When researching traditional Scottish foods, we kept stumbling across the Bridies, or more specifically, the Forfar Bridie. It’s such a traditional food that it’s even being considered for protected status, like Scotch Beef, Stornoway Black Pudding, and Arbroath Smokies.
What is a Forfar Bridie?
A Forfar Bridie is a simple hand-held Scottish meat pie made in a horseshoe shape. It usually contains minced beef, and sometimes onion, and a few various seasonings.
Forfar Bridies are named after the town of Forfar, in Angus, where it’s said a baker called Mr Jolly invented them around the late 19th century in Back Wynd, which is now known as Queen Street (story as told in The Scots Kitchen).
How they came to be called “Bridies” is less known, but it’s possibly because they were common on wedding menus and said to be lucky for brides! Another tale is that they’re named after Maggie Bridie from Glamis, she was said to make Bridies to sell at local fairs in the late 1800s. We hope Mr Jolly didn’t steal Maggie’s recipe!
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Traditionally Bridies are made with shortcrust pastry and filled with suet, minced beef, and onions. Now they’re more often made with flaky puff pastry and butter or margarine in place of suet.
As with many of our traditional recipes, we started off by doing things the traditional way, and then made a few adjustments, and have offered extra variations should you wish to try them.
Since it’s so easy to buy ready-made pastry now, we decided to test it both ways! Personally, we like the flaky puff pastry best, but the shortcrust pastry is delicious too and is a little sturdier to eat on the go. We also replace the suet with butter, but you can use either.
See if you can spot which are the shortcrust and which are the puff pastry!
What’s the difference between a Bridie and a Cornish Pasty?
Cornish pasties traditionally contain potato and swede as well as meat and onion, and the edges are sealed in a particular crimped way.
By comparison, a Bridie only contains meat and sometimes onion, with a few seasonings, and is sealed in many different ways.
Both are delicious and have taken on a new lease in life as modern cooks and bakers experiment with many different fillings, especially in Pasties. Yum!
Things you’ll need to make Scottish Bridies
- Large bowl
- Chopping board
- Baking sheet
- Butter brush
Ingredients for Scottish Bridies
This recipe will make 4 large Bridies.
- 500g Lean Beef Mince (approx 1lb)
- 1 Medium Onion – finely chopped
- 40g Butter (approx 1.5oz)
- 1 Beaten egg
- Salt and Black Pepper to season
- 1 tsp Mustard Powder
- 3 tbsp Beef Stock
- 2 pre-rolled pastry (shortcrust or puff) – The ones we used came as 2 sheets totalling 375 g per pack.
How to make Bridies – Step by step method
Firstly, preheat your oven to 180°C or 356°F. Add your baking tray and parchment to the oven while it heats to make sure it’s nice and hot for when your Bridies are ready to bake. This will help you avoid the dreaded soggy bottom, more on that later.
Take your mixing bowl and add the mince, chopped onion, butter, mustard and stock. Use your hands to combine until well mixed together.
During this process season too, we find you can’t really season enough and it’s always more than you think. It’s a bone of contention in our house, Phil is very pro seasoning and I have a more subtle style!
Once you have your well seasoned and nicely mixed filling put it to one side.
Take your wonderfully pre-rolled pasty (love this) and lay each sheet on your workspace. Of course, it doesn’t have to be pre-rolled, but it does make things easier. If you need to roll out your pastry it should be about 4-5mm thick.
Take a knife and cut each sheet in half, then cut each section into an oval.
Working on one of your ovals, place a quarter of your filling mixture on the centre of one side. Imagine your oval is split in two as one side is your base and the other the top of your Bridie.
Beat an egg and use your butter brush to brush along the edge of the oval where the top will meet the base and form a join.
Fold the pastry over the filling and seal the bridie, a good tight seal is crucial to avoid a soggy mess! You can cut off some excess pastry if you need to, just make sure that it’s still fully sealed.
Take your fork and decorate the edge of the crust, also helping seal the mixture inside.
Cut a small hole in the top of your Bridie to allow steam to escape during the cooking process. Use your egg wash to cover the top and bottom of your bridie (you can carefully flip it over with a fish slice or just prop it up on end to do both sides) and place to one side.
Repeat this process for your other three Bridies.
Using oven gloves take your hot tray out of the oven. Place your Bridies carefully base down on the baking tray. The heat should help the pastry cook properly and stay firm once cooked.
Bake for 45-55mins. Keep an eye on the hole at the top to make sure it doesn’t seal over, it’s important to let the steam exit and not build up too much.
Once your Bridies are golden brown they should be ready to serve, but if you think they’re browning too quickly you can lightly place tinfoil over the top and return to the oven.
Time to find the brown sauce!
Tips for avoiding “Soggy Bottom”
Anyone that’s ever seen the Great British Bake Off understands the fear of a “soggy bottom”.
Golden brown on the top but a soggy mess underneath, and no one needs that! Bridies definitely fall into the at-risk category so we have some different tricks and tips to try and avoid the dreaded SB!
- Preheat the baking tray in the oven to help the base of the pastry cook quicker, enabling it to stay firm.
- Use reusable baking parchment over a rack rather than a tray allowing more air to circulate while cooking. Don’t put a Bridie straight on to a rack as it will fall through.
- Pre-cook any vegetables before adding them to the mix to avoid any liquid released building in your Bridie. You could fry the onion beforehand, although it’s not how it’s traditionally done!
- You can also precook the filling but this is not the traditional way so not how we’ve done it this time.
- Make sure the hole is big enough to let the steam out of the Bridie
- Sometimes parchment paper can stop the base from cooking thoroughly. If you keep having issues try removing it and just using a preheated tray.
Bridies are a very simple dish and don’t leave a lot of room for variations, otherwise, it becomes just a pie or a pasty!
If you don’t mind breaking from traditions we would suggest trying some of the following:
While you’re trying to add to the flavour without adding too much liquid, you could substitute some stock for a little Worcester Sauce or Brown sauce to give it a little extra flavour.
You could add cheese either inside or on the top of the pastry, or try adding dried chilli flakes to the filling or even poppy seeds to the crust.
These would be a step too far for traditionalists but it’s your Bridie so you do with it as you please!
- 500g lean beef mince (approx 1lb)
- 1 medium finely chopped onion
- 40g butter (approx 1.5oz) or shredded suet
- 1 Beaten egg
- Salt and Black Pepper to season
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 3 tbsp Beef Stock
- 2 pre-rolled pastry (shortcrust or puff) - The ones we used came as 2 sheets totalling 375 g per pack.
- Preheat your oven to 180°c or 356°f, approx gas mark 4.
- Add your baking tray and parchment to the oven while it heats.
- Mix the mince, chopped onion, butter, mustard and stock together in a bowl and season, then set aside.
- Take the pastry and with a sharp knife cut each sheet in half to give four sections
- Cut each section into an oval by removing the corners.
- Working on one of your ovals, place a quarter of your filling mixture in the center of one side.
- Beat an egg and use a butter brush to brush some along the edge of the oval where the top will meet the base.
- Fold the pastry over the filling and seal the bridie by pressing and pinching the two edges together. Cut off any excess pastry to keep it a horseshoe shape, but be careful to make sure it's fully sealed.
- Take your fork and decorate the edge of the crust, this also helps seal the mixture inside.
- Cut a hole in the top of your Bridie to allow steam to escape during the cooking process.
- Use your egg wash to cover the top and bottom of your bridie and place to one side.
- Repeat this process for your other three Bridies.
- Using oven gloves take your hot tray out of the oven.
- Place your Bridies carefully, base down, on the baking tray.
- Bake for 45-55mins. Keep an eye on the hole at the top to make sure it doesn't seal over. If they start to brown too quickly loosely cover with tinfoil.
We stuck to the most traditional recipe for Forfar Bridies, but you can mix it up with different fillings if you like!
To avoid having a soggy pastry bottom preheat the tray in the oven, and if you notice any liquid during cooking carefully tip it off the tray and continue baking.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 190mgSodium: 429mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 40g