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Pie Club 2013

It's A Knockout

It's all change for Pie Club this year. We've ramped up the excitement by going for a straight knockout format - so there's 8 first round ties, followed by the quarter finals, semis and then the Grand Final. Check out the very scientific, and perfectly seeded tournament draw.

The sixteen finalists have been selected by applying a comprehensive formula, based on variables including but not limited to: historic performance, number of previous appearances, and likely availability.

Think Pie Club was already too frenzied? Think again. Bring on the pies!

Semi Final - M&S Classic vs M&S Luxury - 23rd Dec 2013
2005/06 winner M&S Classic faces 2004 champion M&S Luxury in the first Magic & Sparkle derby since Collection pipped Classic in the 2011 Grand Final. Classic has been imperious throughout this seasons renewal, earning a semi final berth with an impressive success against last years runner-up Sainsburys TTD. Luxury, meanwhile, was unconvincing against Asda before improving in the quarters to see off a plucky Sainsburys Deep. Classic has had the edge over their store rivals down the years but history wont count for anything at this stage of the competition.

Were back to the traditional best of three bites from hereon in.

After all, this is the Pie Offs.
Tee-total Boozer
Tee-total Boozer
M&S Classic M&S Luxury
The slit is still winding up the purists but thats really been the only change in years. Otherwise, this is very much a pie from the old school. Interesting that the Classics approach to ventilation should give folk the hump when this fella can turn up looking like a stab victim. A big star and more holes than a bowling ball.
Match Report
First Bites
Classic employs the same opening gambit to which it has been faithful for years. The pastrys short, butter sweetness lingers for a second or two before allowing the inner flavours to emerge, all orange tang and subtle spicing fronted up by bold clove. Luxury strikes back gamely as its pastry finally finds its feet to meet Classics butter hit head on before bringing a still-muted boozy warmth from the middle.

MSC 1, MSL 0

Second Bites
Luxury piles on the pressure with a filling that offers plenty of variation and quality despite being a touch low on quantity. Theres a pleasingly high nut content (allergies notwithstanding, obviously) that works well with some zingy candied peel to bring contrast to the chew. If Classics inner sanctum was your bog standard red box tackle, this contest would be over. But its not, is it?

MSC 2, MSL 0

Final Bites
Luxury doesnt know what to do. Though this has been their best performance of the competition by some way, its also been their stiffest test. Theyve not done much wrong - the outer casing has gone some way towards recapturing former glories and the filling has brought Christmas to our mouths. But Classics butter, orange and clove combination works magic on a filling that is unsurpassed in red box circles, and it really is all over.

MSC 3, MSL 0

Hardly a surprising outcome given such contrasting performances in the first two rounds. Despite plying us with alcohol and finding form at the right time, Luxury had no reply to Classics consistency and greater sense of identity.
And the winner is: M&S Classic

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Quarter Final - Asda Extra Special vs Lidl Luxury - 22nd Dec 2013
The last of our quarter finals sees surprise package Lidl up against reigning Pie Club champions Asda Extra Special. Asda strolled through their Round of 16 tie against a mediocre Tesco Deep Fill, while Lidl made light of their lack of top flight experience to send Morrisons Signature crashing out at the first flight. Todays clash represents another big test for the German raiders, but they showed enough in Round One to suggest there could be further heartbreak for Yorkshires bakers.
The Champ On the march
The Champ On the march
Asda Extra Special Lidl Luxury
Simple but effective with an unconvincing motif. Suffering ever so slightly from an untimely overbake. Not dissimilar to the opposition distinguishable by a healthier colour, some neat cogging and a superior star.
Match Report
Lidl gets off to a flyer, opening with a short and sweet snap of lid and following up with some understated butter and a mellow boozy warmth. AES is shaken by Lidls confident start and struggles to get on terms. The Asda bake has more butter but less crunch and the Germans variation of texture has them ahead after the opening bites. Innards are evenly matched, with both pies boasting a fine array of nuts and auxiliary fruits alongside some mid-sized currants and sultanas. Lidls brandy kick is more immediate against a gentle spice backdrop, while AES leads with low key cinnamon and ginger before bringing the warmth of port and brandy mid-chew. While its a clever ploy, its slightly undermined by the pies tendency towards oversweetness. Were talking very fine margins here - if time wasnt getting on, this tie may well have gone to extra pies - but Lidls better balance and their pastry work on the day sees them spring another surprise.
And the winner is: Lidl, then. Who knew?

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