History of pies timeline – a recreating of pies past, and a creation of pies future

Following on from yesterday’s post outlining the history of pies, today we are publishing a timeline with links to current pie recipes, together with some ‘new age’ pies for the future. (image attribution: Yvon Fruneau).

6000 BC – meat crostata

Some historians, loosely interpreting cave drawings, say that the history of pies began back in the Neolithic age – around 6000 BC. The main subjects of these cave drawings were large animals and risky hunting scenes. These people didn’t have cooking pots so whatever grain-based container would have been free-form…. The very first pie might have been a sort of meat galette.

You could try:

Courgette crostata – OK, I know there’s no meat in this, but you will get the no-cooking-pot idea

courgette crostata recipe

A neolithic meat pie for a hungry young man…. and everybody else

meat pie recipe

Madame Benoit’s tourtière

tourtiere recipe

2000 BC – chicken pies

history of pies
King of Ur, drinking his beer… waiting for his chicken pie…

The first recorded pie is seen in wall paintings at Sumer, dating back to 2000 BC. This was a chicken pie. Beer was what they drank in those days so the pairing for this would be a local craft beer.

You could try:

Claridge’s chicken pie (with its own history)

claridges chicken pie recipe
claridges’ illustrious chicken pie


Seville-inspired chicken pie with an integrated amuse-bouche.

chicken pie recipe
Seville-inspired chicken pie with an integrated amuse-bouche

1200 BC – pies with honey

ramses ii the father of pies
Mummy of Ramesses II, the father of pies

The next pie turns up in about 1200 BC in ancient Egypt courtesy of Ramses II. This was a grain-based pastry topped with honey.

You could try:

Treacle pie

Shoefly pie

400-300 BC – pies with honey and nuts

Next up were the ancient Greeks in 400-300 BC when Aristophanes refers to honey and nut pies in a couple of his plays.

You could try:


Pecan pie

160 BC – cheesecakes and fish and seafood pies

history of pies
Could she be bringing in a pie?

Then, in about 160 BC according the Cato the Elder, the Romans were serving up both a kind of cheesecake; and also pies containing fish and seafood.

Dan Hargreaves’ useful cheats’ cheesecake

Dan Hargreave's useful cheesecake recipe

Prawn and heart of palm pie

Salmon and asparagus en croute

salmon and asparagus en croute recipe

fabulous flavourful fish pie for shameless cheats

larder tuna pie

tuna pie with crisp topping recipe

1429 – game pies, sealed pies in hot-water crust pastry

history of pies
In this painting by Jan Brueghel I and Peter Paul Rubens you can see various pies with birds, or simply identifying feathers, on top to identify the contents.

Then in 1429, at Henry VI’s coronation, we have game pies cooked in ‘coffyns’. In those days they liked being very fancy so they also enjoyed pies with smaller animals used to stuff larger ones.

You could try:

Universally convenient meat pie with history

hot water crust pastry

Chicken and ham pie

chicken and ham pie recipe

1095-1492 – pies from the middle east, meat and dried fruit

history of pies
Crusaders conquering Constantinople in the twelfth century – knowledge of mince pies travelled back with them across the sea.

In the meantime (1095-1492) the Crusaders brought back from the middle east the concept of making pies which mixed meat with dried fruit. This was the origin of our Christmas mince pies.

You could try:
Mince pies

mince pie recipe

Luscious and lovely filo pie

filo lamb pie recipe

Cretan carnivale pork pie

minced pie recipe

Fruity chorizo cobbler

fruity chorizo cobbler recipe

Post 1500 – fruit pies, apple and cherry…. marmalade

history of pies
A kitchen in the 1580s painted by Vincenzo Campi

Then, post 1500 the concept of the fruit pie began to take off. Queen Elizabeth I especially liked orangeado pie, filled with apple and an early type of marmalade. Recipes for fruit pies appear in The Netherlands and in Germany.

You could try:

What to Do With Poire Williams tart

williamine tart recipe
williamine tart

Apple pie in Amsterdam

recipe for Dutch apple pie
The vanilla whipped cream is essential – don’t leave it out!

