Cook up a little history this British Pie Week with a 16th Century pie recipe…


There was noticeable quietness in the air. Birds tittered gently in the trees and in the distance I could hear pigs grunting and snuffling. The air was thick with calm.

I was spending a leisurely wintery Sunday wandering around the St Fagan’s Museum of Life. All around me the atmosphere was peaceful and saturated with bygone eras. Farmhouses that were dark and small were nevertheless enchanting; their crackling fires inviting us in. I felt a strong hankering for a simpler way of life; for times gone by when we were more connected to our landscape.


I had spent a little time in the mill, chatting happily to the museum worker there. The Melin Bompren Corn Mill is one of the last remaining working mills in Wales as is typical of a Cardiganshire water-driven mill, built to convert corn into flour. I found myself purchasing a bag of flour milled on-site. As I toddled off home I was eagerly planning what I would bake with my precious flour and consequently stumbled upon this 16th Century recipe, which leapt out to me with its strangeness. Decision made: I was going to bake myself an olde-worlde pie; the kind of which would have been found in 1556 (it does actually come from a cookbook of that year) and one that contained pears, Brie and eggs. Bizarre? I know! Apparently Charlemagne’s cheese of choice was Brie. So if it’s fit for royalty, it’s certainly fit for my pie.

The old recipe simply states: “Put in a pie crust some Brie cheese and hardboiled eggs, mashed together, with pears. And to this one takes sugar and whole egg yolks.” Sounds fairly straightforward – and it was. I made the dough in advance using a good old Delia recipe and the wholemeal flour. Don’t ask me why but because the pastry was little rustic looking and had that malty taste that accompanies wholemeal, it made the pie seem even more ancient. This is an odd concoction but on the whole it was not unpleasant. It could probably do with a little more moisture in the filling; perhaps even a little cheese sauce. I’ll leave it to you.

16th Century cheese pie 


Pastry dough (you can shop buy or make it yourself. I used Delia’s recipe)
A block of Brie
2 pears
3 hard boiled eggs
1tsp sugar
1 egg white

1. Roll out two thirds of your pastry and line a pastry dish. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Peel the pears, remove their cores and cut into slices. Peel the eggs and cut into wedges or rounds. Cut up the Brie into chunks with the rind on. Arrange the pear cheese and eggs on the dough and sprinkle the sugar over it.
3. Roll out the final third of your pastry and arrange it over your pie to form a lid. Press down the edges with a fork and a little water.
4. Use any leftover pastry to make your own decorations and then glaze with the egg white.
5. Bake the pie for 40 mins in the centre of the oven and then increase the heat to 220C for the last ten minutes (make sure that lid doesn’t burn). Serve in the pie dish with a goblet of wine.

As part of our British Pie Week celebrations, we’ve teamed up with Tom’s Pies to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a 12 delicious pies.  It’s drawing to a close, so get in quick. Here’s how to enter:

win tom's pie

Tom’s Pies are offering one lucky winner their very own ‘Pie Dinner Party’. Tom’s Pies, mash, minted peas and gravy will be delivered to the door ready to heat up and serve for up to twelve people!

So how do you win? Nominate whoever you think deserves this delicious treat to turn up at their front door. Easy! Family, friends, work colleagues, anyone! Email us your nomination as to why they deserve this perfect night in with friends or family in no more than fifty words to [email protected]. Who knows, you could be sat down for a pie feast before you know it!

Entries close at midnight on Sunday 8th March. The winner must be based in mainland UK to qualify. For full terms and conditions for entry please see the website.

Hankering for history? Come this way:
Divorced, beheaded, dined: Tudor banquets 
A traditional Welsh rarebit 
Historic Heston 

Emma Cullen

Emma is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker that has been released into the wild

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