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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 09:02 GMT
Aiming high for the best Scotch pie
Scotch pie
The stuff of dreams and legends
Bakers and butchers are being asked to earn their crust as part of a search to find the premier Scotch pie.

Their best culinary creations have been put forward in the annual World Scotch Pie Championship.

A panel of judges from the Scotch Pie Club have tasted the entries and the winner will be announced at the end of the month.

First prize is a prestigious giant wooden pie which will be presented by ex-Dunfermline FC manager Jim Leishman.

Last year's accolade was picked up by Alan Devlin, from Auchterarder in Perthshire.

He sells his award-winning produce at the Sugar and Spice bakery he runs with his wife Ann in the town's high street.

Mr Devlin only started making the traditional Scots savouries in 2001 but in three scant years he has reached a definite conclusion as to what makes a champion pie.

"I go for the meatiness of a pie," he said. "There's a lot of good Scotch pies out there but I look for them to be meaty - not sloppy and not rusky.

"It's also got to be nice cold as well as hot.

Alan Devlin World Scotch Pie champion 2004
Alan Devlin, the reigning champion with his trophy

"That's the secret to a good pie - if it's good cold it'll be good hot.

"But that's not always the case - sometimes a pie that's good cold is not that nice hot."

Traditionally, the Scotch pie is made with mutton but today, the preferred ingredient is beef and more modern flavours such as curry and Thai have started sneaking in between the pastry.

Millions of Scotch pies are sold each year with a reputed one in three football fans picking one up on their respective terraces as they watch their teams each weekend.

Growing reputation

It is hardly surprising then that the competition has grown and grown each year and there are even a couple of entries from England making it to the table this time round.

The competition was started by baker-cum-butcher Alan Stuart, who runs Stuart's of Buckhaven - "six generations of bakers since 1857" - in Fife.

He founded the Scotch Pie Club in 1996 to improve the image of the traditional Scotch pie and membership is open to anyone who makes them, no matter where they hail from.

The other basic rules members have to abide by include:

  • Helping to raise the public membership awareness and knowledge of the pie

  • Commit to using only quality-assured meats in their products

  • Giving value for money

  • Encouraging the public to enjoy a Scotch pie at least once a week

  • Helping to run and take part in the annual World Scotch Pie Championship.

Despite what people might think, the competition does have a serious side. It aims to improve the image of meat products in the wake of the BSE and E coli scares.

This year's 70 participants and their pies were judged by a panel of pie experts in the space of a day.

The west coast producers tend to go for a paler fired pie whilst here on the east coast of Scotland we can afford to keep ours in a bit longer and turn out a nice golden-brown pie
Alan Stuart
Scotch Pie Club

As founder of both pie club and competition, Mr Stuart directed the judging panel but deciding on a championship pie is not without its difficulties.

"First of all, it has to look nice," he explained. "It has to have a nice golden-brown appearance.

"Having said that, we then get into the controversy between the east coast and west coast pies.

"The west coast producers tend to go for a paler fired pie whilst here on the east coast of Scotland we can afford to keep ours in a bit longer and turn out a nice golden-brown pie.

"Obviously, the most important thing is the filling and now 85 to 95% of our producers use beef in their pies.

'Subtle flavour'

"The secret then is the seasoning and that's the one part of the recipe that nobody will divulge.

"The seasoning is what gives it its special taste, its subtle flavour."

The winner is due to be announced on 30 November.

From there the upper crust of the pie-making world will descend on Dunfermline Football Club, where Jim Leishman will hand over the trophy to the champion.

Some of your comments appear below.

No question in my book - Fisher and Donaldsons of Cupar, and St Andrews, win hands down. While you're there - try the 'Bean and Tottie'. Magic!!
Chris Gray, Crook of Devon, Scotland

A Killie pie, ye cannae beat it. Undoubtedly the best pies in the world. Well done Brownings, keep it up.
Gordon Smith, Perth, Scotland

The best Scotch pie I have had must be the Wallaces pie. It has lovely thick pastry and loads of meat. Another reason for visiting Dundee
Cat, London

We are very fortunate here in Beith as not only do we have the best football pie (made by Irvin's of Beith) but we also have the best football team... Beith juniors - probably!
Maurice Irvine, Beith

The best Scotch pie was from Lightbody's bakers in Hamilton. It has been a few years since I have had one as I no longer live in Hamilton and I am unsure if Lightbody's is still on the go!!
James Wilson, Hamilton

In Scotland I have to recommend Oliphant the bakers pies in Linlithgow and also Mathiesons the bakers in Falkirk both are excellent. Now in Florida we get a great meat pie from Camerons Market in Fort Meyers and they ship all over the USA.
Alison Millar, Jacksonville Florida USA

"Cossars" in Musselburgh High Street produce the world's finest haggis pie.
Jamie Dickson, Hong Kong

Donald Galbraith of Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran, makes great pies. They are just right - freshly made, not overspiced, not fatty, good hot or cold, crisp thin pastry, tasty meat and a fair price served with cheerfulness and sympathy for the customer's enthusiasm.
Ian McKinlay, Salford, Manchester

Stop talking about pies please. I'm stuck here in Washington, and would kill for an Aulds of Greenock pie. They are the best hot or cold.
Hugh Scholte, Moses Lake, WA, USA

The best Scotch pie is Downies in Peterhead, just the right crunch and texture. I do miss them living in England for the last seven years.
Armando Becci, Worksop, Notts

The best pie by far and wide is the now world famous 'Killie Pie'. But getting harder to find away from Rugby Park. Not many to be found in North Ayrshire
Dougie Morgan, Saltcoats

