Posted 9th Mar 2016
The British Pie Awards are back (9th March 2016) and to celebrate we sat down with the chairman of the judges, Ian Nelson, to find out more about this year's awards, for which our very own Editorial Assistant Lauren Morton is a judge
What first got you interested in pie making?
Pies are universally popular and nowhere more so than Britain. They are adaptable for any occasion and season, be savoury or sweet, hot or cold. Whilst there are no limits to the combination of pastry and filling they must be enjoyable to eat, and for a baker that’s an exciting challenge.
How did you become involved in the British Pie Awards?
After protected status (PGI) was granted to Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, the members of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association considered how pies made throughout Britain could be best promoted. With experience in the world of food, and particularly pies, I was invited to chair this fabulous gathering of 120 judges and over 800 pies.
Why do you think that the British Pie Awards is such a success?
Pies are a classic British dish, liked throughout the land. There are some fantastic pies out there made by bakers, chefs and cooks. The British Pie Awards brings both small and large producers together and promotes the overall excellence of British pies. Producers promote their success, which is good for their own business and creates great pride for both the pie makers and customers.
As chairman of the judges at this year's awards, can you tell us what you will be looking for in an award-winning pie?
1. The perfect pie must look good. It should have a wow factor that makes you want to buy and eat it.
2. The bake should be perfect and even, indicating the technical baking skill of the pie maker.
3. The pastry sides and base should be of a consistent thickness and neither too thick or too thin, which is another technical skill.
4. The pastry is half of the pie so it's texture and flavour should be in harmony with the filling.
5. The pie should be appropriately filled and it should taste as good as it looks.
Finally, can you share with us some top tips on how to make the perfect pie?
1. Understand your oven. Pies should be neither over baked and burnt or under baked and soggy.
2. The pastry should be neither too greasy nor too dry and crumbly and neither too salty or too bland.
3. The filling shouldn't be too thin or too thick and it shouldn't be under seasoned or over seasoned. Flavour combinations should be balanced.
The British Pie Awards will be taking place on Wednesday 9th March. For the chance to taste and buy the award-winning pies, go along to the Great British Festival of Pies at Melton Mowbray town centre on Saturday 12th March. For further information, visit www.britishpieawards.co.uk.