Ruby's Picnic Pie

Ruby's Picnic Pie

This realistic-looking woven pastry picnic basket contains a colourful vegetarian filling of roasted vegetables, two types of cheese and richly flavoured couscous.

For how many? Makes 1 large pie


  • For the filling:
  • 3 romano peppers, quartered and cored
  • 1 medium aubergine, thinly sliced
  • About 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large courgette, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 200g vegetarian halloumi
  • 100g couscous
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
  • Leaves from a small bunch each of fresh oregano and basil, chopped
  • 100g vegetarian mozzarella, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the pastry:
  • 600g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 300g unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, diced
  • About 150ml icy cold water
  • 3 tablespoons cold milk, for brushing
  • Beaten egg, to glaze
  • To finish:
  • 100g caster sugar



1 Heat your oven to 230°C/450°F/gas 8. Roast the vegetables for the filling in batches: put the red peppers into an oiled roasting tin and the aubergine slices into another lightly oiled roasting tin. Drizzle with a little more oil, then place both tins in the heated oven. Roast the peppers for 20–25 minutes until browned and blistered. Roast the aubergine for 25–30 minutes until golden (turn the slices over halfway through the cooking time so they colour evenly). Transfer each vegetable to a plate and leave to cool, then peel the peppers. Set aside until needed.

2 Roast the courgette in the same way as the aubergine; transfer to a plate and leave to cool.

3 Mix the onion slices with the garlic in an oiled roasting tin and sprinkle with a little more olive oil. Roast for 12–15 minutes until just starting to colour. Transfer to a plate and cool.

4 Cut the halloumi into slices about 3mm thick. Lay them in a non-stick frying pan set over medium heat and fry for about 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.

5 Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Stir in the boiling water, then leave for 5 minutes to swell and soften. Spoon half of the couscous into a food processor, add the tomatopaste and process briefly until combined. Tip the mixture back into the bowl of couscous and add the chopped herbs. Mix gently together. Taste and add seasoning as needed, then leave to cool.

6 Tip the mozzarella on to a plate and break up any clumps with your fingers. Set aside until needed.

7 To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and rub in until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in enough of coldwater to make a firm but not stiff dough. Divide the dough: cut off 350g for the lattice for the tin; 350g for the pastry case; and 200g for the lattice lid. The remainder will be used for the decorations. Lightly knead each portion until smooth, then shape into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 20 minutes until firm.

8 First make the lattice for the tin. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worktop to a large, fairly thin rectangle. Cut into strips 3cm wide (you need some strips 30cm long and others 40cm long). Lay these on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and chill briefly until firm. Now arrange the strips in the greased tin so they are plaited into a lattice: startwith the 30cm strips, running them across the width of the tin, then weave in the 40cm strips down the length of the tin base and sides so they are evenly covered. Leave any excess pastry hanging over the rim of the tin. Freeze for about 5 minutes until firm, then brush lightly with milk.

9 Roll out the pastry for the case to a rectangle about 30 x 40cm. Gently fit into the tin on top of the lattice to cover the base and sides. Press out any wrinkles and air bubbles, and make sure there are no gaps or holes. Return the tin to the freezer for a few minutes to firm up the pastry.

10 Roll out the pastry for the lattice lid fairly thinly. Cut into 5 strips 30cm long and 2cm wide, and 8 strips 13 x 2cm. Arrange the strips on a baking sheet lined with flour-dusted baking paper to make a woven lattice that will fit the top of the pie. Chill in the fridge until firm while you fill the pastry case.

11 Heat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 with a baking sheet inside. Now fill the pie, making sure each layer is spread evenly and compactly – press down gently so there are no gaps – and seasoning lightly as you go. Start with a third of the couscous, then half the peppers arranged lengthways. Scatter over all the mozzarella, then add half the onion mixture. Top with the aubergine slices and then the rest of the peppers followed by half the remaining couscous. Arrange the courgette slices on top of this, then add the rest of onions followed by the halloumi. The last layer is couscous.

12 Brush the pastry rim with beaten egg, then carefully slide the pastry lattice on top. Press the edges together to seal. Trim off the excess pastry (keep this for the decorations). Neatly roll the sealed rim inwards to make an attractive edge and score lightly. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg. Set the tin on the heated baking sheet and bake for 60–70 minutes until the pastry is a good golden brown.

13 While the pie is baking roll out the rest of the pastry fairly thickly – about 4mm – and cut into shapes for the decoration. You will need 2 handles each 20 x 2.5cm, 2 hinges each 6 x 2.5cm and 2 buckles each 3cm square (it’s worth making a few extra shapes in case of breakages). Use a cocktail stick to make the ‘stitch holes’ around the rim of the handles and buckles, and tiny strips to make the buckle decoration. Brush the shapes with beaten egg. Drape the handles and buckles over an upturned small cake or loaf tin (cover the tin with baking paper to prevent sticking), and set the hinges on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 12–15 minutes until the shapes are a good golden brown. Cool.

14 Remove the cooked pie from the oven and leave to cool and firm up for 20 minutes before carefully unmoulding on to a baking sheet. Brush the sides of the pie with beaten egg to glaze, then return it to the oven to bake for 4–5 minutes until golden and shiny. Remove and leave to cool.

15 To finish, make up the caramel to attach the decorations. Put the sugar into a small heavy pan with 1 tablespoon water. Heat gently until the sugar has completely melted, then bring to the boil and cook until the syrup turns a dark golden colour. Remove from the heat and set the pan on a heatproof surface. Dip each end of the pastry handles into the caramel, then stick on to the pastry ‘basket’. Repeat with the hinges and the buckles. If the caramel starts to stiffen before you’ve finished just gently reheat it. Leave the pie until it is completely cold before slicing. Wrap and store overnightin the fridge.

Made by Ruby Tandoh on the final of The Great British Bake Off series 4, 2013. This recipe and all others cooked in the final of series 4 are available as a digital download to complement the hardback book, The Great British Bake Off: Everyday: Over 100 Foolproof Bakes.

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