Hand Raised Pie Showstopper Challenge

It was Pastry Week in the Great British Bake Off tent and the bakers were tasked with creating a savory hand raised pie, topped with glazed fruit.

Whilst I love all things pastry, I am particularly challenged at making them and this was no exception. However, the difficulty was not the usual issue of my hot hands melting the butter. This challenge required the use of a hot water crust, which is normally a favorite of mine for making savory pies. The challenge for me — and contestant Stacey Hart — was in building the sides and shape of the pie by hand (hence “hand raised”), and having it stay.

Luckily, although with much trial and rushing about to save the bake, I ended up with a golden pie that was tasty and had a nice bite to the crust. And no soggy bottom!

To hopefully save you from my troubles, I’ve put quite a bit in the tips section for how to create this chicken curry hand raised pie, topped with peaches soaked in a rosemary-infused glaze.

*Quick disclaimer, this is a very long recipe and a bit complicated to make. To make it easier on yourself, you may want to make the crust or the filling or both ahead of time so you are only baking the day you plan on serving.

If you make the crust ahead of time, wrap the shell and top securely in cling film after you’ve removed it from the mold. Place each piece of wrapped pastry in a separate airtight, ziplock bag and put in the fridge a day ahead.

Chicken Curry Hand Raised Pie Recipe

For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour, plus another 32 – 42g for dusting/kneading in (~1 2/3c + 1/4 c)
  • 40g strong flour aka bread flour (~1/3 c)
  • 50g butter (~3 1/2 tbs)
  • 130ml hot water (~4 1/4 oz)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60g lard (~4 3/4 tbs)
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash
  • parchment paper
  • kitchen twine

For the filling

  • 2 tbs of canola oil
  • 430g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed (~1 lb)
  • 1 ½ carrots, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • ¼ large red onion, minced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp each of ginger, cumin and smoky paprika
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 packets of chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 60 ml water (~2 oz)
  • ½ packet of unflavored gelatin (~1 ½ tsp)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the topping

  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 454g of sliced, dried peaches (~8 oz)
  • 100 ml water (3.5 oz)
  • 180g peach preserves (~1/2 cup, packed)


  • If the pastry starts to break apart as gravity pulls the sides down when placed on top of the mold, you need to knead in more flour to the pastry.
  • Make sure you have your parchment paper, twine, filling and pie top near your shell as you’ll need to work quickly after it’s been loosened from the mold.Hand raised pie shell, baking pan, kitchen twine and baking paper
  • Gently loosen the crust from the mold. Do not pull from the bottom but gently slide the crust down. You can peel back the cling film from the inside of the mold so that you can insert a pallet knife or thin paring knife between the cling and the mold to loosen.
  • If you leave the crust in the fridge for longer than 20 minutes and use the hot water method to release, take care not to warm the crust too much or it will start to sag. If that happens, reshape and put back in the fridge for another 10 minutes and try again using the first tip above.
  • Once the crust has been released from the mold, fill quickly so it doesn’t sag.
  • Fill the pie with COLD filling. Make sure that the filling is completely cooled before filling the pie or it will start to sag.
  • The parchment “belt” only needs to be around the pie for the first 40 minutes.
  • If you want to have this pie for dinner, make it in the morning so it has time to set.


  1. Finely mince the onion and garlic; dice the potatoes and carrots into ½ inch cubes; cube the chicken into 1-inch cubes; and juice half a lemon.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan on medium. Add the spices and mix together until fragrant.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 5 seconds.
  4. Add the chicken and sauté until coated with the spices and onion. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sauté to combine.
  5. Add in carrots and potatoes, a packet of chicken bouillon powder and water. Sauté to combine. Par-cook until chicken is opaque. Transfer to a wide dish — make sure to spread the filling out to cool as quickly as possible — and put in the fridge to cool.

  6. Heat the water for the pastry in a kettle until just before boiling/whistling.
  7. Wrap cling film around the outside of a 6 x 6 x 6 inch square mold (can also use a 6-inch cake pan or jar) and press extra film inside the mold. Set aside.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours then rub the butter in with your fingertips. Mixture should feel like coarse sand.
  9. Pour the hot water to a small saucepan and add salt and lard. Heat on medium until lard melts, stirring regularly.
  10. Pour lard-water mixture on top of the flour-butter mixture and stir with a spoon until combined.
  11. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of flour onto your worktop and tip the dough onto the floured surface. Knead together into a ball.
  12. Remove about a quarter of the pastry, wrap and cling film and set aside. Use a rolling pin (I used a fondant rolling pin) to roll out the pastry to be about a quarter of an inch thick. Turn mold upside down and cover with the pastry. Press the pastry to the sides to mold. Patch up any tears or holes, and try to make the sides as even as possible.
  13. Chill pie base in the fridge for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 deg. F/200 deg. C.
  14. Roll out the reserved quarter of pastry into a circle to match the size of the pie top. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge.
  15. Take the pastry case out of the fridge and carefully pour boiling water from a kettle into the mold to soften the pastry and release it. If it softens too much and starts to sag, reshape and chill again for 10 minutes or so. Gently push the pastry off the mold.
  16. Check to make sure filling is completely cool. Quickly fill the pie, leaving about an inch at the top. Stick in a couple of sprigs of rosemary. Trim as need so the tops don’t cut into the pie top.
  17. Place pie top on the filling and join with the remaining edges. Cut about a 1-inch hole in the center. Trim the top of the pie shell to make sure they are even.
  18. Fold a piece of parchment paper to it is about the same height as the pie. Wrap the paper around the crust and secure with twine. This ensures the pie’s shape stays during the bake. Cover the pie edges with foil to keep from burning. Place pie on a baking sheet.
  19. Bake for 40 minutes. In the meantime, beat an egg in a bowl to make an egg wash; set aside.

  20. Combine peach preserves and water in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Heat for one minute. Whisk with a fork to combine. Add in dried peaches and rosemary and let steep.

  21. Whilst dish is cooling, drain the preserves/water mixture into another heatproof bowl. (Cover peaches and rosemary with cling film and set aside.) Heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Liquid should be warm not hot. Add ½ a packet of chicken bouillon powder and whisk to combine. Add in the gelatin and mix to combine.
  22. Slowly pour gelatin mix into the hole on the pie top until the liquid can be seen from the opening. You may not need all the liquid. Chill in the fridge until gelatin is set, about a few hours.
  23. Decoratively arrange the peaches and rosemary on top of the pie before serving.

This dish is typically served cold but is also delicious warmed up. It holds up well when you slice it and then heat in the microwave.

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Author: Jorina Fontelera

I love eating carbs, feeding people and watching the Great British Bake Off (aka in the US, the Great British Baking Show). I'll be chronicling my attempts at all the challenges per GBBO season.

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