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Butter Pie

Pies and Pastries

Individual double shortcrust pie, light baked, filled with thinly sliced potato with butter, salt and pepper, sometimes with a small admixture of cheese and/or onions.

It is generally taken that Butter Pies began as an alternative to meat pies for fast days in, predominantly Roman Catholic, Lancashire. To this day Lancashire has remained steadfastly Roman Catholic despite centuries of threats and pressure from Protestant England. Although the Lancastrian Palatinate was unified with England in 1399 it retained a degree of separate legal jurisdiction until 1972 with its gentry and aristocracy holding firm to the tradition of being a 'Separate Regality' to England and a certain disdain for London Laws, especially in matters of religion. And of pies. See: www.hslc.org.uk and Wikipedia, Recusancy

Although this dish is very well known we can find no written record of it before about 2006. Can you help? editor@foodsofengland.co.uk

Butter Pie
Image: www.bowenpies.co.uk

Original Receipt from Lancashire Life Magazine;

Serves four
For the pastry
225g/8oz Plain flour
50g/2oz Butter, salted or unsalted; you can adjust seasoning to taste at the table
50g/2oz Lard, vegetable fat, or dripping
A pinch of salt, if used, and white pepper
Ice cold water
For the filling
3 Large potatoes a King Edward/Maris Piper type
1 Large onion
50g/2oz Butter, plus 100g/4oz for softening the onions
1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the butter and lard (I tried with all butter and found this microwaved really well, about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on the wattage, for each quarter of a pie).
Using your fingertips, or a fork, incorporate in the butter until it resembles fine crumbs, then drizzle in just enough cold water to make the pastry form a ball, pop into a plastic bag, press out the air, and leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, peel the three large potatoes and the onion, cut the potato into thick slices, a little thicker than a pound coin, and the onion in to half rings. Parboil the potatoes until they are just soft but still holding their shape, about 8-10 minutes. Saute the onions, over a low heat, in the butter until soft, but not browned, as this will spoil the end flavour.
3. Roll out about two thirds of the pastry, to line a pie dish, and trim the edges.
4. Drain the potatoes, let the steam leave the pan, then, in the lined pie dish, layer the potatoes, onions and butter flakes, season with salt and white pepper and top off with the rolled remains of the pastry, 'stab'the top to make air vents.
5. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an until golden, and serve immediately, with pickled red cabbage.

Hairy Biker's Butter Pie with Mushroom Sauce and Spinach
Image: BBC

The song "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by the Lancastrian Paul McCartney includes the lines:
Admiral Halsey notified me,
He had to have a berth or he couldn't get to sea,
I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie,
(The butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie)

Butter Pies were formerly a half-time staple at Preston North End Football Club, leading to a significant kerfuffle in 2008 with stern letters to the 'Lancashire Evening Post' when the club's supplier went bust. Happily, another baker has since stepped in.

Friday Pie

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