‘I believe I can pie!’ - Preparing for the Lincolnshire Pie Championship

The second Louth Pie Day is on the horizon (Wednesday April 15), and this year’s event includes the new Lincolnshire Pie Championship - where professionals and amateurs alike will be invited to show off their pie making talents.

Reporter's pie-making lesson at the Toadstool Cafe last week.

With that in mind (and putting myself very firmly in the ‘amateur’ category), I paid a visit to The Toadstool Cafe in Queen Street, where proprietor Marie Robinson taught me how to make her chicken, leek and cider pie - which won the people’s choice award at last year’s event.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never tried to make a pie before, and my cookery lesson was a real learning curve.

But, thanks to Marie’s guidance and saint-like patience, the end result was a pretty decent pie (even if I do say so myself) - although my attempt at crimping the pastry did leave it looking a little rough around the edges!

Reporter's pie-making lesson at the Toadstool Cafe last week.

The inclusion of the apple slices and cider added a sweet tang to the recipe, perfectly complementing the buttered leeks and fresh tasty chicken.

My advice to any fellow pie-making newbies would be to remember to be ‘flour up’ your rolling pin and work surface as much as possible... as I was lucky to avoid ending up with my pastry on the floor on several occasions!

Marie’s chicken, leek and cider pie came to life at the first Louth Pie Day last year, despite the fact that the cafe had not previously sold pies.

Since that day, the public vote-winning dish has become a staple on the menu at the Toadstool Cafe, alongside a variety of vegetarian and vegan pies and cakes.

Reporter's pie-making lesson at the Toadstool Cafe last week.

If you want to take part in this year’s pie championship, enter online (www.louthpieday.com) or visit the cafe and gift shop at St James’ Church.

The ten categories are: Meat Pie, Fowl Pie, Pork Pie, Traditional Pasty, Lemon Meringue Pie, Dessert Pie, Granny’s Favourite, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free.

If you just want to enjoy Louth Pie Day as a visitor, buy your tickets (£6) from one of dozens of shops in the town, from Hunts Travel in Alford, or online.

Full details can be found at www.louthpieday.com/tickets.

Reporter's pie-making lesson at the Toadstool Cafe last week.

• HOW TO MAKE THE FILLING FOR MARIE’S AWARD-WINNING PIE:

INGREDIENTS:

60g unsalted butter
60g plain flour
250ml dry cider
250ml full fat milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp crème fraîche
3 leeks, cut into rings
1 apple, sliced and peeled
500g cooked chicken (torn)
50g grated mature Cheddar
375g puff pastry
2 egg yolks, beaten with milk

Method (Filling only):

Reporter's pie-making lesson at the Toadstool Cafe last week.

1) Melt 40g butter and add flour to make roux. Add cider, ensure no lumps, then add milk. Stir.
2) Reduce heat to simmer. Stir in mustard, lemon juice and crème fraîche. Melt rest of butter in frying pan and gently fry leeks and apple for 5 mins. Add 2 tsp water, season, cover and cook for 8-10 mins until tender.
3) Add half the cheese to sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat and stir in apples and leeks. Cool and chill, and then stir chicken into the sauce. Place the mixture into pie dish (20-25cm). Sprinkle the remaining cheese and cool.
4) Heat oven to 200 °C. Roll pastry to thickness of 50p coin. Place pastry lid on top and crimp the edges. Make small slit in middle of pie, brush pastry lid with egg mix, and bake for 30-40 mins.