Select Page

National Pie Day + Recipes

National Pie Day + Recipes

National Pie Day – celebrated every year on January 23 – is a glorious opportunity to indulge in the one dish that everyone loves – the Pie! Whether it’s a sweet, fruit-filled pie or a savoury meat-filled one, no pie should be left out during this annual foodie celebration that pays tribute to the perfect pastry! I do love a garage pie and of recently I have started making my own at home using leftovers.From meat to veg to simple cheese pies they save time and money not forgetting perfect for packed lunches.

Tinned Fish Pie

National Pie Day was started in the US in the mid ’70s by Charlie Papazian, a nuclear engineer from Colorado in the US, who had a penchant for pies, and decided to celebrate the pleasurable pastry with its own day and so chose his own birth date on which to do it!


Historians trace the pie’s initial origins to the Greeks, who are thought to be the originators of the pastry shell which they made by combining water and flour. The wealthy Romans used many kinds of meats and even mussels and other types of seafood in their pies, while in medieval England, they were most often filled with beef, lamb, wild duck or pigeon and spiced with pepper, currants or dates. It was only later that pies began to have sweet fillings. A cookbook from 1796 listed only three types of sweet pies, while one written in the late 1880s featured eight varieties. By 1947 the Modern Encyclopaedia of Cooking listed 65 different sweet pies and today there are literally hundreds of recipes available.



Pies today are made with everything from apples to zucchinis. The most popular sweet ones amongst South Africans include the classic apple pie as well as lemon meringue pies and pecan pies, while savoury favourites are pepper steak, chicken and mushroom and steak and kidney. Pies also come in the form of quiches, tarts, big pies or small pies and even dishes like a shepherd’s pie, a cottage pie or a favourite of the festive season – the mince pie!

We asked the talented chefs from Capsicum Culinary Studio for their favourite pie recipes and here’s what they sent us …

Steak and Kidney Pie

For the base
300g puff pastry
1 egg and 1 extra egg yolk beaten together

For the filling
2 tbsp vegetable oil
700g braising steak, diced
200g lamb kidney, diced
2 medium onions, diced
30g plain flour
850ml beef stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 220ºC. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the beef. Set aside, then brown the kidneys in the same pan. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, then return the beef to the pan, sprinkle flour over and coat the meat and onions. Add the stock to the pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down and simmer for 1½ hours without a lid. If the liquid evaporates, add more stock. When the meat is tender, remove from the heat and add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce then stir and allow to cool completely. Once cooled. place the cooked meat mixture into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry to 5mm thick and 5cm larger than the dish you are using. Using the rolling pin, lift the pastry and place it over the top of the pie dish then trim and crimp the edges. Brush the surface with the beaten egg mixture and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden-brown. Serve immediately.

unbaked pies

Chicken & Mushroom Pie

1 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken thigh fillets cut into 3cm cubes
500g punnets mushrooms, thickly sliced
50g butter
35g plain flour
1½ tsp mixed spice
500ml milk
1 cup frozen peas
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper, to season

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and for 5 minutes until browned, then remove from the pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms, cook until golden then remove and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium. Melt the butter in the pan, then stir in the flour and mixed spice. Cook for 1 minute before gradually whisking in the milk until thickened slightly. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan and season to taste. Cook until sauce thickens (about 2 mins) then transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Remove the pastry sheets from the fridge and cut each sheet in half and place one on top of the other. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry out to a 4mm-thick rectangle that fits the size of a rectangular 1.5- to 2 litre baking dish. Stir the frozen peas through the pie filling mixture to combine then transfer to the baking dish. Place the pastry over the top to cover, pressing down on the edges with a fork to seal in the filling. Make a small cross-incision in the centre of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Brush the egg yolk over the surface of the pie then bake for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Serve immediately.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

500g flaky pastry
7 to 8 Granny Smith apples
100g light brown sugar
100g white sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
1 egg

