There’s nothing like a good pie when you want a warming and filling meal or a substantial pudding. This is probably why pie gets a whole week of celebration in its honour here in the UK, which says a lot when pancakes only get a day.
Pies have come a long way over the years, from being the perfect way to serve up absolutely anything to featuring in Michelin-starred restaurants. There’s definitely more to pie than meets the eye and to fully understand this, you need to look at where the delicious and humble pie started out.
Bake like an Egyptian
While over in the UK we were just putting up Stonehenge, the Egyptians had already constructed the pyramids and – more importantly – the first pie. A far cry from what you can pick up in the shops or whip up in your own kitchen, this sweet concoction had a honey filling with a coating made from oats or wheat.
From the gods of Olympus
It didn’t take long for other countries to start producing their own forms of pie, but the marvelous invention of pastry was down to the Ancient Greeks. Not content with a lacklustre pie exterior, they produced the first water and flour pastry, upping the pie game and changing the world forever.
Straight roads and cheesecake
Although it isn’t technically a pie, cheesecake is its own very important food group and we have the Romans to thank for it. Some time around the second century BC, these guys started making loads of different pastries, including ‘placenta’, which was an early form of the cheesecake we all know, love and would happily eat in large quantities.
The northern obsession begins
We actually have to thank the Romans for bringing pies to the UK – even if they did technically invade us in order to do it. While those in the south weren’t all that bothered, people t’up north went a bit pie mad – no change there then. This is probably where the Scot’s love of macaroni cheese pie began.
Cornwall changes the world (for the better)
The pies brought over by the Romans were appreciated in at least one part of the south. Cornwall saw them as the perfect packed lunch for miners and so created the Cornish pasty, complete with crust to stop dirty hands ruining the rest of it.
The royals love a pasty
It isn’t just the miners who love a good pasty down in the south-west – royalty actually picked up the trend too. King Henry II actually ordered the residents of Great Yarmouth to pay an annual tribute to the Sheriffs of Norwich in the form of pasties, which isn’t a bad tax if you ask us.
My oh my, apple pie
As hard as it is to believe, apple pie wasn’t a big thing until the 1500s, at least not in the UK. It was first mentioned in English literature by R Greene and since then has been a staple of the dessert trolley, although we’re not sure whether cream or custard was the most popular topping back then.
Pie disasters are big disasters
It’s always a disaster when we burn our pies at home, but at least our pie baking didn’t cause the Great Fire of London in 1666. That was due to a fire starting at Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane, which ultimately left thousands homeless and without pie.
The best pork pies in all the land
The obsession with Melton Mowbray pork pies started at some point in the 19th century when people staying at the inns couldn’t get enough of them. It didn’t take this humble pork pie long to take over the world, even achieving protected geographical status back in 2008.
Even 1914 liked a Gregg's steak bake
That’s right, Greggs started off in Tyneside as a door-to-door business that sold eggs and yeast. When Jack Gregg himself was called up during WWI, his wife bought two vans to make deliveries easier and it eventually became the Greggs we know today. You can now find at least two Greggs per street throughout the north.
Pie gets posh
In 1966, the world’s eyes – and mouths – were opened to the poshest pie of them all; Beef Wellington. The first recipe for this marvellous creation was published in this year and was actually named for a civic reception in Wellington, New Zealand.
It just gets better and better
The arrival of the internet allowed for recipes to be more readily available and for bloggers to share their unique creations. You can now pin pies on Pinterest, drool over #InstaPies and find out from Mary Berry how to avoid the curse of the soggy bottom. The love of pies has only grown, as has the humble pie itself, which means this British Pie Week is the perfect time to embrace your favourite type of pie – although maybe not when it’s fresh from the oven.