“But if Hamish mac Callum still lives…” Jamie had not taken his hand from Roger’s shoulder, and at this it squeezed tight. “That’s news to gladden the heart, no?” He smiled at Roger, with such obvious joy that Roger felt an unexpected grin break out on his own face in answer.
“Aye,” he said, the weight on his heart lightening. “Aye, it is!” The fact that he would not know Hamish mac Callum MacKenzie from a hole in the ground was unimportant; the man was indeed kin to him – blood kin – and that was a glad thought.
“Where have they gone, then? Jamie demanded, dropping his hand. “Hamish and his followers?”
To Acadia – to Canada, the Bugs agreed. To Nova Scotia? To Maine? No – to an island, they decided, after a convoluted conference. Or was it perhaps-
Jemmy interrupted the proceedings with a yowl indicating imminent starvation, and Mrs. Bug started as though poked with a stick.”
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 8 – The Factor)
It’s always time for pie! Whether you’ve recently discovered a long lost cousin or are gathering to celebrate the birth of your nation, there should always be a pie on the table.
I had intended to contribute a batch of Brianna’s Bridies (meat pies) to a Canada Day potluck BBQ we’ll be attending later today. I made a double batch of pastry, hoping to put a few extras in the freezer for an easy dinner down the road. When my double batch of meat was gone, I still had a full batch of dough left — sometimes funny things happen when you double or triple recipes — and I was putting it back in the fridge to deal with later when my eyes lit upon the blueberries.
Make these with any fruit! You may have to adjust the sugar, depending on the fruit you use. Taste your fruit before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Is it sweet or tart? If it’s sweet, cut back a bit on the amount of sugar I’ve listed here. If it’s tart, start with the amount in the recipe, then taste and adjust after the filling has been mixed together.
As a rule, the more local and in-season your fruit, the less sugar you’ll need. Fruit that travels a long way from where it’s grown is often picked green and ripened in transit. The natural sugars in a piece of well-traveled fruit will never develop the rich sweetness you get from a piece grown down the road and harvested at its peak.
That, along with decreasing your carbon footprint, is the best reason to buy local. (Here is where I admit that these berries are Californian, and therefore the opposite of local. Blueberries won’t be ready up here for another month, but I found these on sale, so I brought them home for an early treat. And while they were delicious, they just weren’t as sweet as the ones that will soon be ready from the blueberry farm less than a mile down the road from us.)
For the purposes of this recipe, I added a little sugar to the dough. The sugar wasn’t in my batch of leftover bridie dough — and you certainly don’t need to add it — but if you’re making the dough especially for fruit pies, the sugar adds a nice touch of sweetness and helps the pastry to brown a little more evenly than mine did.
Making these for the Fourth of July? Sprinkle the pastry with coarse red sugar, and you’ll have the perfect red, white and blue treats.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
A sweet, fruit-filled version of Scotland’s favourite handheld meat pie.
Yield (12) 4” Bridies)
- Blueberries – 3 Cups (750 ml)
- Lemon Zest, finely grated & juice – from 1 Lemon
- Sugar – ⅓ Cup (80 ml)
- Kosher Salt – ½ tsp (3 ml)
- 1 recipe Short Crust Pastry, chilled
- Egg – 1
- Turbinado or Raw Sugar – 1 Tble (15 ml) (to sprinkle on pastry before baking)
Mix the blueberries, lemon zest and juice, sugar and salt in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
Divide the pastry in half. On a lightly floured board, roll out the one of the pasty discs into a rough circle about 1/8-inch thick. Slide a pastry scraper under the dough periodically as you roll it out to prevent sticking. Cut (6) 4-inch circles from the dough, then roll each circle to lengthen into a slight oblong.
Pile 2 large spoonfuls of the blueberry filling onto the top half of each oblong, leaving a 1/2-inch border to seal. Wet the top edge of the pastry with water, and fold the bottom half over to make a pie. Press, then crimp the edges to seal well, and with a sharp knife make a slit or hole on the top of each pie to vent the steam. Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate while you repeat with the second pastry disc and remaining filling. Chill all of the filled pies for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator/freezer.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C), and move the oven racks to the middle positions.
Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon cold water. Brush the tops of the bridies with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, turning a rotating the pans halfway through. Cool on a wire rack.
- To crimp the pie shut, roll the edge of the dough under itself as you work left to right. I found this video gave the best angle of all the “how-to crimp a pasty” videos I watched. There’s no audio, but it’s clear what the cook is doing, even if it is a little trickier than her old hands make it look.
- Practice makes perfect. Your 4th or 5th batch of shortcrust will be infinitely better than your first couple of tries. Have faith.