Ploughman’s Pie

Now I have attempted this recipe before, but it didn’t go quite to plan. I’m pretty sure Nigel Slater didn’t have to phone his Mum half way through making it to find out why the pastry dough wouldn’t stick together! I am going to try it again, because I won’t be beaten by it!

Ploughman's Pie


250g/9oz plain flour

125g/4oz butter, cut into small dice, plus a bit more for cooking the apples

2 free-range egg yolks, plus an extra egg for brushing the pastry

4 tbsp mature farmhouse cheese, grated, plus a little more for on top

6 medium-sized dessert apples

a pinch of cinnamon

3 cloves

a little milk for brushing the pastry

plain yoghurt, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6.
  2. To prepare the pastry, put the flour into a mixing bowl, add the butter and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like bread crumbs.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with a fork and mix with the flour and butter, then bring the dough together to form a ball.
  4. Scatter the grated cheese over a large chopping board then put the dough on top. Knead the dough very lightly, pushing the grated cheese in as you go. Put into the fridge to rest, covered in cling film.
  5. To prepare the filling, cut the apples into quarters, remove and discard the cores, then cut the fruit into chunks. Put a generous slice of butter into a non-stick pan over a moderate heat, add the apples and leave to cook, with the occasional stir, until they are lightly coloured and starting to soften. Stir in the cinnamon.
  6. Roll the pastry out into a rough circle about 35cm/14in diameter, then transfer it to a baking sheet or roasting tin. Pile the apples in the centre of the pastry leaving a wide rim around the edge; tuck in the cloves. Pull the edges of the pastry in over the apples, leaving those in the centre quite visible.
  7. Mix the remaining beaten egg with a little milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, then scatter a little extra grated cheese.
  8. Bake for about 40 mins or until the pastry is golden. Serve warm, with yoghurt, if you wish.

Second time round was much simpler. You do need to add at least 3 tbsp of cold water to the dough when you get to section 3. Otherwise the mix is too dry and when you add the cheese you will never be able to roll the dough out. I also only used 5 apples and that was still even a bit too much. Other than that it was actually very easy, a bit messy, but very easy.

Once you get your head around the fact you are essentially eating a pudding for your dinner it’s really very yummy. I mean I like apples, I like cheese and I like pastry, so it all comes together quite nicely.  I served mine hot with salad and yoghurt and there’s definitely enough there to serve 4. I loved the cheesy pastry. My Mum was telling me she used to make cheese straws the same way, so there’s a solution to any leftover dough.

Recipe from Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers