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How to make double cheese and potato deep-dish pie - it is easier than it looks, and just as delicious

Potatoes cooked with cream and cheese can take many forms, ranging from simple gratins to the super-rich aligot, mashed potato containing so much cheese that it can be stretched. This recipe is for an unusual potato pie that has cheese in both the crust and the filling.

This dish looks impressive but it's actually easy to make " even the pastry recipe is straightforward. I used a springform pan that is 20cm in diameter and about 6cm deep so each slice is a hearty helping. I will admit, though, that it is not the easiest thing to slice because the filling starts to ooze out, especially if it is cut straight out of the oven. Let it cool for about 30 minutes before slicing into wedges.

1 Make the dough at least two hours before you want to bake the tart. Put the flour, sugar and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and mix thoroughly. Cut the butter into 1cm chunks, put them in the food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.

Add the grated cheeses and pulse briefly, then put the ingredients in a large bowl. (If you don't have a food processor, put the flour, sugar and pepper in a large bowl and mix the ingredients with your hand. Cut the cold butter into 1cm chunks, add them to the bowl and toss to coat the pieces with the flour mixture. Use your fingertips to pinch the butter into pieces the size of small peas [this takes some time]. Mix in the cheeses, then place the mixing bowl in the freezer for about 30 minutes, so the butter has time to firm up again. Proceed with the recipe as follows.)

Drizzle the iced water over the ingredients in the bowl and mix quickly and gently to form a cohesive dough that is neither sticky nor dry. Knead briefly then flatten the dough into a disc, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours.

2 While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare the filling. Scrub the potatoes, then slice them (skin-on) 3mm thick. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the potatoes. Cook for several minutes, or until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Drain them and let them cool.

3 Put the cream in a medium-sized saucepan. Slice the garlic and add it to the cream along with about one teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about three minutes. Turn off the heat then stir in a little grated nutmeg and a larger quantity of freshly ground black pepper. Mix in a little more salt, if you like. Cool to room temperature.

4 Roll out the dough. If the dough is too firm, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or until it is pliable but still cool. Lay the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle flour on the dough, then roll it out so it is 3mm thick and about 35cm in diameter.

Gently fit the dough into the contours of a 20cm springform pan, taking care not to stretch the dough. Press the dough against the sides of the pan then trim off the over­hang at the edges. Gather up the dough trimmings and press them together. Refriger­ate the pastry-lined springform pan and the dough trimmings for at least 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Layer the potatoes in the pastry shell.

5 Blind-bake the crust. Use the tines of a fork to press holes in the base of the crust at 1cm intervals. Cut a square sheet of aluminium foil and lay it over the pastry, fitting it into the contours. Pour uncooked rice or beans over the foil, all the way to the top of the pan " this will weigh down the dough so it doesn't puff up.

Put the pan in the oven and bake at 220 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully lift out the foil with the rice or beans. Put the pan back in the oven to bake for five more minutes, then set it on the kitchen counter to cool. Leave the oven on.

6 Mix together the two cheeses in a bowl. Spread one-third of the boiled potatoes into the baked and cooled crust, shaking the pan so the potatoes settle into an even layer. Scatter one-third of the cheese over the potatoes, then repeat the layering, using half the remaining potatoes and half the remaining cheese.

For the top layer, place the potatoes in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge and working your way in. Spread the last of the cheese on top. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the garlic slices from the cream. Slowly pour the cream over the potatoes and cheese " don't pour quickly or it will overflow. It will take some time for the cream to fill all the gaps in the pan. There might be a little cream left over.

Slowly pour the cream over the pie.

7 Roll out the leftover scraps of dough to 3mm in thickness, then use a cutter of your choice to cut out shapes. Lay the dough pieces over the cheese layer. Put the pie in the oven with a tray underneath (to catch the drips).

Bake at 220 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the heat to 200 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. If the surface gets too dark, lay a sheet of aluminium foil over the pie. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. Release the sides of the spring­form pan, but don't try to take the pie off the base. Cut it into wedges to serve.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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