Pehs at St Johnstone FC are THE best ever !
Jingsy, Montrose

Born and brought up in Dundee, I'm unashamedly fond of a 'Wallace's peh'. That is the benchmark for any piemaker to aspire to.
Andy Martin, Heathfield, East Sussex

They dinnae hae ony pies here. It´s aa fancy continental stuff. Ah`d gie a lot fur wan right noo. Aye it`s hard bein' an expat.
Ina Gilchrist, Giessen Germany

As heard at Forthbank Stadium, home of Stirling Albion:
'Come to Forthbank,
Don't be shy,
You'll get a Bovril
and You'll get a Pie!'
Mike Giggler, Somewhere, UK

Greggs the Bakers do it for me with their Scotch pies.
Mags, Edinburgh

I used to love a good mutton pie when I lived in Dunning. I still remember that nice pepper taste and the pastry, droollll. I don't know if I could still eat them now but good thoughts about them. I wonder if they still make them in Dunning.
Frank Machon, Motueka, New Zealand

A pie and a pint is a mouth-watering image from my many years in Edinburgh. Here we have a lovely spot that produces a good hearty Scotch meat pie and also makes haggis available every week of the year. Black pudding is not yet on the menu.
Robert Emeny, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

At a Scottish festival here, they sold Scottish pies. Even though they were $4 a go, I couldn't help myself from having two at once. Definitely not as good as an original, but sometimes you have to make do with what you've got.
Stuart Adamson, Alameda CA, ex-Scotland

You will not find a Scotch pie to beat the quality of Donald Galbraith at Blackwaterfoot on the Isle of Arran. Superb and generous filling, wonderful seasoning, a total delight. Scotch pie suppliers should offer a mail order service to enlighten those that are denied the pleasure
Robin McKinlay, Croydon. UK

All I can say is that the frozen Scotch pies that I buy at my local supermarket are pretty dammed good. Even my cultured Quebecois friends think they are better than the local equivalent 'La Tortière'
Ashley Watson, Quebec City, Quebec

I would have to say I used to love Wallace's pies from Dundee, but Goodfellows and Stephens make a Scotch pie with potato and beans on the top. Unusual, and some may say sacrilege, but I say delicious!
Simon Miller, Belfast

I was brought up on Browning's pies. They are every bit as good today as they were 40 years ago - for me the best pie in Scotland or should that be the world?
Bobby, Kilmarnock

Being an ex-pat from Lanarkshire and unable to get either decent haggis or Scotch pies here, I started to make my own about 18yrs ago. There is a large lamb abattoir just north of Denver, so the essential ingredients are all available. I now make approx 300lbs of haggis a year. For pies, I short-cut the pie-crust making process by using empanadas (a Hispanic pastry crust of water, lard and salt) readily available here, and fill w the haggis. Not traditional, but the best I can do!!!
John Shields, Denver, Colorado USA

Whenever I'm in Perth I always make a bee-line for the Jimmy Laing's Bakery on the High Street. Always quality ingredients and served with a smile - I challenge anyone to find a more tasty Scotch pie particularly with lovely gravy that runs over your chin!
Charles Luke, London

On the west coast it has to be Aulds of Greenock, fantastic pie, always has been. When I worked in Fife many years ago the local pies came from Pillans, they were good, are they still on the go?
Graeme Mackinnon, Kirn, Argyll

I was recently through west for the football and have to agree with John Gall from Ayrshire - "The Killie Pie" certainly does it for me!!!!
Paul Long, Edinburgh, Scotland

I'm a 'Well fan but luckily my best mate over here is a Killie fan who introduced me to the Killie Pie which is the best pie ever. I run a Scottish pub over here so any baker please send us ex-pats a pie or two and we'll judge for ourselves. Oh whit a treat that wid be!
Nev, Valkenburg, Netherlands

Brownings the Bakers from Kilmarnock who make the famous award winning football pie "The Killie Pie" also make a superb Scotch pie. The best of Scotch beef with just the correct amount of seasoning makes it number one with me.
John Gall, Galston Ayrshire

The best pies in the world are still sold at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock. We won the best football pie award a couple of years back and they are still as good as ever. Good enough reason to go to the football at the weekend if you ask me!
Danny, Kilmarnock

Without question the delicious blend of the finest Scotch beef and paradisiac gravy, encased in a delicate golden crust, makes Brownings the Bakers of Kilmarnock, producers of the world's greatest pie.
David Woodison, Edinburgh

I have travelled all over Scotland and must have eaten a pie in at least 100 Scottish towns of which I could give you a list of the best pies in many of these towns. West coast pies are definately better as they are fired more. This gives the "crunch" factor that all good pies must have. It is no use being able to "sook" into a soft underdone pie with your falsers and these pies tend to be covered in flour which ends up all over your clothes. Moisture is the key factor, moist enough to slide down gently but not so wet that it squirts out down your tie as you are driving away from the baker's. Spice is another major factor although it must not overpower. After all that though it is a bit like our whisky, there is no such thing as a bad Scotch pie, only some are better than others.
Joe Macleman, Lossiemouth, Scotland

"Charley Barley" (Charles Macleod, Butcher, Stornoway) pies are best, just like their black puddings. No doubt about it!
Bob, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

The bestest pie in the whole wide world - buy one at Bain's Butchers, Stenhouse Cross, Edinburgh. Never tasted anything like them.
Susan Symington, Edinburgh, Scotland

We can now get good Haggis here (canned from Chicago) but I've yet to find a good Scotch pie!
Peter Smith, Cary, North Carolina,

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