PORK PIES - HAM CAKES
As a dutiful practice, we love to trace the history of any baked item that we bring to you from across the nation. A narrow departure from being a regular sweet baked item, pork pies hold a unique position in the face of baking and bakery alike. Recorded in a Latin text, the recipe of pork pies shows how its evolution is dated from ancient times steeped in rich cultural heritage.
Taken from, Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome, Patrick Faas, the recipe extract goes like :
“Pernam, ubi eam cum caricis plurimis elixa veris et tribus lauri foliis, detracta cute tessellatim indicis et melle complebis. Deinde farinam oleo subactam contexes et ei corium reddis et cum farina cocta fuerit, eximas furno ut est et inferes.”
Translation – Three bay leaves and a large number of dried figs to be added to boiling ham. The skin is removed from the ham and diagonal incisions are carefully made into the meat. Honey is carefully poured onto the meat. The ham is cooked inside of the dough and is served once ready and crisp!
While pork pies were often a symbol of luxury for the English people, it was a meal of hard survival for American settlers. With scare provisions, the American settlers relied on the regular English recipe of pie and then used meat to add to the same. Pies also happened to have preserved the meat longer and in itself were more filling than any regular dish. The flour used in making the pastry was also lesser in quantity, making it a dependable meal to have.
At Bakers Market, we like to nerd about pies and cakes and hence we bring you a curated, handpicked list of pies that you must know and try out at least once!
- Gala Pie – A perfect picnic carry meal, Gala pie is basically a pork pie but with a whole egg inside. Commercially made gala pies go bonkers on the whole eggs aesthetic and make a tube of a long egg put inside the meat by arranging multiple eggs together. Gala pies can also be made with gammon and a carefully seasoned crust of hot water pastry.
- Melton Mowbray Pork Pie – Named after Melton Mowbray, a city in Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray Pork pies are distinguished from other pies with its relatively harder crust than most pies. These pies used to be widely consumed by the fox hunters in the city of Melton Mowbray in the eighteenth century. The uncured meat of a Melton pie is grey in colour when cooked and the meat is chopped, rather than minced. As the pies are baked free-standing, the sides bow outwards, rather than being vertical as with mould-baked pies. Melton Mowbray pork pies are served at room temperature, unlike pork pies in Yorkshire which may be served hot.
- Hand raised pie – A tall, free standing pie made of hot water crust pastry, hand raised pie bears its naming from the use of hands in raising the body of the pie instead of using a tin or a mould. The pies contained minced, chopped meat with an aspic mixture for gravy. Hand raised pork pies are easier to make over any regular hand raised pie because the meat gives the crust a natural support from within for its girth. Pork pie pastry is an excellent spin of hand raised pork pies that are ideal for any festive occasion.
- Gluten free pork pie – Gluten free recipes can often call for a specific recipe different from the regular one to retain the originality in texture and flavour. Gluten free pork pies similarly use fish sauce to retain the airy, buttery and golden brown topping and crust like a regular pork pie. The fish sauce does not incorporate its individual taste into the finished pie but only acts as an enhancer of the meat flavour.
- Ploughman’s pie – The Ploughman’s pie is a historically significant allusion to one of the greatest literary texts, “Piers The Plowman” which mentions a staple lunch of ploughman. The staple lunch comprises bread, cheese and beer. Contemporary spins on the same also add boiled eggs, ham or onions. Taking relevant ingredients from Ploughman’s lunch, ploughman’s pie is an innovation of its kind. Made of cheese and meat, this pie is an appetiser that serves all!
- Mini pork pies – What is better than regular pork pies? Mini serving pork pies! Size of a muffin or a cupcake, mini pork pies are the most ideal servings for a group of large numbers of people for a festive occasion. Following the same recipe as that of a regular pork pie, the serving can be manipulated by using different moulds of cupcake sizes.