I had great plans for this blog about butter pie. I even had alternate plans in case the butter pie thing didn't fly. No go.

I've wanted to try butter pie for years, ever since Paul McCartney mentioned it in the song Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. A few years ago, I actually went to Lancashire, England, the home of butter pie, but unfortunately, I forgot about butter pie until we were leaving Lancashire. Dumb, completely dumb, but I was totally absorbed in visiting friends and historic sites and such, and getting to try mushy peas (absolute heaven if you're a pea freak like me). Now I'm writing a historical with a heroine from Lancashire, and there's a kitchen scene where she's baking…

No, not butter pie. She's doing treacle tart, Harry Potter's fave dessert, because it's not a mealtime scene, and she's a lady and wouldn't be likely to make a meal anyway. She's stretching it being in the kitchen at all. She and various other characters are drinking cafĂ©-au-lait and discussing the French Revolution, and butter pie just didn't work. Still, my heroine and her pastry reminded me about butter pie, so I thought I'd finally make it myself… maybe mention it in this story or another… post about it on a blog.

Butter pie, as I understand it, is a potato and onion pie and a Lancashire specialty. It was or is commonly eaten on Fridays when Catholics don't eat meat. Well... I'm something of a pastry freak. I'll eat almost anything if it's enclosed in pastry, and since I also love potatoes and butter, and onions go with everything… I thought, perfect!

Recipes for butter pie seem to be few and far between, so I glanced over the only one I could find and altered it to suit my tastes and what I had in my pantry.

It didn't work. It was edible, but not very good. My fault, probably, for altering before trying the original, but I was in a hurry. It needed a lot of Worcestershire Sauce or HP Sauce or ketchup to make it tolerable. A little sauce, I'm fine with. A lot means there's a problem. I'm not posting the recipe today, and I'm going to try again. And again until I get it right, even if I have to go back to Lancashire and find a cook who knows how to make fabulous butter pie. Oh, the sacrifices one has to make!

The backup plan was to make treacle tart, but apparently I need golden syrup, which my local supermarket doesn't carry. I know where to look, but I haven't had time. So scratch that idea, too.

Bottom line: here's a recipe for Cranberry Bread with my usual notes and options:

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (you can use all-purpose if you want)
1 c. brown sugar (you can use white if you must)
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt (or a little less)
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 cup soft butter
Rind of an orange, grated. About a teaspoon is right, unless you love the bitter orange flavor. Lemon rind is okay, too. Or you can skip the rind thing entirely.
3/4 cup orange juice. I've also used grape juice or a combo of grape and orange.
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries. I think dried cranberries or raisins would do, but I haven't tried them. You might have to adjust the liquid a little, because fresh cranberries contain some juice.
½ cup chopped walnuts or other nuts

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the butter until blended. Mix the peel/juice/egg together and add to the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix. Add the cranberries and nuts. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about one hour. It slices better if you let it cool for several hours.

Onward to butter pie!

17 comments

  1. Mary Ricksen // August 2, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

    I'll be waiting to get the recipe for butter pie. It just sounds like it's great. Butter-pie, Mmmmmm.
    I tried a pie I had never had before I moved to the South, and I was shocked. Up North I'd never had buttermilk pie. But darn these Southerners have some good food!

  2. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 2, 2009 at 2:34 PM  

    Barbara, I know exactly what you mean about forgetting to try the butter pie! When I travel, I try to make a list of the things I was to see, try or buy in each place, otherwise I'll get caught up in just being there and forget the whole deal! We look forward to the butter pie when you get it perfected. Will try the Cranberry bread in the meanwhile! I taught my granddaughter to make egg custard pies this last week. She did an excellent job! Going to make a quite good Southern Cook! Today is her birthday, she's 10!

  3. Barbara Monajem // August 2, 2009 at 3:25 PM  

    Mary - mmm, yes. Buttermilk pie is wonderful. I've never tried making it, though.

  4. Barbara Monajem // August 2, 2009 at 3:26 PM  

    Scarlet - I've never tried making egg custard pies either, although I have a great recipe for banana cream pie, which includes a custard. Maybe for next time, unless I get the butter pie working...

  5. Mary Marvella // August 2, 2009 at 6:25 PM  

    Barbara, I was laughing out loud! I so understand about forgetting things and about adapting a recipe for ingredients you have in your cabinets! Some of my best and worst dishes started like that.

    the cranberry bread sounds yummy!

  6. Beth Trissel // August 2, 2009 at 8:00 PM  

    Yummmmmm. Sound great. I've been baking today too, but my experiment didn't turn out quite as expected. I made one too many substitutions in my banana bread and ended up having to slice the still somewhat gooey pieces and frying them up in a pan. Not bad. Kind of like fritters.

  7. Barbara Monajem // August 2, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

    Mary - Some of my best and worst have happened that way, too. My favorite experiments are soups...

  8. Barbara Monajem // August 2, 2009 at 8:44 PM  

    Beth - I made banana bread yesterday. Usually, I put overripe bananas in the freezer and keep them until I'm ready to make the bread. I usually thaw more than I'll need in case one of them doesn't look too good when I peel it, so often I end up putting in more banana than the recipe calls for. Yesterday's batch has a few too many squishy lumps of banana in it, but it still tastes good.

  9. Pamela Varnado // August 2, 2009 at 11:25 PM  

    Sounds yummy,
    Like you I'll eat anything wrapped in a pastry crust so this receipe is for me. And since my grandsons are leaving on Tuesday (I'm so sad) I'll have more time to bake.

  10. Judy // August 3, 2009 at 7:18 AM  

    Now you've got me intrigued. Butter pie. I'd never heard of it!Wonder if Epicurious has anything like it. Thanks for all the info... Gotta go look it up!

  11. Toni V.S. // August 3, 2009 at 11:45 AM  

    Both butter pie and cranberry bread sound good! Though butter pie sounds a little like the bubble and squeak a handsome Englishman served me a couple of Christmases ago.

  12. Nightingale // August 3, 2009 at 11:49 AM  

    Yummy. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Barbara Monajem // August 3, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

    Oh, Pam, I'm sorry your grandkids are leaving... but think of it as an opportunity to go jaunting off to foreign parts to visit them!!

  14. Barbara Monajem // August 3, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

    Judy - I had a hard time finding anything about butter pie, and from what I've heard since from a few people, it's rather bland.... So maybe I didn't do so badly after all. I'm thinking of trying scalloped potatoes as the filling.

  15. Barbara Monajem // August 3, 2009 at 12:12 PM  

    Toni - The bubble and squeak probably tasted better than my butter pie!

    Nightingale - Yummy indeed, at least the cranberry bread.

  16. Linsey Lanier // August 3, 2009 at 3:04 PM  

    Barbara,
    I think I gained 5 pounds reading this post! That's some yummy-sounding cooking. Potatoes and onions. Mmm. Alas, I'm trying to stick to a lo-carb diet. I'm also from the North, so I'm culinary-challenged. Never heard of golden syrup, but it sounds deliciously decadent. I see a historical cookbook in your future....
    Linsey

  17. Joanne // August 3, 2009 at 6:11 PM  

    Butter pie. Just the name sounds fattening and delicious.