Allyson Gofton - Loaves and Fish Pie

Publish Date
Friday, 27 March 2015, 11:57AM
By Allyson Gofton

Easter Celebration
A delightful little book “Capon on Cooking” by a rather unusual American Episcopal priest who contributed culinary advice in the New York Times and Newsday magazine, has this to say about Easter:

When it comes to celebrating Easter, household cooks have long known what the church has only rediscovered. The celebration cannot be confined to Sunday alone: it pervades even the somber events of the week before…Easter dinner, like the resurrection itself, had to be in the works long before the event. God might raise the dead, but his miracles stopped short of supplying meals on wheels for Sunday afternoon.

Rev Capon also points out: “Easter does have one advantage (over Christmas), however; its celebration focuses on only two things, Food and Faith. By contrast, when Christmas finally rolls around, you can hardly even see the tree for the woods of commerce and busyness.

Your faith, we leave to you, but the food side of Easter is important in many households.

Lamb was the traditional Easter meal, associated with the Jewish Passover, while the Easter egg symbolises the resurrection, although these days they have a distinct commercial flavour!

The origin of the Easter egg is thought to be based on the fertility lore of the Indo-European races and it became a symbol of Spring. Eggs were given as gifts to servants and to children.

As for the Easter bunny – it had nothing to do with Easter, really, merely having been seen as a symbol of the fertility of spring. Pork, too, is a traditional Easter meat in some places. There are also Easter breads and cakes in different countries, including the best known here – the hot cross bun, which started out with the Saxons who ate it in honour of the goddess Eostre. The Simnel cake was part of the feasting after Lent, decorated with marzipan.

Fish of course, is enjoyed on Good Friday, as Friday being the one day of the week when no red meat was to be eaten.

Chocolate Craisin Hot Cross Buns (pictured)
Try these delicious chocolate hot cross buns this year. They are sensational served warm topped with orange icing or plain and accompanied with raspberry jam and whipped cream!!

¾ cup craisins (dried cranberries)
2 tblsp cherry brandy or brandy
1½ cups slightly warm water
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tblsp honey
1 tblsp salt
75 grams softened butter
3½ cups flour
½ cup cocoa
5 tsp bread machine or Surebake yeast
½ cup chocolate chips

¼ cup flour
2 tblsp cocoa
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tblsp soft butter
About 6 tblsp milk

Sugar Glaze:
2 tblsp hot water
3 tblsp caster sugar


  1. Mix the craisins and brandy together and set aside.
  2. Into a bread machine, put the ingredients in the following order: water, sugar, honey, salt, butter, flour, cocoa, and yeast. Set the machine to dough.
  3. Once the dough is ready turn our on a floured board, deflate gently and sprinkle over the Craisins and chocolate chips. Knead in gently and then cover and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 12-16 even-sized pieces and shape into buns. Place on a greased baking tray about 2cm apart. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes until double in size.
  4. Make the mixture for the crosses by sifting together the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Rub in softened butter and add sufficient milk to make a smooth paste. Pipe on crosses.
  5. Bake at 190ºC for 20-25 minutes until the buns are well-risen and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Brush buns with the sugar glaze. Transfer to a cake rack to cool. Serve warm. These buns keep well for 2-3 days.

To make by hand:

  1. Mix together the yeast, ½ cup water and honey and set aside for about 3 minutes until the yeast dissolves and becomes slightly frothy. Sift the flour, cocoa, salt and sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast liquid, remaining water and butter and mix with one hand to form a sticky mass. Turn out on to a lightly floured board and just bring together. It will look untidy. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Push the dough out a little and add the craisins and chocolate chips, then fold the dough up like a three-folded business letter and begin to knead. The dough will look almost as if it is about to separate into sections. Don't worry - just keep kneading until you have a smooth supple dough. Dust the board with flour only when needed. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and stand aside until double in bulk. Turn out and shape into buns, then proceed as above.

Smoked Fish Pie
As we drove up to meet Helen and Les, we found our host busy smoking kahawai for our pie. Simply seasoned with salt, brown sugar and honey, the kahawai were left until the sugar melted, then smoked in Les's smoker until the deep golden colour, but still moist on the inside. The fish was delicious on its own, served warm with buttered bread; however, Helen loves a pie and this is her family recipe, which is fabulous. Any smoked fish can be used.

Preparation time:
20 minutes
Cooking time:
25 minutes

1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry, defrosted
50 grams butter
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon flour
37 gram packet seafood soup mix
2 cups milk
1 smoked kahawai
4 frozen hash browns, slightly defrosted
½ cup grated Cheddar-style cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease a 5-6 cup capacity ovenproof dish.
  2. Cut the puff pastry sheet to line the base and come about ¼-1/3 of the way up the sides of the dish. Refrigerate while preparing the fish.
  3. Melt half the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and cook over a low heat until the onion has softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Mix together the soup mix and milk. Pour gradually into the roux (flour and butter mix) and cook, stirring over a low heat until the mixture becomes very thick. Remove from the heat.
  5. Pull the smoked fish from the bones in chunky pieces and fold into the sauce. Transfer to the pastry-lined dish. Pulse the hash browns in a food processor until they become crumb-like and scatter over the fish filling. Grate over the remaining butter and scatter over the cheese.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until piping hot and golden. Serve with seasonal vegetables.

Cooks Tips:

  • Top with mashed potatoes or kumara instead of crumbled hash browns. To feed 4-5 people, boil around 750 grams - 1 kilogram floury potatoes until tender, then mash with butter and milk.

Smoked Fish And Kumara Pie
Wendy's famed smoked fish pie recipe is devoured by family and friends when she serves it up, reinforcing how many of us really do enjoy simple but great-tasting dishes.

Preparation time:
15 minutes
Cooking time:
40-45 minutes

2 sheets frozen ready-rolled flaky pastry, defrosted

Mashed kumara:
4 medium kumara, peeled and chopped
25 grams butter
½ cup cream or milk

50 grams butter
2½ tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1½-2 cups milk
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
½ cup grated Cheddar style cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
400-500 grams smoked fish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease the base and sides of a 25cm round pie dish.
  2. Use the pastry sheets to line the base and sides of the prepared pie dish and refrigerate while preparing the kumara.
  3. Cook the kumara in boiling water until tender. Drain well and mash with the butter and cream or milk until very smooth. While the kumara is cooking, prepare the filling.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and mustard and cook for about 1 minute, until the mixture is bubbling. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to the heat and stir continuously until the sauce thickens. Add the spring onions, cheese, parsley and lemon pepper seasoning. Set aside.
  5. Flake the fish, discarding bones and skin. Place the fish in the prepared pastry-lined pie dish. Spread the sauce over the fish and top with the mashed kumara. If wished, sprinkle over a little extra cheese.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until piping hot and golden.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you