...mince pie mayhem
Never before has the pursuit of pastry distraction felt so important. With little to cheer in a stormy world of bullish nonsense, we can steady the ship and import joy to your desperate dockside (no offence meant).
Join us for the internet equivalent of drawing the curtains, popping on the Bagpuss boxset and settling down with a nice cup of tea. You are in a safe place here. The pies, however, had better watch out, Father Christmas is coming for you!
Sixteen pies start the season with high hopes (see our tournament draw), but only one will prevail. Ready the annals, 2017's dream is about to come true...
|Quarter Final - Marks & Spencer Classic vs Waitrose All Butter - 5th Dec 2017
The defending champion returns to action today, nearly a month after their first round triumph. Much has changed in the intervening weeks, particularly our attitude to confection innovation. Can M&S turn the style back on in a tournament that has openly embraced the weird and wonderful? Waitrose lurk, under the radar and the bed, hoping to surprise and delight in a manner inversely proportionate to the success of the John Lewis Monster.
As an aside, it now seems a stroke of real genius that the ‘Moz’ branded merchandise was made of insanely biodegradable cotton to avoid choking the landfill sites that he will be hiding under in 2018. Or have I imagined that?
|M&S Classic - classy lady?||Waitrose All Butter - all man?|
|Marks & Spencer Classic||Waitrose All Butter|
|Pie Club has contacted M&S for the background story to their intriguing sleeve. Amongst the many matters to be addressed, we hoped to learn more about the red granite work surface, the domino influence and the apparent nibble – akin to our own first bite regime. Going bare atop, the starry airhole is a brave move which gives a deep insight into the machinations beneath.||Unlike some companies that farm out their pie baking to The Highlands, Waitrose keep it hush hush on the box. The time-served tang from the box along with genuine shortbread credentials spell Walkers from beyond the wall. Hopefully, 2018 will be a year to address the monotone nature of their Waitrose1 livery.|
Crunch for crunch, Waitrose definitely have the edge in constructing a solid defensive outer. Their sparky crust inhales plenty of the fruity fug sitting within an unopened packet, affording more than simple biscuit notes. M&S may be a touch sweeter to deal with, but the engineering is not their strong point.
As attention turns to fuller portions, M&S begin to work through the gears. Sliding spices between clashing waves of stiffened sultanas and thick peel chunks, a spectacular burst of mulled splashes extinguish any fire of regret.
Taking greater girth of Waitrose proves only to continue the earlier tang theme, as their hearty inner has become so heavily infused that the peel, vine fruit and almond offer little distraction from the brandied pulp route.
M&S haven’t put this to bed yet, but Waitrose will need to showcase their range of ingredients to get back into the tie. Flash us a cherry at least guys.
|And the winner is: M&S Classic are not the stellar performer of 2016, but have edged into the semis. The sign of a true champion?|
|Quarter Final - Morrisons The Best vs M&S Luxury - 1st Dec 2017
A song as old as time enjoys a 2017 reprise, as the traditionally aspirational M&S Luxury rub up against Morrisons’ premium player. The teams contesting today’s Beauty and ‘The Best’ fixture have taken our crown in six of the previous nine seasons, and in our most recent history, M&S gained sweet revenge for their early 2014 exit by knocking out Morrisons in last year’s quarter finals.
History lesson over, it’s time for what one Iraqi critic describes as ‘hack project number 1’. We chose to interpret that as his valuation of our writing skills, and our premier status amongst similar struggling artisans. His seventy thousand attempts to guess our admin password is a mark of respect in the Arabian Peninsula, perhaps.
|Morrisons The Best – Pastry Trump||M&S Luxury – Listening to The Stones|
|Morrisons The Best||M&S Luxury|
|Since round one, The Good Housekeeping Institute have added their seal of approval to the box front. On cursory glance at their lightweight competition, it seems Morrisons The Best were not placed, but here we are, faced with the GHI badge and ‘Approved 2017’ stamped beneath. On closer inspection it appears that the badge was attached in sticker form post delivery. Rest assured, the mystery will be unravelled before the arrival of Santa. There’s a fella in Iraq who may be able to help.||Nothing from the ‘Housekeepers displayed by M&S despite them securing a runners up berth in the unholy Tried & Tested survey. The entries within their golden sleeve bear more than a passing resemblance to their waiting foe. Marks’ have gone for six points atop, MozBest only five, I wonder if that will be crucial. The top-droppers at M&S’ bakery appear to enjoy a sober working life, unlike the inaccurate Yorkshire production line, if their sloppy stars tell the tale.|
Deep powder derails the nibble of MozBest, leaving a cooling sensation after the crunch ebbs away, without a discernable flavour direction.
An immediate dollop of buttery biscuit snaps back from MSL, with plenty of that playful clementine in the roots. MSL are up for this.
MozBest will not be cowed and their strong cider comeback bears fruit, and brandy depth. Peel pops up once the paste thins, and anyone would be impressed by their authentic winter warmer of a filling.
MSL offer an interesting, if sideways take on the festivities. A drier, chewier vehicle emerges, unafraid to remind us that oranges and their affiliates have a place at our heaving table.
Very much like cousins at the family get together, there may be a striking likeness in their haircuts and jawline but their taste in music is very different, and deciding whose is best is the stuff of Boxing Day arguments up and down the country. Let Uncle Pie Club preside…
|And the winner is: M&S Luxury are playing our tune, and enjoying a twist on conventional delight really is our bag. This year. So far.|