The cheese pies we make in Guyana is a riff of the Portuguese Egg Tart, pastel de nata. And, in essence, it is like a mini quiche, drawing influence from the British proclivity for custards baked in pastry. I suspect that what we did in Guyana, as is done throughout the world with food that has traveled, is that we adapted the tart and married it with our penchant for English pies and came up with a Guyanese cheese pie.
The pie is simple, it is a mini pie with short crust pastry filled with an egg and cheese custard and baked. That's it. Use only the finest quality ingredients, especially because they are so few in this recipe.
You can find cheese pies at many snackettes and other eateries in Guyana that sell pastries.
Guyanese Cheese Pies
Yield: 13 - 15
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 ounces cold vegetable shortening, cubed
6 ounces cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 to 4 tablespoons iced water
Add flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add shortening and butter to flour and pulse until the mixture is coarse with pebbles of butter and shortening. Alternately, cut in the butter and shortening to the flour using a pastry blender or two dining knives or use your hands.
Add water and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Do not over mix.
Transfer the mixture to a floured surface and bring the dough together in one mass. Pat into a round disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
When you are ready to make the pie, remove the dough from the refrigerator and rest for 5 minutes before starting to work with it. This time will vary depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
2 cups grated (sharp) cheddar cheese (get the best you can)
3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add eggs, milk, salt and pepper to a measuring cup (for easy pouring) and whisk together.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly brush muffin pans with oil and set aside.
Flour work surface and roll dough into 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter or anything with a round 4-inch diameter and cut into as many circles as you can.
Arrange each piece of cut pastry into muffin pan. Gather the scraps of the pastry and roll and cut again until the pans are filled. Refrigerate the pans for 10 minutes or until you are ready to add the filling.
Remove the chilled pans and fill each muffin cup with cheese.
Whisk the egg mixture as it might have settled and then pour in a little of the custard into each muffin cup, just shy of the top of the pastry.
Bake pies for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Cool pans on wire racks for 5 to 6 minutes then remove pies from pans and continue to cool on wire racks.
Serve warm or at room temperature - as is or with a salad.Related post: A Quick Bread