Hot Water Pastry


Makes enough for a large single pie or an unknown number of individual serving-sized pies

  • 1¼ lb flour (about 4½ cups)
  • 8 oz lard and/or butter
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon confectioners sugar to add some crispness
  • ¼ teaspoon mace or nutmeg

Special equipment

Something for a pie mold (see discussion below)


Melt the butter in the water on your stovetop and bring to a boil while you assemble the dry ingredients.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the liquid in one fell swoop, as Mrs Trotter would say. Quickly work it into a dough with a wooden spoon. Let it cool, covered, a little before rolling out and raising up over or lining your pie molds.


Recipe is closely modelled on Smith’s, but we have never been able to raise it over a pie mold as he demonstrates in his illustrations. After some hilarious collapses, we gave up trying.

Were we doing something wrong? Following his instructions too cautiously not to “over-knead this dough or it will become like elastic and your pastry will be tough” perhaps?? Turns out, different instructions for hot water pastry strongly contradict one another. Hartley argues for a vigorous kneading “You will understand that this is a serious proceeding.Some say to introduce liquids to the flour slowly; others say plop it in all at once. Some recommend cooling the dough for an hour before molding; others say to shape it as soon as the temperature of the dough is bearable. Were we to try this again as a self supporting pie, we’d abandon Smith and go for an old reliable, Grigson.

For a raised, that is, self-standing pie, it looks like we have two alternatives: individual serving pies of a diameter of 3 inches or so. These can be raised up around the traditional wooden molds, or, reputedly, up around warmed and floured jars, or within readily available aluminum molds (professional video instructions here). Sometimes these can be quite tall, like Smith’s illustrations and the height of antique molds suggest (like this 7"x3" monster). The short ones certainly could be served hot.

Alternatively, for a large single pie, we can raise the pie inside a mold. These can be anything from a tall 6-or-8 inch springform cake pan, to a disposable aluminum loaf pan, to expensive French pie molds for especially fancy pies. These are served cold and require extra jellied stock (poured in after the pie has finished cooking) to keep the filling intact.