Ever since someone first shouted ‘Who ate all the pies?’ at a fat kid, pies have had a bad rep. But I can tell you, obsessive salad-munchers, that this noble foodstuff has a long and illustrious history. Did you know the first pies can be found etched on the tomb walls of Pharaoh Ramesses II? Yes, that’s right. So I can add ‘proper respect for pies’ to the Egyptians’ other achievements, and somehow that seems even more impressive than awe-inspiring stone masonry or keeping Brendan Fraser gainfully employed for nine years.

I love pies – I had one most days for lunch during my secondary school career, to put my dedication into perspective – and I just got Angela Boggiano’s amazing pie recipe book I’ve been dying to test out. Savoury pies are my especial weakness, but since this blog is called Cakery Bakery, I reluctantly turned to the dessert section instead. And oh, what riches lay within. After deliberation, I decided on the treacle pie, because a) the other ones I wanted to do were chocolate-based, like almost all my baking; and b) the filling involved very few ingredients, so I could give the stress-making pastry my full attention.

Actually, it wasn’t too bad. The trick is using two parts flour to one part fat, says Ms Boggiano, and using half butter and half lard for the fat. (You can also use vegetable shortening if you’re squeamish about lard, but I can’t really be squeamish about anything required for Yorkshire puddings.) You rub in the butter and lard – hand-cramp alert – and then add enough water to combine. I don’t think I added quite enough water, because my pastry wasn’t massively keen on staying in one lump, or being rolled out and put into a pie dish, for that matter. But I got there in the end, and my gaping holes were fairly easy to patch up once the dish was covered.

The filling took almost no thought at all: it’s just warmed-up golden syrup combined with breadcrumbs (which I crumbled in my food mixer, with okay-ish results) and the juice of a lemon. Rather excitingly, you then cover the filling with twisty spirals of pastry in a lattice shape. Not only is this much easier than rolling out another pastry lid, it makes the pie look instantly fancy regardless of your pastry skills.

Even when your spirals are wonky. Honest.

And after barely half an hour in the oven, it was done. Angela recommends eating it while still warm, and, remembering the austerity Christmas pudding, I assumed that this was because the breadcrumbs would go hard when cold. In a brave spirit of enquiry, I had a piece cold this morning to test my theory. I was wrong, though – it’s perfectly edible, if slightly chewier (like thicker treacle). When warm, it’s heavenly. Custard would be an excellent accompaniment, though I think in this instance cream would be even better.

In a few minutes, the answer to 'Who ate all the pies?' will be 'me'.

Deliciousness: Incredibly good, considering how little time and effort it takes (if you bought ready-made shortcrust pastry it would be even quicker, of course). It’s gooey, dribbly and sweet without being cloying.

Complexity: The hardest part was the pastry, and even that was doable for an amateur.

Washing-up pile: Ten items.

Casualties: Only my attention, occasionally, as I listened to a thrilling PD James murder mystery while baking. I think I’ll always associate treacle tart with mysterious death from now on, which is somewhat unfortunate.

PS – Apologies for the scarcity of photographs this week. The Other Half has taken himself and his excellent camera off on a Highland Adventure, and there’s a reason we stopped using our other one.

PPS – the Romans’ favourite pie was called… wait for it… Placenta. Appetizing, eh?

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