Pie facts and top tips

National Pie Day, USA, January 23rd.

A day of (pie) food celebration that started in the mid-1970s.

A Colorado nuclear engineer, brewer and teacher declared National Pie Day on his birthday.

Who knew it was so easy to do?

The American Pie Council has backed it since 1986 to help promote and improve the pie industry.

But let’s be real, for everyone else, it’s just a day to celebrate the mighty pie.

And then there are those who take it next-level with pie-eating competitions.

The current record to eat a standard pie fastest – with a beef and potato filling, stands at 23.53 seconds.

I prefer to stick with enjoying a pie with family and friends.

The beauty of a pie is its range.

Sweet to savoury, both in pastry and fillings.

Pie making tips

  • Read the recipe top to bottom before starting.
  • Use chilled butter and cut into small lumps
  • Use cold utensils, bowls and tins if possible
  • Have cold hands before handling.
  • Water measurements in a pie ingredient list are always estimates. It’s best to start with a little. Toss. Add a little more. Toss.
  • Chill the dough for at least 30 mins (*can also do for up to 2 days) before rolling it out. Keeping the shortening cold ensures a nice flaky crust!
  • Don’t overwork or overhandle the dough.
  • Roll the Dough, Turn the Dough. Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface with a well-floured rolling pin and turn the dough a quarter-turn (about 90 degrees) after each roll
  • Let the dough fall into the dish. Lower the dough loosely into the dish, letting the dough fall down into the creases at the edge rather than pushing or forcing it. If you push and prod and stretch too much, the dough will go back to its original shape when you bake it.
  • Chill the lined pie dish. Cover and chill the lined pie dish (and any rolled out top crust) before blind-baking or filling the pie. This helps the pie keep its shape when you bake it.
  • Bake until brown. To get the full tenderness and flakiness of a great pie crust, be sure to bake the pie until the crust turns fully brown, not just golden.

A quick history of pies

  • Pie-like dishes have been around since the ancient Egyptians.
  • However, it’s the ancient Romans who had the clever idea to enclose the filling.
  • The pie we know and love today probably came from Northern Europe where butter and lard were used to make the pastry.
  • The early pies (pyes) were mainly meat.
  • They popped up in England in the 12th century as a good way to have nutritious, long-lasting food that was easy to store and carry.
  • The crust was called a ‘coffin’ and was very thick… they were the equivalent of the today’s Tupperware.

‘Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie’

A quirky little historical pie-ish fact…

 Do you know this old nursery rhyme?…

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye, four and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.

Now wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before a king?

There are many theories to the origins of this medieval rhyme.

But there is one historical fact.

Although, contrary to what the rhyme says, the birds were not actually baked in the pie.

But, they would make an enormous pie crust for a banquet, that had a wooden scaffolding inside, so it was baked hollow.

Then they cut a trapdoor in the bottom, put live birds in the pie.

They would bring out the pie to the host and the excited diners and crack open the top, where the birds would come fluttering out through the dining room to their freedom.

And that’s entertainment in medieval times.

Top 10 most loved pies in the UK

I think I’m going to challenge myself to make a few of these this year.

Check out the links to the one’s I have on my blog.

They’re delicious and easy to make.

1: Cottage Pie

2: Fish Pie

3: Shepherd’s Pie

4: Chicken & Leek Pie

5: Chicken and Mushroom Pie

6: Steak and Ale Pie

7: Meat and Potato Pie

8: Pork Pie

9: Steak and Kidney Pie

10: Corned Beef Pie

What’s your favourite pie? Leave a comment.