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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!

Quarter Final - M&S Classic vs Sainsburys Taste the Difference - 22nd Dec 2013
For many years, these two were performing at opposite ends of the pie spectrum. As recently as 2010, the pair was separated by a massive 21 points in the final standings. Then, in 2011, there was a shift in power. STTD finished a single point behind MSC, missing the Pie Offs on Pie Factor by the narrowest of margins in the closest finish in Pie Club history. Last year saw the unthinkable as STTD bridged a two-point gap regular season gap to beat MSC in the semis before finding it all too much against Asda ES at the big dance.

Make no mistake - this one matters.
Pie Club legend Anglo-Scottish collaboration
Pie Club legend Anglo-Scottish collaboration
M&S Classic Sainsburys Taste the Difference
Neat and tidy and very self-assured, wearing the now-familiar slit as its sole distinguishing mark. Pale to the extreme, with single central airhole and anti-clockwise cogging. Brutal.
Match Report
The Scottish influence at play here gives STTD a definite edge in terms of stature, and the challenging opening bite isnt without reward. This pastry has echoes of the M&S Connoisseur of a few years ago and, while it falls some way short of hitting those dizzy heights, the quickfire combination of crisp and yield remains an effective one.
While STTD took years of tweaking to hit its stride, MSCs pastry boffins hit upon their winning formula some time ago, and its to their credit that their tinkering has been restricted to ventilation. As ever, Magic & Sparkle make good on their all-butter promise and remain deliciously short without compromising the architectural values required to make it through a busy festive campaign intact.
On the inside, STTD has travelled a long way in just a few small steps. Drop by painstaking drop, the fig roll desolation of old became gradually more palatable until those customers who carry out the much-vaunted taste-testing at HQ were able to chew and swallow in the same sitting. Its still an acquired taste, mind, but we like its boozy, grown-up feel.
MSC, as one might expect, takes a more traditional approach, and the more prevalent ooze serves to allow its constituent parts more room for expression. There are cherries and nuts and big vine fruits and candied peel and a big hit of clove that shouldnt work nearly as well as it does. This is a pie that knows is business and, while STTD might work for self-congratulatory beardy types, the MSC can please a crowd on every level.
And the winner is: Good work from the STTD team, but the Classics renaissance continues apace.

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Quarter Final - Sainsburys Deep vs M&S Luxury - 21st Dec 2013
The second of todays quarter finals sees another over-achieving red boxer line up for a tilt at the Magic & Sparkle windmill. Sainsburys Deep made light of first round seepage to knock out 2012 semi-finalist Tesco Finest and, with M&S Luxury making heavy weather of seeing off Mr bloody Kipling, the underdogs will fancy their chances of an unlikely place in the last four.
Prole Bourgeois
Prole Bourgeois
Sainsburys Deep M&S Luxury
They had blight issues in the last round but theyve turned out a flawless representative for this one. May have over-compensated for big match nerves by going big on ventilation
Match Report
First contact with the underdog screams rudimentary until the filling joins in to lend some citrus cheek to proceedings. MSLs opening is understandably tentative given earlier travails, and the pastry remains unconvincing. Theres butter and a bit of crunch, but the authoritative introduction weve come to expect just isnt quite here.
With orange oil very much in the vanguard, Sainsbury follows up with a subtle spice palette that relies on caraway and clove to bring Christmas. MSL hits back with an improved showing from its core - a two-pronged booze attack carries the fight, but glace cherry and orange peel work hard with cinnamon to sprinkle some stardust over the two-banks-of-four vine fruits.

A pleasing performance from another out-of-depth red boxer, then, but quality and experience at this level can make all the difference.
And the winner is: Luxury makes it two from two on the day for the M&S behemoth, with Pie Club legend The Classic still to come.

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