This week is British Pie Week so it would be rude not to sample a few.
We Brits love a pie and, according to the British Pie Awards, eat more than £1billion worth a year.
The definition of a pie is ‘a filling totally encased in pastry and baked’ and there are many sweet and savoury versions to try, from chicken and mushroom – reportedly the nation’s favourite – to a classic apple pie.
Stoke-on-Trent is the proud home of Wrights Pies, which was established in 1926 by Jack and Lizzie Wright, who sold pies to neighbours from their doorstep in Shelton.
Today Wrights manufactures everything from sausage rolls, pies and pastries to confectionery products, ready meals and cookies at its £30 million manufacturing facility in Crewe and has 15 Wrights stores across Stoke-on-Trent.
The firm was founded on the humble meat and potato pie, so we decided to put Wrights to the test against another local bakery, Nantwich-based Chatwins, which has shops in Newcastle, Alsager and Congleton.
We also tried a bargain option from Bolton-based chain PoundBakery, which has shops in Hanley, Newcastle and Crewe, plus a pie from an independent butcher – in this case Plant and Wilton in High Street, Newcastle.
So how did they fare?
The pie was served piping hot in the shop, which would be great for an on-the-go lunch.
It was a good size and shape with nice crispy pastry, although the pastry could be a little thick for some.
The meat was in very small pieces rather than chunks, but the potato pieces were distinct. On the whole, the filling was soft and well-seasoned.
The shop had run out of hot pies (it was late afternoon, so I was well after the lunchtime trade), but it was not a problem as I planned to warm it up at home.
The pie was a little smaller but was nice and deep. The pastry looked very tempting – golden and glazed, and was nice and crisp.
There was a good amount of filling which had more chunky meat and a lot of flavour. It had a nice peppery taste, which I liked. A good pie.
By far the cheapest of the bunch, I would have been surprised if it was as good as the others.
It was a shallower pie with a lot less filling, and there was very little meat content making it mushy, but the potato was nice. It didn’t have as much flavour and the pastry was more crumbly.
The most expensive pie but, I’ve got to say, it was on another level to the others.
I was asked in the shop if I wanted it warming, so it could also be an option for lunch on-the-go.
The pie had plenty of filling with lovely, tender chunks of meat and potato. On cutting it open, a little gravy oozed out.
The pasty was golden and crisp and the pie had lots of flavour – a real homemade taste.
It was the most pricey but the pie from Plant and Wilton was, for me, vastly superior to the others.
Of course, it’s harder to get that homemade taste when you’re producing huge numbers of pies to supply lots of shops. The Chatwins pie was a really tasty option that I would eat again, and Wrights’ was also good.
The only one I wouldn’t bother with again would be Poundbakery, but I guess you get what you pay for. If you need a quick lunch on a tight budget it could be the one for you.