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Dauphinoise Potato, Cheese and Onion Pie

Introduction & method

I recently had this pie at Calum Franklin's London restaurant, The Pie Room. It's a rich and wonderful chunk of potato dauphinoise surrounded by cheese and beautifully tasty and shiny pastry. This is my slightly different version - it's a lot of work to make a pie, but absolutely worth it.

Dauphinoise Potato, Cheese and Onion Pie Recipe

Make the Dauphinoise Potatoes

Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them about 3-4 mm thick (just over an eighth of an inch). A mandoline or the slicing attachment of a food processor will make short work of this. Or, of course, you could do it manually with a sharp knife. In a large frying pan, warm the milk/cream, crushed garlic, herbs and salt, add the potato slices and bring the temperature up to a gentle simmer. Make sure the potato slices are not sticking together. Cook for about 5 minutes then drain them and set aside. Keep the cooking liquid.

Caramelize the Onions

Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Clean out the frying pan and melt the butter into it. Cook the onions on low heat, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to burn the onions - they should be a light golden colour. This is not true caramelization - to do that you'd need to keep cooking them for about 45 minutes. You can do that if you have time but I'm not convinced it makes much of a difference.

Assemble the Dauphinoise

Heat your oven to 180°C (356°F) for a fan/convection oven, 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 6. Butter the inside of a loaf tin. Spread 2 layers of potato in the bottom. Don't press them down, you need space in between for the cooking liquid. Spread some of the onion over the potatoes, then add a couple more layers. Pour about one third of the cooking liquid in, then continue with more onion and more potatoes. Your final layers need to be potato, not onion. Pour another third of the cooking liquid all over. Cover the tin with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil to prevent the top of the dauphinoise from browning. Put it in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, then turn the oven down to 170°C (338°F) for a fan/convection oven, 190°C (374°F) conventional, gas 5 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Check that the potatoes are nice and soft by sticking a skewer in. If there's no resistance, they're done, otherwise cook a bit longer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then stick it in the fridge to cool down more.

Make Shortcrust Pastry

Mix the water and egg together and put them in the freezer to keep cold. In the bowl of a stand mixer, food processor or just an ordinary bowl, mix together the salt and flour. Cut the cold butter into small dice, about 1cm (half an inch) and pulse it into the flour. Try not to overdo it, you want a fairly coarse crumb. If doing it by hand, rub the butter in with your fingertips. Then mix in the egg and water until the dough comes together as a ball. Wrap it in plastic film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

Assemble the Pies

You could make this pie in a regular pie dish but I want this to look spectacular so I'm doing it freestanding. Get yourself some small dome-shaped bowls. They don't need to be ovenproof. Mine were 12cm (4¾ inches) diameter and 6cm (2½ inches tall), and that was enough to make 3 pies. Take about one third of the dough. On a lightly-floured worktop, roll out the dough to about 3-4 mm. Use an upturned bowl as a guide to cut out 3 discs of pastry. These will be your lids - wrap them in film and put them in the fridge until needed. Roll out some more pastry into a disc that's big enough to press into a bowl and come up over the rim. Butter the inside of the bowls and sprinkle plenty of flour on the side of the pastry that will be in contact with the bowl. Press the pastry in and trim off the excess around the edge. When you have your 3 shells ready, put them on a plate, put that in a large plastic bage and put it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
By this time your dauphinoise should be cool enough to use. Take the pastry shells from the fridge. Place a slice of cheese (or a good sprinkling of grated cheese) in the bottom, then a good slab of dauphinoise. You want it to entirely fill the shell up to about 1cm (half an inch) from the top. Moisten the inside of the rim with water. Generously sprinkle cheese on top of the potato, then place a lid on top. Squeeze the edge of this up to the case and fold the seam over, away from the bowl. Put the pies back in the fridge for half an hour.

Decorate and Bake the Pies

Heat your oven to 180°C (356°F) for a fan/convection oven, 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 6. Make up the eggwash by whisking the egg yolks, double (heavy) cream and salt together. Work on one pie at a time, keep the others in the fridge while you're decorating. Remove a pie from its dish. If you have a turntable, place your pie on that. Decorate the pie in any way you like. For mine I made a hole in the top, off centre. Around that I stuck a 'chimney' made from pastry wrapped around a round pencil. I scored lines radiating out from the chimney down to the bottom edge of the pie. Around the bottom edge I stuck a kind of 'rope' made from 3 strands of pastry rolled into very fine pastry sausages twizzled together. I also made a few little pastry balls and stuck those on. Once you've done all the decorating, coat the pie in a thin layer of the egg-wash. Use a pastry brush to paint it on.
Put the pies on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 35-40 minutes until a deep golden brown. Serve on a bed of creamed spinach.


Ingredients & Info

 250 grams plain white (all-purpose) flour
 125 grams unsalted butter
 1 egg
 1 tsp salt
 2 tbsp ice cold water
 500 grams potato
 250 ml semi-skimmed milk
 250 ml double (heavy) cream
 100 grams cheese
 2 cloves garlic
 1 tsp dried rosemary
 1 tsp dried thyme
 1 tsp salt
 2 egg yolks
 a splash of double cream
 a tiny pinch of salt


Use your favourite strong cheese or a mixture of cheeses. I used some sliced emmental and some grated mature cheddar.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 3 individual pies
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Cooling/resting time: 2 hours.
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes.
Total time: 3 hours 40 minutes.