The History of the Great British Pie

May 09, 2024

From Humble Beginnings to Haute Cuisine

Ah, the pie. A cornerstone of British cuisine, a handheld hug in a buttery pastry embrace. But have you ever wondered where this national treasure came from? Let’s dig into the history of the Great British Pie!

Believe it or not, the pie's origins can arguably be traced back to the ancient Romans. They enjoyed "placentae," a flatbread filled with savoury meats and cheeses. The idea then travelled across Europe, eventually reaching Britain. Here, resourceful cooks took advantage of the Romans' invention but added their own twist – a crusty top made from readily available ingredients like flour and water. Initially, this crust wasn't meant for eating (think of it as an edible container), but with the addition of butter and lard later on, the delicious pastry we know and love today was born.

Early pies were all about hearty fillings. Think stews encased in pastry – a complete meal in one hand. Meat was the king, with anything from pigeon to eels (yes, eels) finding their way into pies. In fact, these elaborate pies sometimes served as entertainment! Imagine a banquet where a pie is dramatically opened, releasing a flurry of birds (think ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’).


Sweet Success

The 16th century saw the rise of sweet pies. Queen Elizabeth I, a legendary foodie, is said to have been served the first cherry pie. This, along with the introduction of sugar from the New World, paved the way for a wider variety of fruit fillings.

Mince pies, originally filled with a mixture of meat, fruits, and spices, also became a popular festive treat around this time. Interestingly, Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector during the Puritan era, briefly banned mince pies, deeming them too decadent. Luckily, this ban was short-lived, and mince pies triumphantly returned to Christmas celebrations.

Our scrumptious selection of sweet pies will hit the spot any time of day or night. From tartly sweet Apple and Blackcurrant to our rich, decadent Chocolate, Pear and Almond.

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pies for the people

Pies weren't just for royalty or the rich. They were a staple food for everyone from peasants to labourers. The humble "hand pie" – a portable, single-serving wonder – fueled the working class for centuries. "Pie, mash, and liquor" became a classic working-class meal, a testament to the pie's ability to be both satisfying and affordable.


A United Kingdom of Pies

The beauty of the British pie is its regional diversity. From the classic steak pie of the north to the Cornish pasty of the southwest, each region has its own take on this beloved dish. Scotland boasts the iconic Scotch pie, filled with minced mutton or beef. In Wales, the "cawl pie" features a hearty stew of lamb, vegetables, and herbs. Let's not forget the regional variations in pastry – buttery puff pastry, crumbly shortcrust, or even a suet crust, each adding a unique texture to the experience.


Make Your Own Pie History

So, there you have it! The next time you tuck into a pie, remember the fascinating journey it's taken. From humble beginnings to culinary icon, the pie is a testament to British ingenuity and love of good food.

There are plenty of reasons why the pie has stood the test of time. It's:


From a quick lunch to a celebratory centrepiece, pies cater to every occasion.


There's something undeniably comforting about a warm, flaky pastry filled with delicious goodness.


Pies are perfect for picnics, road trips, or simply enjoying on the go.


Pies evoke memories of childhood, family gatherings, and the simple joy of good food.

Want to write your own chapter in the pie story? Here at Pies By Post, we bring the heart of Lochinver Larder straight to your doorstep. Our pies, lovingly handmade with the freshest ingredients, are a taste of tradition waiting to be discovered and devoured. Explore our mouthwatering selection and make your own personal pie history – order your box today!

Pie with Suilven

Never have I ever felt the need to leave a review before but after just eating your Venison and Cranberry pie with my flatmates, my taste buds melted. I have never enjoyed every bite of something so much. In short, wow. Blown away.
Pie Loving Customer