Heat oven to 200°C. Peel, core and slice apples into thin slices. Place slices into a large bowl and scatter both sugars, salt and spices over the apples and toss, coating the slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature. Roll out half of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Check for the correct size by inverting the pie dish over the dough, which should be about 3cm to 5cm larger than the dish. Place the dough into the pie dish and trim the overhanging dough to within 20mm of the edge of the dish and refrigerate.
Roll out the second half of the pastry to a similar size as before and transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate. Toss the apples with the corn starch then transfer them into the prepared bottom crust using your hands to pack them down into the pie. Fill the pie until apples are at the same height as the edge of the pie crust. Pour the juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl over the apples. Cut a tablespoon of butter into 8 or so small pieces and dot them over the pie. Place the second pastry round over the filling or cut it into strips and lattice the top. If you are not adding a lattice crust but adding the top crust in one piece, use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to vent. Trim excess pastry from the top crust or lattice strips and fold the overhang underneath itself, forming a thick rim. Press together or crimp it with your fingers or use a fork. Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and lightly brush the top crust. Place into oven and bake for 75 minutes, rotating after 35 minutes for even browning.
The apple pie will be done when the juices are bubbling through the vents of the top crust or lattice. Be sure to cool the pie, without slicing into it, for at least 1 hour, preferably longer as the filling does not fully thicken until completely cooled. For best results, cool the pie to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge for an hour or two before serving.

Lemon Meringue Pie

375g pack sweet shortcrust pastry
50g cornflour
175g caster sugar
3 lemons, zested and juiced (you will need 100ml juice)
275ml milk
80g unsalted butter, diced
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg

For the meringue
3 large egg whites
150g golden caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dust a work surface with flour, then roll the pastry out large enough to line a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Leave the excess pastry overhanging and prick the base with a fork. Chill for 20 mins until firm. Put the tin onto a baking sheet, line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans (or uncooked rice) and bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper then bake for a further 15 mins or until golden. When cool, trim the edges with a serrated knife. For the filling, combine the cornflour, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a saucepan and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, then cook over a low heat, whisking all the time, until the mixture thickens and boils. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, followed by the yolks and the whole egg. Set aside. For the meringue, add the egg whites to a large, clean bowl and mix with an electric hand whisk until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a third at a time until thick and shiny. Whisk in the cornflour until combined.
Bring the lemon filling back to the boil and stir until thickened, then pour it into the pastry case and level the surface. Spoon on the meringue, starting at the edge and working it into the middle. Use a palette knife to make a smooth join with the pastry edge, then swirl the top. Bake for 20 mins until golden. Allow to cool in the tin for at least 1 hour, then turn out and serve.

For those a little more adventurous and keen to try something different, here’s a recipe for Pastilla which is a popular chicken pie in Morocco.


1 package phyllo pastry cut in half
3 large chicken thighs trimmed
2 large onions diced
5 tbsp butter melted
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp saffron
½ tsp coriander
1 cup parsley chopped
2 cups sliced almonds
6 eggs whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup icing sugar

Pre-heat oven to 200ºC. Sauté onions and garlic in a large bowl on medium heat with olive oil until golden. Add chicken thighs, cinnamon stick, saffron, turmeric, coriander, ginger and salt and pepper. Stir everything together. Add water to cover then turn down the heat and simmer on low-medium, covered, for about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Lightly toast the almond slices in a pan and add them to a food processor with ¼ cup icing and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Pulse until it resembles a coarse sand and set aside. When the chicken is cooked from pot, shred, add another ½ teaspoon of turmeric and set aside. Let remaining ingredients in the pot cook on medium heat, uncovered until reduced by about half. Add whisked eggs and cook, stirring frequently until it resembles a thick paste. Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Now bring all components to the counter (melted butter, shredded chicken, egg/onion mixture, cinnamon sugar almond mixture, and sheets of phyllo dough). Place about 8 half-sheets of phyllo pastry in a small oven-proof bowl, lightly brushing with butter between every 2 layers, letting the layers extend out of the bowl. Add a small layer of chicken to the phyllo-covered bowl, then fold over 2 of the phyllo dough sheets to cover the chicken. Lightly brush with butter. Add a layer of onion/egg mixture, fold over another 2 sheets, and brush with oil. Add a layer of almonds, drizzle over some butter, and wrap the remaining phyllo sheets to cover everything and fold tightly, brushing over a small final layer of butter. Repeat these steps with remaining ingredients depending on how many pastillas you want to make. Cook pastillas for 15 minutes, then carefully remove them from their containers, and put them back in the bowls upside-down, brush with butter and place back in oven for another 10-15 minutes until phyllo is crispy on top. When cooked through, remove from oven, take out of their containers and sprinkle the tops with icing sugar before serving.

I hope you celebrate National Pie Day ,it is OK to have a pie.


Much love



About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: