/ Food & Drink

Sweet or savoury, some foods are just to pie for

A steak pie with mash and veggies

I think I’m right in saying that at Which? HQ, we’re big fans of baking. From charity bake sales to birthday cupcakes, we’ve got all our bases covered. So we couldn’t possibly let British Pie Week go uncelebrated.

There seems to be a ‘day’ or a ‘week’ for everything nowadays. Although some of them sound downright bizarre (Bacon Connoisseurs Week, anyone?) many of them get us thinking about things that we might otherwise ignore.

This week is British Pie week, so we thought we’d kick off a discussion on Which? Conversation to see what people’s favourite pies are – sweet or savoury? Home-made or shop-bought? Hot or cold? And of course, if you have any recipes you’d like to share with us in the comments, I know our Which? HQ bakers would be eternally grateful!

Stewed apples or stewing steak?

I don’t know many people who would turn down a slice of apple pie, but sweet pies don’t tempt my taste buds quite like savoury ones. If I’ve got lots of cooking apples around I’d be more likely to put them in a crumble.

With savoury food, though, you really can’t beat a good pie, with the pastry soaking up the delicious juices of whatever you’ve put inside. Although the old favourites – pork pie, steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom – are pretty heavy on meat, there are plenty of vegetarian options to get your taste buds going. My mum makes a fantastic pie with spinach, potato and three different types of cheese – no meat required. I don’t think there are any bakers in the family who’ve tried it and haven’t immediately asked for the recipe.

Britain’s favourite pie?

What makes a great pie? It definitely takes a fantastic pastry – whether you’re going for the cheating efficient option of pre-made, or slaving over your own. But is pastry even a key ingredient? I once had a rather tense debate with a friend over whether one could choose shepherd’s or cottage as a favourite pie. Sure, they’re called pies, but given that they’ve no pastry, I don’t think they’d pass as pies during a Great British Bake Off challenge.

The key for me is that the ingredients have to be of decent quality, and you need to make sure that the filling is cooked to just the right consistency – not too dry and certainly not too liquid, to avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ when you take the pie out of the oven.

But that’s just me; as with anything food-related, it’s all very personal. One person’s ‘delicious’ is another’s ‘disgusting’. Are you a savoury person like me, or do you prefer your pies fruity and sweet? Have you ever tried making your own, or do you prefer shop-bought?

How do you like your pies?

I like both sweet and savoury pies (but not usually at the same time) (50%, 184 Votes)

Savoury! Bring on the gravy. (26%, 96 Votes)

I don't like pies at all (15%, 56 Votes)

Sweet! Pass the custard, please. (8%, 29 Votes)

Total Voters: 367

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Crumbs! This is a mouth-watering topic. I used to really enjoy Veal & Ham pie but you don’t see it very often and I haven’t had one for years. Game pie can be very tasty if well made. My default pie is Pork in any form, cured or uncured meat, with or without an egg in it, home-made or factory-made, so long as the pastry is not too hard and the jelly tastes strong.

My everyday favourite dinner pie is Steak & Kidney. This used to be a pub staple but, again, it doesn’t get out much these days as kidneys seem to be out of favour at the moment. Steak & Ale pie appears to have taken its place on pub menus.

I often wondered how, in ancient times, they managed to catch four-and-twenty blackbirds to put in the king’s pie. Sadly, the maid paid the price for his majesty’s indulgence by having her nose pecked off by a blackbird.

Hot pork pie with chips and peas followed by home-made raspberry pie. When I was younger my mother used to make a meat and potato pie – meat was in short supply – which I remember with nostalgia. Served with HP sauce.

Brands A1 Sauce was my favourite condiment. I haven’t seen it for years – is it still available? And what happened to OK Sauce? That was another one to add a bit of pep to a pie.

Sophie Gilbert says:
5 March 2013

My mum’s chicken pie! Home made from scratch, including the pastry, no cheating. I’ve tried to make it, but it just isn’t the same – just like everything else she makes.

Weren’t our mothers wonderful? I’m sure I didn’t show my appreciation sufficiently to my mother while she was alive. The excessive build-up and hype over Mother’s Day these days can be somewhat distressing for those of us who lost their mothers at far too young an age – women who had to struggle more than any modern mother, producing rich and satisfying meals from the meagrest resources; they were not showered with the bouquets and beanfeasts that are going to gratify the tycoons of commerce next weekend. Well at least Mrs Tesco and Mrs Asda will have a good time. Sorry . . . right off topic. Back to a good piece of pie for elevenses!

One of the best pies I’ve had is the “Haggis Pie in a Whisky Gravy” from the Bree Louise near Euston Station. They’ve got a wide selection of pies, but I haven’t tried any of the other ones.

Nikki – the best raspberry pie is just raspberries, preferably fresh but frozen are good. Cooked in the pastry with a bit of sugar, I’m told by the chef. Generally we use a pie plate with pastry top and bottom. They can be extended with a little apple if you’re a bit short of fruit. Apparently you can cook the fruit lightly first – about 4 mins – if you mix fruit like redcurrants with raspberries to check their sweetness.

Anna says:
27 January 2015

I don’t suppose you’ve ever done a quality comparison between the various types of ready-rolled pastry on offer, have you? eg the different types/brands of puff pastry?