Posted 9th Mar 2016
With the celebrations for British Pie Week underway, we've sat down with Camilla Stephens, co-founder of Higgidy, to what this week means to them, the story behind the heart (you know the one...!) and much more
1) You set up Higgidy 11 years ago with your husband, James - what was the inspiration to do this?
I’ve always worked in food. I started at Leiths straight out of school, edited the food section of Good Housekeeping magazine and ended up at the Seattle Coffee Company – which was then bought by Starbucks – developing their food range. In 2001 I went freelance and, inspired by companies like Innocent and Green & Blacks, decided to set up Higgidy with my husband James. We felt there was a gap in the market for pies made using quality ingredients and creative flavor combinations.
2) What do you think helps Higgidy stand out from the other pies on the market?
We make pies, quiches and sausage rolls that are as close to homemade as possible; we only use ingredients that you’d use in your kitchen at home, bake in small batches and finish everything by hand. We try to make our pies as special as possible by adding a twist to classic combinations – like our British Beef, Stilton and Sussex Ales Pie, or our Spinach Feta & Toasted Pine Nut Pie. Over half our range is vegetarian, which also sets us apart from other pies on the market.
3) How do you come up with your new pie recipes?
We get people writing in all the time to tell us about their favourite pies and suggesting new recipes, which we absolutely love. From the suggestions we try to make pies that we know people will love. I’m very proud of the innovation and creativity at Higgidy – we have a special kitchen where we test out new recipes, and we’re always working hard to keep improving what we make, coming up with new ideas and exploring new ingredients and flavours.
4) Do Higgidy have any exciting plans for the future?
We’re always developing new recipes, and working on exciting new flavour combinations. Look out for our special guest and seasonal flavours, which are sold in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. We also love to come up with recipes to share on Facebook and Instagram – look out for our Mac N Cheese Pie recipe, which we’ll be sharing during Pie Week.
5) Do you have any tips for anyone trying out one of your recipes?
- You can’t rush good cooking, so take time and care with your recipe and enjoy the process – your pie will taste better for it! In particular, never hurry a meat filling – long, slow cooking will produce a rich dark stew with glossy gravy. I sometimes make my stews a couple of days ahead to allow the flavours to develop.
- Don’t be afraid to be creative – if you have a favourite ingredient, or an idea for an unusual combination, then give it a go.
- Good ingredients make a good pie – we choose ingredients based on their quality and heritage. When making a meat pie, don’t mix cuts of meat as they will all cook at a different pace and end up chewy or stringy.
- Don’t worry if your pie doesn’t look perfect, a higgledy piggledy pie is all part of the home-made charm! The most tasty, well-loved pies are those with wobbly buttery pastry and oozy filling bubbling over the side of the dish.
- Try experimenting with different cheeses in your pastry – strong ones like Parmesan and Extra Mature Cheddar work really well. You can even add some English mustard powder for extra oomph.
6) How do Higgidy go about celebrating Pie Week?
National Pie Week is an exciting time of year for us and the height of our pie productions. We’ve come a long way since I created the first Higgidy pie in my kitchen 12 years ago and we’re delighted to be making our 50 millionth pie during Pie Week this year.
7) Why do your pies have the hearts on top?
We like to use excess pastry to decorate the lid and make the pie more interesting. Hearts and stars are our favourite at Higgidy but if you’re making a pie at home, you can experiment with all sorts of shapes and designs. Make sure you brush the pastry with egg yolks afterwards to give it a lovely golden glaze.
8) Which is your favourite of your pies, and what are your favourite things to have with it?
Our Sweet Potato and Feta Pie with Pumpkin Seeds is probably my favourite, but the Spinach, Feta, and Toasted Pine Nut Pie is our bestseller. It really represents how people are increasingly looking for new and creative twists on classic flavor combinations. There are any number of tasty sides that go well with a pie, but combining petits pois, pancetta and kale creates a really satisfying side dish that’s full of flavour.
9) Any plans for sweet pies?
We don’t have any plans at the moment, but you can find a whole host of recipes for sweet pies – like Mini Brown Sugar Banoffees or Salted Pecan Fudge Pie – in our Higgidy cookbook and on our social media.