Cranks restaurant opened in London’s Carnaby Street in 1961, one of the first vegetarian restaurants in the UK, and is credited as a major factor in the spread of vegetarianism in recent decades. So I was thrilled when they got in touch recently to ask me to give a makeover to their signature dish, Homity Pie.
It is thought that the history of Homity Pie dates back to the Land Girls during World War 2. A simple dish of wholemeal pastry, potatoes, onions and cream, it would have made a filling family supper during the restrictions of rationing.
Here’s my updated version – I’ve given it a swiss twist, (try saying that in a hurry), with onions and garlic braised in white wine, rösti-style grated potato, and emmental and gruyère cheeses. The original homity wholemeal pastry works well here to offset the rich cheeses and cream, and creates a stable crust to hold up the deeply-filled pie on its own.
This Swiss-Style Homity Pie is delicious straight from the oven, but crumbly and hard to slice. If you are serving this hot, straight away, you might find that small individual pies will work better. However, when chilled in the fridge, the pie slices beautifully as pictured – the individual slices would be perfect for a picnic or re-heated thoroughly in the oven for lunch.
Swiss-style Homity Pie
- For the Pastry:
- 125 g wholemeal flour
- 125 g plain flour
- 150 g butter
- 1 egg
- For the Filling:
- 2 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
- 3 onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200 ml white wine
- 850 g potatoes
- 25 g butter
- 100 g gruyère cheese grated (check it is vegetarian)
- 75 g emmental cheese grated (check it is vegetarian)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 150 ml double cream
- Blitz the flours and butter in a food processor, (or alternatively rub in by hand in a large bowl), until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and combine into a crumbly dough. Flour your surface, and roll the pastry out into a large circle, around 30cm in diameter. Place into a deep 20cm tin (or 6 small individual tins if you prefer), patching up any holes or cracks with the offcuts. Place your pastry-lined tin in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
- Finely slice the onions, and peel and crush the garlic. Melt the oil in a large pan, add the onions and garlic and when they start to brown, turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes until translucent. Turn the heat back up again, add the white wine and let it bubble for 4-5 minutes until there is almost no liquid left at the bottom of the pan. Season well with salt and black pepper, remove the onions from the pan and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Peel the potatoes and grate in a food processor. (You can of course do this by hand, but it will take a while!). Place in a colander or large sieve, rinse under a tap then pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. Melt the butter in the pan you used for the onions, and add the grated potato. Fry gently for 10 minutes, moving around the pan regularly to stop the potato sticking together too much. Season well with salt. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Layer up the filling in your pastry case, starting with one third of the potato mixture, followed by half the onion mixture, then a third of the grated cheeses. Sprinkle with half the parsley, then start again with another third of the potato, the remaining onions, followed by another third of the cheeses, and the remaining parsley. Finish with the remaining potato, topped with the remaining cheese. Finally, pour the cream over the pie, you may need to tap the pie firmly on the surface to help the cream trickle through the layers.
- Place your pie on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until deeply golden.