With 75% of us enjoying at least one pie a month, the great British Pie is something worth celebrating!
1. What is a pie? Forget mash-topped shepherd’s, open tarts, and anything with only a lid on top, because a proper pie is ‘a filling totally enclosed with pastry’.
2. British Pie Week happens once a year, March 7-13 in 2016.
3. According to pastry-makers Jus-Rol, in the UK our favourite pie filling is steak and kidney (30%), steak and ale (26%) and chicken and mushroom (25%), with chicken and leek (9%), vegetable (8%) and game (1%) bringing up the rear.
4. Most of us favour a puff pastry lid (37%), followed by shortcrust pastry bottom and puff pastry lid (26%), with shortcrust pastry bottom and lid last (19%).
5. The British Pie Awards are judged during British Pie Week in Melton Mowbray, the home of the famous pork pie. In 2016 there are 20 classes, including fish, vegetarian and dessert pies, football pies (sold at football clubs), a free-from category, and ‘A truly regal pie to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen.’
6. 75% of UK consumers eat at least one pie a month, but of those, just 8% of people in the south eat more than four pies a month, compared to 11% in the North and Scotland, 20% in the Midlands and Wales and 33% in Northern Ireland.
7. The Ancient Egyptians are thought to have been the first to make pies, from a pastry of oats or wheat around a honey filling.
8. By the Middle Ages in England, thick pie crusts were used as dishes in which to cook meat. The posh people ate the filling, while the crusts, known as coffyns, were given to the servants.
9. Pasty was a general English term for any meat pie baked without a dish, but in the 17th and 18th century Cornish miners started to take them underground to eat. Traditionally they are double ended – with meat at one end and jam at the other for pud!
10. Jus-Rol started selling ready to roll pastry in 1954, and the inspiration for the name came from the ladies who worked in the bakery, who, when asked what they did with the pastry cuttings, said, ‘we just roll it out..!’
11. Thanks to European ‘protected designation of origins laws’ only 10 companies are allowed to make Melton Mowbray pork pies, all produced within a certain distance of the village of Melton in Leicestershire.
12. The pie industry in the UK is worth well over £1 billion a year, with over £145 million just from the sale of Melton Mowbray pork pies alone.
13. The world’s most expensive pie was sold at the Fence Gate Inn, Lancashire on November 14, 2005. For £8,195 a pie – or £1,024 a slice. It contained Japanese wagyu beef fillet, Chinese matsutake mushrooms (costing £500 per 1kg) and French Bluefoot mushrooms (£200 per 1kg), while the pastry had edible gold leaf and the gravy was made with two bottles of vintage wine.
14. The Guinness World Record for the world’s largest meat pie is currently held by Stratford-Upon-Avon College with a pie that weighed in at 10.54kg ( just over 23lb)!
15. As American as apple pie? Well not entirely, as the apple pie recipes and apple seeds originally came from England along with the Pilgrims.
16. The World Pie Eating Championships take place at Harry’s Bar in Wigan around the middle of December. The winner is the person who manages to eat a standard pie fastest – the current record is less than 45 sec and the pies are 12cm diameter and 3.5 cm deep, with a beef and potato filling. The winner receives a free lunch and a trophy. Before 2006 the competition took place over a set time and the winner was the competitor who ate the most pies during that time – the rules were altered to meet government healthy eating guidelines!
What’s your favourite pie filling?