|63154. Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:28 pm
What goes into a Denby Dale pie? I’ll give you ten points for every ingredient you get right, and a hundred point bonus if you get them all.
Two sheep and twenty fowl. Or I’d have accepted seven hares, fourteen rabbits, four pheasants, four partridges, four grouse, two ducks, two geese, two turkeys, two guinea fowl, four hens, six pigeons, sixty-three “small birds,” five sheep, a calf and 100 lbs of cow. There was a bonus available for “a fox,” but sadly none of you got that, so I’ll take it home with me.
Today, Denby Dale pies are world famous - at least in Yorkshire - but the first ever giant pie baked in Denby, which lies between Huddersfield and Barnsley, was made in 1788 for a special occasion: to celebrate George III’s recovery from mental illness. Whoopee! Street party! The king ain’t bonkers no more!
In 1815, Denby baked a Victory Pie to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo: it contained two sheep and twenty fowl. The crust used half a peck of flour. Which is a peck of a lot.
In 1846, they began to think big: to celebrate the repeal of the Corn Laws a pie was baked in a dish 7 foot in diameter. It contained seven hares, fourteen rabbits, four pheasants, four partridges, four grouse, two ducks, two geese, two turkeys, two guinea fowl, four hens, six pigeon, sixty-three “small birds,” five sheep, a calf and 100 lbs of cow. Unfortunately the platform supporting it collapsed and the pie broke into pieces - which the 15,000-strong crowd fell upon and devoured.
In 1887, for the Golden Jubilee, they got in professional bakers from Halifax - and soon wished they hadn't. The 8’ 3” diameter, one and a half ton pie turned out to have gone off and had to be buried, with due ceremony and following a funeral procession, in some nearby woods in quick lime. Poor hygiene and a brace of gamy grouse were blamed (as well as what appeared to be a skinned fox). To mark this sad event, Denby Dale villagers produced black-bordered funeral cards, and within a week had come up with a new pie, named the Resurrection Pie. No game has ever been used in Denby Dale pies since that day.
There have been 10 Denby Dale pies altogether, each bigger than its predecessor.
In 1928, a pie was baked to raise funds for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. A new tin was built measuring 16ft. long, 5ft. wide and 15 inches deep. In 1964, to raise funds to build a new community hall in the village, Denby created The Village Hall Pie, in a tin measuring 18ft. long, 6ft. wide and 18 inches deep. Many people thought that the baking of the pie should also commemorate a national event and after much thought, arrived at the perfect answer. Four royal babies were expected in the same year for the first time in 200 years. The babies were Prince Edward, Lady Helen Windsor, Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones and James Ogilvy.
1988 saw the baking of the ninth pie, The Denby Dale Bicentenary Pie, 200 years after the first recorded pie. It was baked in a tin measuring 20ft. long, 7ft. wide and 18 inches deep. The “national event” being commemorated here was, it seems, the 200th anniversary of the first Denby pie ...
In 2000, the Millennium Pie coincided with the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the Penistone Railway Line, which gave Denby Dale its most famous landmark, the viaduct. The pie dish for the 40ft long Millennium Pie itself weighed 12 tonnes; it was built by the School of Engineering at the University of Huddersfield. The pie was blessed by the Bishop of Wakefield and cut by cricket umpire Dickie Bird. They were lucky to get him; he’s usually so shy and retiring.
Dwarves (leaping out of pies).
Possibly, a Denby pie.
‘How it all began in the pantry’ by Maurice Baren (Michael O’Mara, 2000).