British people just love pies. Be it sweet or savoury, short crust or puff pastry, for lunch, dinner or even breakfast – there is a pie to suit every mood and occasion.
So it’s no surprise that this week on the Great British Bake off, the contestants were faced with challenges of the pie variety.
Sadly, there was no return of Iain despite the campaigns following Alaska-gate and once Mel and Sue had informed the remaining contestants that Diane had left the competition due to an illness; they were off onto the first pie challenge: a custard tart. This was followed by the technical challenge set by Paul Hollywood this week, a rather bizarre poached pear wrapped in rough puff pastry and finally, the show stopper challenge which saw the contestants having to make a three tier pie-strosity! Not everyone was able to rise to the challenges though, and *spoiler alert* it was Norman who had to hang up his apron for good, with Kate being awarded this week’s star baker.
Not all of us, myself included, are as skilled as (most of) the Bake Off contests when it comes to pie making and instead buy our pastry based treats from the supermarket rather than deal with a dreaded soggy bottom should we dare attempt our own!
But how many of you out there know how the pies we buy in store are made? Anybody? Didn’t think so. Don’t worry though, I’ll fill you in
It may surprise you that rather than being lovingly made by a kitchen full of WI-type women, the pies we buy are made in factories filled with hundreds of people and all sorts of special machines, sometimes operating for 24 hours a day to keep up with the British public’s pie demand – shocking I know!
Let’s start at the beginning. Every pie has two basic components: the pastry and the filling. The raw ingredients are brought to the factories every day by the truck load and then the magic can begin.
Both the pastry and the filling are made in industrial sized mixers. After all, it would be pretty exhausting to mix tonnes of pastry by hand everyday!
Next comes the assembly. The pastry is rolled out and cut to size on one conveyor before moving onto another where the various delicious fillings are added using depositors. By filling the pies using depositors, manufacturers can fill multiple pies at once and ensure that the same amount of filling is used each time. After all, nobody wants a chicken pie minus the chicken!
Another conveyor takes the pies off to the ovens where they are baked until the pastry is a beautiful golden brown and there are no soggy bottoms in sight (something which some of the Bake Off contestants seemed to struggle with!)
Once cooled, the pies travel along a packing conveyor. Here, they are given the all-important final inspection to make sure they meet the high standards we expect before being wrapped up by some very clever machines.
Before long they sent off to stores up and down the country, ready waiting next time we get a craving for some delicious flaky pastry. Next time you’re tucking into that store bought sausage roll for your lunch, have a thought about all the processes that go into making your lunch time treat!