We do love a good pie in this country, so it is rather fitting that we have National British Pie Week to celebrate our love and skill when it comes to pie eating and making. And wouldn’t you know it – National British Pie Week happens to fall right now! But instead of writing a post about all my favourite pies (which I strongly suspect I did last year), I decided to try something a bit different in 2015. Today I’ve been on a bit of a research mission to discover some recipes behind traditional British regional pies, the sort you might not see too often on a menu (or perhaps you do) but sound like they’re well-worth trying out yourself at home…
(Click the name of each pie below to check out a recipe for each)
Banbury is a town in Oxfordshire in case you’re wondering, but what makes their apple pie any different from a normal run-of-the-mill apple pie? Well, as far as I can gather, it’s to do with the filling. Instead of stewed apple, it’s made by layering slices of apple inter-dispersed with layers of sultanas, sweet spice and orange zest, surrounded by a double short-crust pastry. If you automatically think apples pies are boring, I suspect this delicious-sounding concoction might be the one to sway you, but of course, any homemade sweet pie can never be boring. My instinct would be to serve this with vanilla ice cream, but that doesn’t feel like it quite fits in with the traditional regional British theme, so double cream it is then, which is no great sacrifice really.
The first thing I thought of when I heard of this was, well, squab, which means ‘young pigeon’, and I’m not too sure where I’d get hold of any of them at short notice. But surprisingly, Devon Squab Pie isn’t made with squab at all, but with lamb. It builds on that strange British quirk we have of mixing sweet and savoury, with the lamb being accompanied by apples, prunes and sweet spices before being topped with puff pastry, something I’m more than willing to give a go. But perhaps the strangest quirk about this dish is that fact that it’s traditionally accompanied by some clotted cream on the side, something I suspect is obligatory when eating any food stuff in the West Country.
Well of course there’s a London Pie! The British pre tradition would be missing a trick if there wasn’t one. I couldn’t find too much information about its origins, but the recipe above indicates that it’s another sweet and savoury combination – a sort of cottage pie with added apples, sultanas and er, curry powder. This melting pot of flavours feels like a rather fitting tribute to that great melting pot of a city.
And what blog post on British regional pies would be complete without a mention of the most famous of them all? Yes, whilst you might not be familiar with the pies listed above, I’m betting you must have tried this picnic classic on more than one occasion. The traditional recipe involves preparing the three elements that make up the pork pie (the pastry, the jelly and the pork filling), but with the spring on the horizon, why not celebrate British Pie Week by giving it a whirl this weekend?