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Fig Pie

Pies and Pastries

(or 'Fag-Pie')

Pie with figs, spices, treacle and other fruit, a traditional Mid-Lent or Mothering Sunday treat. Especially associated with the towns of Blackburn and Burnley in Lancashire, but also known in Nottinghamshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Occasionally referred to as 'Quick Step Pudding', on account of its laxative properties.

The Cheshire village of Wybunbury has held a Fig-Pie rolling competition from time-to-time as part of its Wakes festival.

Fig Pie Racing at Wybunbury, 2015
Image: http://www.crewechronicle.co.uk

Figs do not now normally ripen well in English summers. But they very commonly appear in old English receipts, suggesting perhaps, along with medlars and quinces and barberries, that the weather used to be sunnier than now. A pie with figs and apples is known from the very earliest English cookbook ...

Original Receipt in 'The Forme of Cury' by the Chief Master-Cook of King Richard II, c1390 (Cury 1390)

Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake wel.

Take good apples and good spices and figs and raisins and pears and when they are well softened, colour with saffron and put into a pastry case and bake it well]

Original Receipt in the 'Evening Telegraph' - Wednesday 22 April 1931

Fig Pie. This is a very old English pie and is very delicious. It may be made in many ways ; try this one: Grease plate an enamel or tin one is best line it with pastry, either short or flaky,-and spread it on, as you would mincemeat, the following filling: Take two ounces of white breadcrumbs, four ounces of chopped figs, the grated rind and juice of lemon, a sour apple, peeled, cored, and chopped, and little ground ginger. Mix these ingredients together with golden syrup that has been made liquid by heating. The mixture should be of the consistency of mincemeat.
Cover the tart with pastry and bake in a hot oven.

The Burnley News - Saturday 12 April 1924

Harland and Wilkinson's 'Lancashire Folk-Lore' of 1867 has; "Fig pies made of dry figs, sugar, treacle, spice &c and by some described as luscious by others as of a sickly taste, or as they are locally termed fag pies, are, or were at least till recently, eaten in Lancashire on a Sunday in Lent. Mid lent Sunday thence called Fag pie Sunday. In the neighbourhood of Burnley Fag Pie Sunday is the second Sunday before Easter, or that which comes between Mid lent and Palm Sunday. About Blackburn fig pies are always prepared for Mid lent Sunday and visits are usually made to friends houses in order to partake of the luxury."

Fig Pie Revival from wybunbury.org.uk

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