The crazy shapes of 17th-century pies



This looks more to me like the kind of pastry-cut designs you’d bake onto a pie as an indicator as to what type of filling it was.
Are there any 17th century illustrations of these? Google doesn’t seem to turn up any.
I call shenanigans.


Imagine if Fray Bentos reintroduced these pies for general sale; it would be damned difficult to stack the cans at your local supermarket but they’d certainly be eye-catching.

Incidentally GoT fans, my s/o was at a recent comic-con and met an artist who worked on the production team. The artist was mates with Sean Bean and told her that, during filming, Sean requested a Fray Bentos pie and a few bottles of ale following a day’s shoot. You can take the man out of Yorkshire…


Topologically Delicious! (except for the carp pie :frowning: )

Finally an answer to the question: why pie are square(d)?

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Dude, is that figure or ground?

I don’t even know any more.

They were built in fancy, intricate shapes not so they could stand but because they could stand, and because they were purely for show. The dough was made pretty much like cement and was baked, often free standing, into thick, hard containers referred to as coffins in period. The pastry itself was not meant to be eaten, rather, it served as a serving dish and/or cooking vessel for the filling.


Which makes me wonder: what have been your serial hobbies? Sounds like you really do your research.


Ha! I study food history academically. As for the hobbies I’ve had over my lifetime, where do I even start??? :smile:


Perhaps you’d like to join the Ancient Recipes thread, then. There are a handful of BB regulars who engage in non-modern food production activities.


OOOOOHHH!!! start anytime, any place you want. It is simply a hobby for me, and I am always looking to learn more.

What are your thoughts on lamprey pies? The history of pate en croute? Juxstaposition of american vs British vs French pies?

(I get a little excited)

(And it doesn’t have to be just pies)


Yes yes yes. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but it may be presumed that the ‘crust as a serving vessel’ might have come from serving ware being so expensive, and labor (to make the crust) so cheap.

It was then transformed into a tradition, the crust still had to hold shape, but became tastier. Additionally the too up of aspic helps stabilize the pie, so you can have a less dense, hard crust. But with something like an eel lamprey pie that has a cream sauce, aspic simply wasn’t an option.

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I am totes gonna make a steak and kidney pie in the shape of a fish, and a cherry pie in the shape of a fish. And not tell anyone what they are.


I like @SerialHobbyistGirl. Seems like a Happy Mutant to me.


Hi all- I reckon these are shapes made on the top crust with a dusting of flour eg

This makes sense, until you realise the illustrations also feature those little…shape… thingies in the middle.


Absolutely. This technique just wasn’t generally used with lamprey.

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