Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Throwback to the Hessian days of Cranks and Marshall Street for Pie Week

When I was first working as a secretary in the West End, back in the 1970s, there really wasn't much choice if you wanted a filling, inexpensive lunch that wasn't something greasy from a pub, or a sandwich. 

But I was introduced to Cranks in Marshall Street, just off Carnaby Street, and it was a revelation. It was worthy, it was wholemeal, there was hessian on the walls, it was healthy, it was vegetarian. It was round the corner to where I worked in Wardour Street.

It was perfect.

Every day, I would have the same thing. Soup, salad and a roll. Each day it was different as the salad was made up of a selection from different bowls and each day these were different, depending on what had come in from the suppliers, and who was making it. The soup was freshly made each day and was always different. The rolls were solid, wholemeal, and as tasty as anything.

And sometimes, there was pie. Even, if I were lucky,  Homity Pie.

The ingredients are so simple, but like lots of things it is more than the sum of its ingredients. It is deliciously savoury, filling but not stodgy, and a perfect lunch or dinner with salad (and these days, I will often chuck a bit of cold meat alongside. Sorry Cranks...)


  • Shortcrust pastry made with 200g flour - Cranks always used wholemeal flour,but I have to say that I find white flour less heavy.
  • 200g potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled until tender.
  • 100g onions, peeled, chopped and sauteed until tender but not brown
  • 100g hard mature cheese, grated and split into two lots of 50g
  • one clove of garlic, crushed
  • One handful of chopped parsley
  • a little milk
  • salt and pepper to taste.


Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6
Line 4 x 4inch tartlet cases with the shortcrust pastry (or you can make a large pie, in which case line an 8 inch quiche tin)
Put the potatoes, onions, garlic , parsley, seasoning and half of the cheese into a bowl and mix with a little milk to make a rough not sloppy mix.
Fill into the unbaked tartlet cases and top with the other half of the grated cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top and the pastry is well cooked.
Allow to cool slightly before serving with salad. 
Cranks is no longer around, too much competition I guess. But whilst it was, it was good.  I miss it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, that takes me back. Homity pie is still an absolute favourite. As well as homily pie, I remember cheesy gaps filled with cress and tiger milk with great affection. I make my pastry with half wholemeal and half white which gives the best of both worlds - nutty flavour from the flour, but still quite light.