt and pepper to taste
splash of worcester sauce
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Chopping knife and board
Wooden spoon / stirrer
Pastry brush (or your fingers!)
Tin foil
Food wrap / Food bag
Baking paper
Rolling pin
Pie dish about 7.5 - 9 inches in diameter
Large frying pan / cooking pot with lid

About 2 hours.

Step 2: Preparing the Pastry

To make the pastry, rub the fats into the flour (either with your fingertips or by cutting through the mixture with a knife) until you get a bread-crumb like texture. To this add 1 lightly beaten egg (leave the other egg for an egg wash later) and add the water a bit at a time, while stirring / working with your fingers, until a dough is formed. You won't need very much water - about 2 tbsp was all I needed.

Cut off one third of the dough and flatten both dough balls into discs. Wrap in food wrap / place inside two food bags and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, start preparing the filling. 

Step 3: Preparing the Filling

Heat the oil in your pan and throw in half of the fresh rosemary (chopped, stalk removed), and your herbs.

Add onions and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring.

Next, add the tomato puree, then the garlic, followed by the rest of the veg. Stir well and cook, covered, on a high heat for 5 minutes.

Boil about 250ml water and add to the pan - only enough to reach halfway up the veg in the pot. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the gravy granules, worcester sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Stir well, pushing the veg down into the water, place the remaining rosemary sprig on top and continue to cook, covered.

After about 7-10 minutes remove the rosemary and continue to cook covered until the carrots and pumpkin are almost done - about 10 more minutes. Give it a taste and adjust the herbs as necessary. Finally, uncover and cook on low to medium to allow the filling to reduce (liquid to evaporate a fair bit). 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4).

Step 4: Make the Skull

Shape two pieces of foil (each about 50cm long) to form the cheek indentations (see photo) and fix in place on the pie dish with a piece of butter.

Roll out the large disc of pastry on a floured surface, to fit the diameter and depth of the pie dish.

Lift the pastry onto the rolling pin and gently place into the pie dish, easing it into the nooks and crannies with your knuckles. Put the dish back in the fridge.

Roll out the large disc of pastry on a floured surface, to fit the diameter of the pie dish.

Cut out eyes (in the shape of aviator style sunglasses) and the nasal cavity (upside-down thin heart).

Roll out the cut-outs of pastry into a long thin rectangle, and cut rectangles out for the teeth. Make about 20 that are almost square and 4 that are slightly thinner, for canines.

Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush onto the pastry lid in a smile shape, and arrange your pastry teeth onto it.

Transfer your pastry onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until needed.

Step 5: Pie! Assemble!

Once your filling is ready, there'll be very little liquid left. This took about 45 minutes from the moment the oil was heated right at the start.

You can either leave the filling to cool to room temperature, which will prevent the filling from melting your pastry and result in a slightly better structure, or you can work quickly!
Ready? GO!

Place the filling in the base and distribute evenly.
Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg.
Place the skull-shaped top, erm... on top, and seal the edges (push the pastry top and bottom together) using your fingers.
Trim the excess from the edges.
Brush the top with beaten egg - be careful around the teeth as vigorous brushing may dislodge them!

Bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until nicely golden.

Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from base with a slotted spoon and digging in!

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Halloween Food Contest

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Halloween Food Contest