Other than Brexit, there’s nothing in the UK quite as decisive, or frankly as important as the perfect pie. Is it sweet? Is it savoury? Shortcrust or puff? To coincide with #BritishPieWeek we wanted to delve a little deeper into what the nation’s perfect pie might look like so we surveyed 2,000 UK adults for their opinions.
The first issue to take care off is the crust. The public opinion was quite clear- 66% feel, to be a pie, there should be pastry covering all 360 degrees of the filling. A sentiment felt strongest in Scotland where 71% opted for all over pastry casing.
But what should that fully casing crust be made from? Shortcrust pastry, puff pastry or something else?! The results here were a little closer but over half (55%) felt a true pie should be made from shortcrust pastry. The only exception was participants from Northern Ireland, where the majority (42%) opted for puff pastry.
This preference for a pastry crust may explain why 65% of the nation denounced a shepherd’s/cottage pie as ‘not a pie’…unless you’re in London where they’ve been more lenient on the potato topped imposter with 53% allowing it to bear the ‘pie’ name. The same compassion was shown by the 25-34-year olds, with 53% of them saying it was a pie.
Now we’ve sorted what’s on the outside, let’s look at the filling. One of the biggest question asked in the great pie debate is: should a pie be sweat or savoury? The answer? Both. 66% felt that whether sweet or savoury on the inside it could still be considered a pie, although there was a slight lean towards savoury (21% to 12%). Interestingly the 25-34-year-olds were swaying further to sweet (38%). There was also a regional preference for the sweetness with 32% opting for it- substantially more than any other region.
This preference for sweetness on the inside could be responsible for the mixed feelings towards dessert trolley favourite; the lemon meringue pie. Despite it not being covered in 360 degrees of crust, participants were split down the middle as to whether it classified as a pie or not, with 50% voting yes, 50% saying no. There was a direct difference of opinion when analysed by gender however. 53% of women said it qualified as a pie, but 57% of men said no. The data also showed age to be a factor in the fate of the lemon meringue. 2 age groups defied the others; both the 25-34-year-olds and 45-54-year-olds gave the lemon meringue the thumbs up for pie classification, whereas the other age groups, while close, opted for a no to pie-dom. London was again an anomaly in terms of opinion, with 62% giving the zesty dessert the thumbs up for ‘pie’.
So it looks like, when it comes to pies we’re pretty much all on the same page. 360 degree, shortcrust casing, with either a sweet or savoury filling. But what filling is the nation’s favourite. This is something that wasn’t quite so clear cut. The wine by a small margin of 1% was retro school dinner staple: steak and kidney (16%). This was followed very closely by steak and ale (15%). Third place was a tie- with chicken and mushroom and apple pie both getting 13% of the vote. Steak and kidney topped the male list with 21%, whereas women were fonder of an apple pie (16%).
Pie capital of the UK- the North East went their own way with their filling of choice, awarding mince beef and onion and mince beef and potato equally first places (17%). The south east also went their own way awarding chicken and mushroom equally first place with steak and kidney (17%). London couldn’t make up their mind giving a three way tie to mince beef and onion, mince beef and potato and chicken and mushroom (all scoring 16% of the vote).
Age also played a role in choosing pie fillings. Both youngest and oldest age groups (24-35, 55-64 and 65+) picked steak and kidney as the best (17% & 24% respectively). The majority of 25-34 age group opted for mince beef and potato (24%), whereas the majority (15%) of 34-44-year-olds opted for chicken and mushroom. The 45-54% were different again with steak and ale coming out top (20%).
So that’s it. The great pie debate in numbers for #BritishPieWeek. But whatever you are having inside that buttery pastry shell, just make sure you enjoy it. Calories don’t count when it’s topical, right?!