Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies - book review

This is a book that was published late in 2011, its the Hairy Bikers 'Perfect Pies' book (the Hairy Bikers are Simon King and Dave Myers in real life).  The 'boys' (they are men really!) currently have a regular weekly baking programme on TV, a new book about baking and are doing a round the UK signing the new book tour, they hit the north west this week!

'Perfect Pies' is quite a hefty volume with over 350 pages packed with all manner of savoury and sweet pie and other recipes; its described on the cover as a 'pie bible' and its not an unfair description at all. We like pies a lot in this household (it might be the childhood link to Wigan for one of us, who knows?) and I often make a huge pie (we are talking a big 'desperate Dan' pie affair) when catering for the wider family, as they do tend to go down really well. If you are having a bigger group round to eat, what everyone really wants (whatever the occasion may be Christmas, Easter or whenever?) is a made from scratch homemade full to bursting pie, trust me on this one!

So in my 'pie armoury' I have a few tried and trusted recipes that I often bake, as there are some well tested family favourites, my mince beef and onion pie, for example, is legendary (I'm not bragging it really is) I have never ever disclosed the recipe to anyone. But if you wanted to make one there is a recipe in this book thats not far off mine.

I have made quite a few recipes from this book to give it a bit of a test in my kitchen, and on the unsuspecting guinea pigs, but I have not tested nearly well enough as there are so many lovely recipes here to try. You could bake and cook all year round from this book and still not be tired of it! I made the meat and potato pie recipe first of all, as I was curious as to how ingredients such as tomato ketchup AND brown sauce could work together to help flavour a pie? But when I tried the recipe it worked really well, and 2 meat and potato pies were produced (one was frozen for later) and both were devoured along with the 'lovely home-made gravy' recipe on p302. Granted this meat and potato pie did not taste like the traditional 'Wigan meat and potato pies' of old, BUT it was a really nice recipe that worked and the result was good, the gravy is amazing and I have made it several times since.
I also tried the deep chicken and mushroom pie recipe, which was another success. So much so that I made this recipe twice, once as a large plate family size pie then again as individual pies.

'Perfect Pies' covers an extensive range of pie recipes and there really is a pie for every occasion or ingredient here. It is well illustrated with a great number of the recipes depicting a photograph of the recipe. This is the type of book you want to grab off the shelf when you are in the mood for a proper baking session, rather than looking for something quick to cook for tea. A lot of the pie recipes need the filling cooking ahead and before you then go on to make the pastry and finally assemble and then cook the pie. A lot of the fillings need to cool before assembly too. So in the main these are not quick fixes as such, but recipes that work and deliver in terms of taste and in respect of variety it wins hands down.

The chapters are divided into eleven areas...
double crust, handheld pies, top crust pies, open topped pies and tarts, plate pies, potato topped pies, party pies, raised and freeform pies, fancy pies and suet puds, sides salads and sauces, and leftovers.

The chapter on party pies looks at mini pies and tartlets and gives some fabulous inspiration for parties or buffet foods. I like the way the sweet pie versions are interspersed with the savoury recipes throughout this book. There are some amazing sweet pie recipes, from basics such as a baked egg custard tart through to a delicious looking pear and chocolate puff pie and just about every sweet pie configuration in-between.

There is a section towards the back of the book entitled 'the basics' which covers a lot about pie making, equipment and different pastries and the recipes for these. There are additional recipes in the 'sides, salads and sauces'  chapter that covers everything to accompany any manner of pie, from potato and vegetable dishes to homemade savoury sauces and gravies, and sweet custards and sauces. This chapter supports all the pie recipes really well.

Although the Hairy Bikers 'Perfect Pies' book is entitled as such it really is so much more than perfect pies. This is one of those books I will use for both basic and new pie recipes, it delivers on a number of savoury and sweet recipe fronts and to be honest if you have this on your bookshelf you'll be hard pushed to need to look any further for any pie recipe.

Orion are the publishers and sent me my copy of 'Perfect Pies' to review honestly, and with no recompense for this review, or ingredients I used at my own expense or with any expectation in terms of a positive review.


  1. Lovely pies, the hot ones are so comforting when the weather turns cold and the cold pies make you think of picnics.

  2. I love this book and use it often, this is a great review. Your pies look delicious too!!


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Susan x