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18th February 2020

The Best That Money Could Pie – Celebrating British Pie Week

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It’s no secret that we are a nation of pie lovers of all different flavours – beauty really is in the pie of the beholder!

Pies date all the way back to the ancient Egypt, but enclosing a filling in a flour and olive oil pastry originated in ancient Rome – the first documented recipe included a rye dough filled with goats cheese and honey, showing how delicious Roman street food could be!

Our traditional pie that we all know and love originated in Northern Europe where olive oil was hard to come by – as a result, butter and lard were used to create a pastry that could be rolled and moulded – and so the Northern European pie was born.

The early “pyes” first seen in Britain were normally meat pies. In the 12th century, the need for nutritious, long-lasting food that was easy to store and carry, particularly at sea, and meat was transported in pastry to keep it fresh and edible. Whilst these meat parcels might have been eaten as pies, the pastry shell were also used as a medieval version of cling film, and were also disposed of when their purpose was served. Fruit pies only found popularity centuries later in the late 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I was served the first documented cherry pie.

One famous British nursery rhyme Sing A Song Of Sixpence mentions “four and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie”, which actually is nearer to historical fact than at first glance! In medieval times, pie crusts were thick and could be baked first, rising to form a pot – which could then be filled after baking with a range of dramatic fillings for aristocratic banquets. Whilst the birds were not actually baked in the pie, the lid of the pie would have been removed at a banquet where “the birds began to sing” to delight royal and aristocratic diners. Medieval chefs were known for their competitive streak when it came to these pieces of banquet theatre, with live rabbits, frogs and dogs being ‘baked’ in pies and revealed at banquets – as well as poetry-reciting dwarves and at one time a whole musical troupe!

Whilst today’s British pie might not be quite so dramatic, consumers are just as passionate about their pies as their ancestors. Indeed, the ongoing debate of what constitutes a pie led to a petition presented to the British Government in 2015 which was signed by over 5000 people! The petition asked for a pie to be classed as “a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry” – with the petition attempting to exclude any casserole dishes with a pastry lid only, which did not completely encase the filling. Pie lovers are really not going to let any old recipe fly!

At Sleaford Quality Foods, we can offer a range of pastry mixes, pie fillings, and seasonings perfect for any pie recipe you have in mind – we are also here to help you develop your next bestselling recipe, so give us a call today!

Give us a call to discuss your baking and pie filling requirements today! You can contact us:

  • By calling 01529 305000.
  • Emailing us at enquiries@sleafordqf.com.
  • Talking to us on our Live Chat function at sleafordqf.com

We would love to hear from you!

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