Cherry tart with a surprise ingredient, tahini

cherry tart recipe

Caramel bramble crumble

blackberry crumble recipe

Classic tarte Tatin

tarte tatin
It’s better than sex

Portable pasties and quiches – post 1500

history of pies
Illustration from the fifteenth century The Hunting Book of Gaston Phoebus

Sailors in particular had enjoyed the convenience of pies. The sealed meat pie already mentioned would keep for weeks. But pies were also convenient for those working in the fields and mines – the Cornish pasty is the best example of this. The first written reference to a Cornish pasty is a document currently housed at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, written in the sixteenth century, which refers to ‘Itm for the cooke is labor to make the pasties 10d’. The fact that the rope-like ‘handle’ was disposable was literally a life-saver. Miners’ hands were often laden with arsenic-laden dust.

Pies were convenient too for those enjoying themselves too, for example, to take on a hunting expedition, or even just a picnic. Quiche originated in the middle ages in Lothringia (now known as Lorraine, and part of France; but at the time governed by Saxon dukes – the word comes from the German kuchen, ‘to cook’.

You could try:

Cornish pasties – go to The Daring Gourmet blog for a great post and recipe for this.

cornish pasty recipe

Spanish empanadillas (as sort of mini Cornish pasty)

empanadillas recipe

Petite pies for picnics – with a chicken and apple filling

apple and chicken pies recipe

Universal quiche

how to make a quiche


recipe for a light cheese quiche

1200 – 1604 – development of puff pastry

There’s evidence (an anonymous Andalusian cook book published in the 13th century) that Arabs brought the concept of puff pastry to Spain early on, but certainly a quite detailed recipe was included in Domingo Hernández de Maceras’ Libro del Arte de Cozina, published in 1604. Puff pastry was further developed by Marie-Antoine Carême in the early nineteenth century to become the millefeuille.

You could try:

Bacon and onion feuilleté

feuilleté jambon fromage
feuilleté jambon fromage

Gorgeous gorgonzola millefeuille

gorgonzola millefeuille recipe
gorgeous gorgonzola millefeuille

1620 – pies emigrate to north America, the onus moves to sweet pies

history of pies

Then pies emigrated. They accompanied the Pilgrim Fathers to north America in 1620. With the development of the sugar plantations in the south, Americans developed a sweet tooth, and the majority of pies are now sweet. In 1881 Mrs Fisher, an ex-slave published a recipe for a coconut pie. Traditional Thanksgiving pies have fillings of apple, pumpkin and sweet potatoes…. Not to mention the quintessential American fruit, the cranberry.

You could try:

Coconut and pineapple flower pie

coconut and pineapple pie recipe

Christmassy cranberry and mandarin pies with pecan and white chocolate pastry

cranberry pie recipe

1788 – pies head for down under

In 1788 the first convict ship set sail for Australia… and the convicts took pies with them. Meat was a treat, so pies in Australia are mostly savoury.

You could try:

Steak and ale pie

1791 – potato challenges pastry

history of pies

Around 1791 the idea of topping using anything other than pastry with a pie began to take hold. Comforting pies with a potato topping were popular and have never looked back.

You could try:

Minty shepherd’s pie

recipe for shepherd's pie

Duckkeeper’s pie

duck confit pie

Gnocchi pie with ham hock and peas

gnocchi pie recipe

The future of pies

food and drink trends 2017

What about the future of pies? Our eating habits are changing, and pies are developing the keep pace with the trends. More vegetables and less red meat is becoming the rule for fillings; whilst the carbohydrate crust, whether top, or bottom, or all-enveloping, is becoming less calorie-heavy.

You could try:

Chicken, cauliflower and sweetcorn pie with a crunchy courgette crust

chicken and cauliflower pie with a courgette topping
chicken and cauliflower pie with a courgette topping

New age fish, smoked oyster and broccoli pie with a salty breadcrumb crust

new age fish pie

Cutting edge cauliflower pastry pie with spinach and salmon

cauliflower pastry base
cauliflower pastry base

Formula 1 pea tart

history of pies

Taco-topped tomato pie

taco topped tomatoed pie recipe

Savory tarte Tatin

savoury tarte Tatin recipe
It looks amazing – but it’s not difficult

Herby shallot crumble

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