British Pie Awards: “Why I aim high with my kebab cake”

  • By Helen McCarthy and Elise Chamberlain
  • BBC News

image source, Wm Fraser’s Butcher

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The results of this year’s award ceremony are to be announced


This year’s British Pie Awards are underway and with entries including bacon cheeseburgers and döner kebabs, the competition has never been more diverse, according to the judges.

In recent years, the awards have not been without controversy, after some surprising winners triumphed.

This year, organizers have noticed a trend for a variety of pies, which they’ve dubbed “fusion” – pies with fillings that would traditionally belong on a very different menu, like shawarma and bacon cheeseburgers.

With winners to be announced later, the BBC spoke to the producers behind them, who are hoping to get their share of the action.

Bacon Cheeseburger Pie

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Jay runs a street food business in Birmingham

Jay Jones, 33, is the owner of Pietanic, a street food company based in Birmingham.

“We host music festivals, football matches and other sporting events like Cheltenham and Aintree,” he said. “We started pop-up street food events nine years ago and it’s just grown from there.”

He said the shop specializes in pies because he believes they are an underrated British food.

“When we started, there were a lot of street food places that did burgers and hot dogs, but nobody that made pies,” he said. “But the possibilities are endless.”

Jay proved that with his bacon cheeseburger pie, which is made in his company’s prep department around town.

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Jay also sells his bacon cheeseburger pie in a burger bun

“It has all the elements of a bacon cheeseburger in a cake,” he said.

“We have ground beef on the bottom, then smoked bacon, tomatoes, mozzarella, cheddar, and a pickle on top. The pastry replaces the bun.

“When you have a bite you can see the layers.

“We took it for the first time at the Pie Awards last year and placed in the top three sports pies.

“People say, ‘What on earth is that?’ and then when you explain it, they say, ‘That makes perfect sense’.”

Italian style meatball cake

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Chef Mark Wilkinson made the cake in honor of his son’s favorite food

Mark Wilkinson was a chef for 20 years before founding The Treacle Town Pie Company in Macclesfield in 2009.

One of his contributions this year is the Italian-style meatball pie.

He created the cake in 2015 at the suggestion of his then seven-year-old son.

“He said ‘Dad – let’s make an unusual cake.’ I said ‘Right – what’s your favorite food?’ and that was spaghetti and meatballs,” he said.

“He is now 16 years old and still likes the cake.

“If you slit it open, you smell the tomato, the basil, you’ve got the little beef balls.

“When we wear it at the bakery it always sells out, which is fantastic.”

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The cake contains tomatoes, basil and beef balls

He said he attended the awards for the first time in 2014 and took gold for his steak and ale pie.

“We’re back this year to try it,” he said.

“You can put almost anything that fits together into a cake and it works.

“Personally, I’m not a cake person – I prefer sausage rolls. But I know how a cake should taste and I know all flavor combinations.”

Lasagna Pie

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Alexander Melling’s cakes honor his parents

Piemaker Alexander Melling has two entries in the competition that honor his family.

Alexander, who runs Wigan-based Baldy’s Pies, enters the Big Jim – a steak and onion pie – in memory of his father, who passed away a few years ago.

Meanwhile, Nearly As Good As Mama Joan’s Lasagna Pie is dedicated to “the rock of the family” — his mother.

He said the cake features his mother’s special tomato sauce with a blanched pasta sheet in the center.

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One of Alexander’s cakes – The Big Jim – commemorates his father

It also has a triple truffle cheese béchamel sauce, while replicating the crunchy bits on top of a lasagna with shavings of pasta sheets.

Alexander said Big Jim won bronze at the awards last year and he hopes to do even better this year.

“It feels like it’s meant to be because it’s Dad’s birthday this week,” he said.

Cake with game, mushrooms and dark chocolate

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Calum Nall said people loved the unusual flavors

Calum Nall is Chef at the Anne of Cleves Pub in Melton Mowbray, which is next to the church where the cake awards are given.

He said it was his team’s first attempt to enter his Hirsch in der Schwarzwaldtorte at the awards show, but he thought it might be unusual enough to win.

He said the cake’s flavors were inspired by the deer that inhabit the local landscape and their habitats and includes venison, redcurrants, mushrooms, juniper – and dark chocolate.

“We tried it in the pub and it worked – everyone loved it,” he said.

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The cake is like a Black Forest cake – with the addition of venison

“It tastes a bit like a Black Forest cake because you have the berries and the chocolate, but we added venison to turn it into a meat pie instead of a dessert.

“I think a cake can bring a family together. It just makes you happy when you cut into it and smell the flavors.”

Doner cake

image source, Wm Fraser’s Butcher

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Doner pies are starting to become a Scottish tradition, says William

William Hall runs WM Frasers Butchers in Stranraer, a business that has existed since 1887.

“It’s one of the oldest in Dumfries and Galloway – but I’ve been in the business for 14 years,” he said.

This year, William will submit a doner kebab cake to the awards show — a delicacy he says is gaining momentum north of the border.

“Doner kebab pies are becoming increasingly popular in Scotland – mainly around Glasgow,” he said.

“It’s basically a cake to go.

“Doner kebabs are one of the things you get as a snack after an evening trip.

“It has a Scottish tart shell – a rather crunchy, hard pastry – and it’s a tart that you can eat on the go, either hot or cold, whether at a football game or on your lunch break.”

He says his team makes the pastries and fillings on-site.

“It’s a shawarma lamb mixed with herbs and spices, with a sweet chilli glaze,” he added.

“It’s proved very popular here – we have people come especially for them and on one occasion they ate it in their car and then came right back to get another one.”

Bison Chili con Carne Pie

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Clare was inspired to create the cake by the presence of locally raised bison

Bison isn’t the only noticeable ingredient in Clare Read-O’Donnell’s cake.

It also includes coffee, cumin, and three layers of different types of chili.

She said, “It’s bison in a spicy bean sauce – the ultimate fast food without all the additives in it.”

Clare, who works as a chef, demonstrator and pie expert for Melton-based Brockleby’s Pies, said she was inspired by the presence of a bison farm in the nearby village of Nether Broughton to create the pie, named Ruffalo Buffalo.

“Bison is a really lean meat, similar to lamb, very healthy with a mild flavor,” she said.

“It’s quite a delicate flesh, so it’s fantastic at taking the heat shocks we put it through.

“We hope it goes down very well.”