Home All Things Food As Sweet as Pie

As Sweet as Pie

We love pies… big pies, small pies, shepherd’s pie, mince pie! Made with everything from apples to zucchinis, pies are a fun (and filling way) to indulge when you’re in the mood for something a little less healthy. Most popular in SA… the classic apple pie, lemon meringue pie and pecan pie. Yes please!

To tease your taste buds, the chefs at Capsicum Culinary Studio share a few fun pie facts and four recipes.

  • The first mention of a fruit pie in print is from Robert Green’s Arcadia (1590): “Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes.”
  • Oliver Cromwell banned the eating of pies in 1644, declaring it a pagan form of pleasure. For 16 years, pie-making and pie-eating went underground until the Restoration leaders lifted the ban in 1660.
  • The wealthy English were known for their “Surprise Pies” in which live creatures would pop out when the pie was cut open.
  • In the 1890s, the word pie was also a common slang expression meaning ‘easy’, hence the expression “easy as pie”.
  • The largest pie made weighed 10,540kg and was made by 17 catering students from Stratford-upon-Avon College in April 1998. It was so huge that it needed a container 9.75m long, 2.32m wide and 0.61m deep.
  • In early days the crust of the pie was known as a “coffyn” and there was usually more crust than filling. Because the pies were often made using fowl, their legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles.
  • The world’s most expensive pie is worth around R150,000 and can be ordered from the Lord Dudley Hotel in Sydney. Prime ingredients include two cuts of premium beef, two whole rock lobsters, rare winter black truffles, two bottles off Penfolds Grange Reserve and pastry with a 24 karat German gold leaf.


- Advertisement -

Best Apple Pie – courtesy Cape Town campus


2 sheets of puff pastry, chilled
7 to 8 Granny Smith apples
100g light brown sugar
100g white sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp corn-starch
1 tbsp butter
1 egg


Heat oven to 200°C. Peel apples then cut in half. Remove cores and slice apple halves into thin 6mm slices. Place apple slices into a large bowl. Scatter both sugars, salt and spices over the apples and toss them with your hands, coating them as much as possible. Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature. Roll out half of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface. The pastry should be about 3cm to 5cm larger than the pie dish you are using. Being careful not to stretch it, place the dough into the pie dish and trim any overhanging pastry to within 20mm of the edge of the dish. Refrigerate while you make the pie filling. Roll out the second half of pastry to a similar size as before and transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Keep this in the fridge until needed. Toss the apple slices with the corn-starch. Transfer the apples into the prepared bottom crust using your hands to really pack them down. Fill until the apple slices reach the edge of the pie crust. Pour the juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl over the apples. About ½-¾ cup will suffice. Cut a tablespoon of butter into 8 small pieces and dot them over the pie. For a double crust pie, place the second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips and lattice the top. If you are not adding a lattice crust but adding the top crust in one piece, use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to vent. Trim excess dough from the top crust or lattice strips and fold the overhang underneath itself, forming a thick rim. Press it together or crimp it with your fingers or use a fork. Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and use as an egg wash by lightly brushing the top crust to add shine and help the crust brown. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 75 minutes, rotating a few times for even browning. The pie is done when the juices are bubbling through the vents at the top crust or lattice. Use a skewer to test the apples and if they feel too crunchy bake for a little longer. Cool the pie, without slicing into it, for at least 1 hour as the filling does not fully thicken until completely cooled.


Banoffee Pie – courtesy, Nelson Mandela Bay campus


For the crust:
230g Tennis biscuits (or any plain biscuit)
¼ cup sugar
110g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
6 tbs unsalted butter
6 tbs brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
¼ tsp kosher salt
4 ripe bananas
1 cup double cream
2 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g milk chocolate


To make the pie crust: In the bowl of a food processor, blitz the biscuits until finely ground. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until you have moist crumbs. Place crumbs in a 23cm pie plate and press the crumbs firmly into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Freeze the pie crust for 15 minutes so the butter hardens.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

To make the filling: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar and stir occasionally, until the sugar dissolves (5 minutes). Pour in the condensed milk and heat until it starts to boil, thicken, and take on a little colour (7-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Pour into the biscuit crust and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover and chill in the fridge for at least two hours. Remove from fridge. Peel and slice the bananas and arrange on top of the filling. In the bowl, combine cream, caster sugar and vanilla and beat until medium peaks form. Spoon the cream on top of the bananas, then sprinkle over chocolate shavings. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lemon Meringue Pie – courtesy Rosebank campus


1 baked rich shortcrust pastry shell
3 eggs, separated
250g sweetened condensed milk
grated rind and juice of 3 lemons
5 tablespoons of caster sugar



Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Beat the egg yolks, lemon rind and lemon juice together until thick and creamy. Beat in the condensed milk and pour into the baked pastry shell. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg whites and the castor sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon the mixture over the lemon filling and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. Remove and let the pie cool completely before serving.

Pecan Pie – courtesy Durban campus

500g shortcrust pastry
75g butter, softened
100g golden caster sugar
175g golden syrup
175g maple syrup
3 eggs, beaten
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
300g pecan halves


Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a 23cm tart tin. Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Heat the oven to 190ºC. Line the pastry case with baking paper, fill with baking beans (or uncooked rice) and bake for 15-20 mins until the sides are set. Remove the beans and paper and return the tin to the oven for 5-10 mins until the pastry is golden and the base is set. Remove and leave to cool. Bump up the oven to 200ºC. Use an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and while still beating, pour in the golden and maple syrups. Gradually add the eggs, salt and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined. Stir in the pecans then pour the mixture into the tart case. Bake for 10 mins before turning the oven down to 160ºC and continue baking for 30-35 mins. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out and serving with whipped cream or ice cream.

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Artists – you could be the next winner in a leading art competition! 

There are just over two weeks to go until entries close for the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. Time is ticking fast so best you...

Love tea? Here’s why and how you should drink it

Ready-to-drink teas, functional teas and speciality teas come in all shapes, sizes and flavours. Then there‘s also tea-infused water, energy drinks, tea-based ice cream...

Ten industry leaders doing extraordinary things

Sweet-Orr has partnered with 10 South African industry leaders to showcase their talent and celebrate their inspiring stories. It’s a salute to the hardworking men...

Magic: The Gathering launches Streets of New Capenna

This year sees the much-anticipated launch of a brand-new set in Magic: The Gathering and a new urban setting in the multiverse. Called Streets...

Five different retirement personas … which one are you? 

Like many things that require a long-term outlook and commitment, many of us tend to put off retirement planning until it's sometimes too late.  While...
Want more exclusive content?

Sign up for our monthly newsletter