Friday, 7 October 2011

Pie: a personal history

With autumn here my foodie thoughts are starting to move from salads back to homemade soups, casseroles, and pies. I love making pie, either mash-covered fish or cottage pie, or puff pastry lids on chickeny or beefy goodies. I don't make my own pastry (my mother-in-law tuts loudly when I get the Jus-Rol out), but I do like to decorate the lid (with "PIE" or the kids' names). I never use a pastry base either because I think it makes the pie too dense.

It's a pie, of course

I'm from the North (Lancashire), and pie is a big thing where I'm from! Holland's Pies are based in Baxenden, a few miles from where I grew up. When we used to drive past the factory the smell was so good!

Holland's Pie vans were a familiar sight (Photo: Paul Anderson)

When I was younger, my favourite pie was my mum's potato pie. She would make it with sliced onions, little cubes of potato, and small pieces of steak cooked for hours. And mum would make her own shortcrust pastry (me and my sister used to help, possibly why I don't make my own now!), but the pastry was cooked separately as little circles. These were delicious soaked underneath the pie filling. And of course, we had pickled red cabbage on the side (or my favourite, massive strong pickled onions). I was always torn about which pickle to have, because I could only have one type :(

I remember mum putting mini meat pies in our lunchbox (they were called party pies). We bought our pies from the Palatine Cafe in Great Harwood, classic. These little pies had a hard crust, a tiny mouthful of spicy pork or beef filling inside, surrounded by salty oozy jelly. Delicious.

Mmm, party pie

As I got older and spent Saturdays or school holidays traipsing around my home town, we'd usually end up at a pie shop for lunch. You couldn't beat a meat and potato pie from Hopkins Bakery, and my friend loved butter (potato) pies (very Northern!). In my late teens I discovered the joy that is steak pudding, lovely squishy, suety, beefy pies. Served best with chips, mushy peas, gravy and lots of vinegar (from Clayton St Chip Shop). These aren't available down south, I miss them so much *sob*

At University, my boyfriend (now my husband!) introduced me to tinned Fray Bentos pies. I think the least said about those the better.


Hope you've enjoyed my pie history, it's very Northern but that's me! My meal plans will start to include a pie a week from now on, until the spring returns at least (this week's was a beef and vegetable, very tasty). Not all pies need to be unhealthy though. I'll be looking for healthy varieties to try and share.

Hope you're not too hungry now xx


  1. I thought pie was very high in fat and calories, have hardly eaten any since I started to eat healthily. I really miss them. Let me know if you find a low calorie pie.

  2. If you cook the filling yourself, so you know what's going in, you can control fat. Jus-Rol do a "light" ready-rolled puff pastry now.
    I'd say a pie once a week is no worse than a dinner of meat or fish with mash and veg.

  3. Like your photo of the Bedford Pie truck. My brother runs one similar vintage selling pies in Kingaroy, Australia.


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