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Bride Pie

Adapted from The Experienced English Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald (1769)

Elizabeth Raffald's Bride Pie

The Bride Pie was the forerunner to the wedding cake (you can read more about both on this blog post I wrote for English Heritage recently). This is a somewhat subdued version compared to other recipes for nuptial bakes. Robert May, writing a century earlier, suggested including live birds, frogs or snakes in his recipe!

This is a pretty faithful reproduction of the original recipe. Raffald’s version uses calves feet but I have substituted beef shin which is much easier to prepare. I have also reduced her quantities. It still contains rather a lot of suet which I found rather greasy. If you did plan to make it yourself I would be inclined to reduce the weight of suet below by half again. The end result is basically a mince pie. Raffald instructs the reader to ‘put a glass ring in it’ but I will leave that up to you!


200g Beef shin in large pieces (off the bone) 1 tbsp veg oil ½ small onion stuck with one clove 1 small carrot 1 celery stick ½ star anise 1 small bay leaf 300ml water 110g suet 110g eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped small 110g currants 30g raisins ¼ tsp each ground cinnamon, nutmeg & mace 30g candied peel 1 tbsp brandy 30ml sparkling wine or champagne 250g puff pastry Beaten egg

A slice of bride pie

  1. Pre heat the oven to 150℃. Heat the vegetable oil over a medium to high heat then brown the beef shin. Place the onion, carrot, celery, star anise, bay leaf and water in a small casserole. Add the browned meat then cover and bake for 90 minutes turning the meat once half way through. Allow to cool then cut or shred the meat into small pieces. Keep the stock for another day.

  2. Mix the chopped, cooked meat with the remaining ingredients (except the pastry).

  3. Roll out just over half the pastry and use it to line a pie dish. Pile the filling into the pastry case and wet the edges with water. Roll the remaining pastry to form a lid pressing down to seal the sides. Trim off the excess and re-roll the off cuts. Cut out flower and leaf shapes to decorate the top of the pie. Brush with beaten egg then bake at 180℃ for 30-40 minutes or until the pie is golden and cooked through. Can be served hot or cold.

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