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The History of the Butter Pie – Celebrating British Pie Week 2019

To celebrate British Pie Week 2019, we wanted to delve into the fascinating history of one of Northern Britain’s most famous and delicious pastry-encased treats, the Butter Pie.

An iconic dish in the historic boundaries of Lancashire, including Preston, Chorley, Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan and many more, this tasty pie has a past as rich as its filling!

Whether you’re a Butter Pie eating regular or you’ve only just found out about this rich buttery goodness, learn a bit more about this regional delicacy and make the most of British Pie Week 2019.

What is a Butter Pie?

butter pie history - Preston
Credit: Michelle Minnaar | Source: www.michelleminnaar.com | www.greedygourmet.com

Butter Pie is a savoury pie, usually about 4″ in diameter with a thick and crispy pastry crust, made with butter and baked until golden brown. This delicious case holds a filling of chunky potato slices and soft onion, at a ratio of about 3:1, enriched with butter and seasoned with salt and lots of pepper.

Sometimes served with sharp and fruity red cabbage or a pickled walnut, the Butter Pie may sound simple, but the best things usually are! In some parts of Lancashire, this delicious treat is also served on a savoury barm cake.

The ultimate comfort food that has become a staple half-time snack at Preston North End football games, this hearty pie is an institution in our city and will be for years to come!

A Rich History

Known by some as the Catholic Pie or Friday Pie, this age-old dish has been around for centuries and has become synonymous with Lancashire, in particular Preston.

The county was, and is, an area with a large Catholic population. In the 19th century, the number of Roman Catholics in Lancashire was swelled by Irish immigrants and the county held out against the Reformation.

Preston used to be known as Priest Town, due to its high population of Catholics.¬†Butter Pie was originally created by Catholics who didn’t eat meat on Fridays for religious reasons. They chose to substitute their beef with butter and the rest is history!

butter pie
Source: Shutterstock

The British Butter Board was founded in 1947 and was the original source of the modern incarnation of the Butter Pie recipe. Over the years, the Butter Pie has grown in popularity and from 2006 it was even included in the annual Wigan Pie Eating Championship in the vegetarian category.

This dish is also mentioned in the Paul McCartney song “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, which contains the lyrics, “I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie”.

Today, the humble Butter Pie is a Lancashire classic, served in football grounds, pubs and in family homes across the county.

The Perfect Match Day Snack

Everyone knows that on match day, the ideal snack is a hot and steaming pie made fresh that day. And at Preston North End, it’s no different. Some would even say that a Butter Pie is integral during a trip to Deepdale!

Throughout the year, Butter Pie was the traditional half-time snack that many football fans enjoyed at Deepdale Stadium. However, to the dismay of Prestonians, in 2007, the providers Ashworth Foods LTD suddenly ceased trading.

With the new providers, Holland’s Pies not offering a Butter Pie, two Preston North End fans started a campaign on Facebook calling for the return of Butter Pies to the match day menu.

dDeepdale stadium butter pie
Deepdale Stadium | Source: Wikicommons

After a number of years campaigning and an ever-growing demand for the favourite half-time snack, the Butter Pie made its return to Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium in 2010.

That’s how much the Butter Pie means to Prestonians!

Make Your Own!

In the mood for some baking? Why not have a go at making your very own Butter Pie with this tried and tested recipe and really make the most of British Pie Week 2019. Don’t forget to tag us in your pie pictures @shanklypreston and we’ll rate your pies!

Ingredients for the pastry
225g/8oz Plain flour
50g/2oz Butter (Either salted or unsalted)
50g/2oz Lard (Dripping or vegetable fat can also be used)
A pinch of salt, and white pepper
Cold water

Ingredients for the filling
3 Large potatoes
1 Large onion
150g/6oz Butter (Reserve 100g/4oz to soften the onions)

Method
1. Make sure the butter is soft then sift the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in butter and lard.
2. Work the ingredients together until it resembles fine crumbs, using either your fingers or a fork, add cold water to make the pastry form a ball.
3. Place the pastry into a plastic bag, pressing out the air, then leave to rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
4. While the pastry is resting, peel and cut the onion and potatoes into thick slices. Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes or until soft. Over a low heat saute the onion in butter until soft.
5. Roll out two thirds of the pastry and line the pie dish, then trim the edges off
6. Drain the potatoes, then layer with the onions and butter flakes, season, then top with the remaining pastry – don’t forget to use a knife to cut a few holes in the top.
7. Pop into the oven, 180C for half an hour until golden.

Pies have always been a favourite in Preston and Lancashire as a whole. Whether it’s meat, potato, vegetable or butter, a pie is the perfect hearty meal that will get you through the chilly weather.¬†They’re what pasties are to those in the West Country: practical, easy dinners that provide a substantial fill for cheap!

preston lancashire
The Carriage Bar and Restaurant

There’s not long to wait until The Shankly Hotel in Preston opens its doors and we’ll certainly be selling a delicious pie or two on our menus. Shankly was a big fan of pies, hence the famous Shankly pies and so we couldn’t not include a delicious take on these pastry treats in our new restaurant The Carriage. Check our social media pages for the most recent updates, news and offers on the hotel. We look forward to seeing you very soon!

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