The upper crust of the baking industry descended on Courier country in a bid to be crowned the world’s best pie maker.
Around 75 of the best bakers and butchers from across the UK and beyond went to the ovens in an attempt to woo the judges at the 21st annual World Scotch Pie Championships, the judging for which took place in Dunfermline.
A team of 50 experts had the enviable task of eating their way through a staggering 459 pastry products spanning 11 categories including steak, macaroni, cold and hot savoury, vegetarian, haggis, apple and football pies, sausage rolls and bridies, with the ultimate accolade going to the best Scotch pie in the world.
From the colour and texture of the crust to the taste of the filling, it was a serious affair as the judges painstakingly scored each entry as contestants anxiously looked on.
Alasdair Smith, chief executive of hosts Scottish Bakers, said the championship had come of age and is regarded as the most prestigious pie competition in the world.
He said: “Today has shown once again that all the pie makers from Scotland and further afield who have taken the time to enter have excelled in the quality, innovation and passion they put into the products they produce for consumers.”
Head judge, Ian Nelson said: “How it looks and how it tastes are the two key factors but we also judge on the fullness of filling, the quality of the pastry and, of course, the evenness of the bake.
“No one wants a soggy bottom.
Joining the line up as guest judge was award winning stage and screen actor Scott Kyle, best known for his role in the hit Scottish film The Angel’s Share and television drama series Outlander, who admitted the Scotch pie had been a firm favourite since his childhood.
He said: “I love a Scotch pie and grew up eating them.
“As a kid I remember we used to get them after we came out of the swimming baths and it was always something we looked forward too.”
Scott said of the perfect pie: “I’m big on crust, it’s very important, crunchy and not too thick and then a Scotch pie filling has to be full with the use of good mince.
“We didn’t have much money as a kid so a pie had to be well filled.”
The winner will be announced on January 14.
OPINION: ‘The dream assignment’
As a self confessed pie lover, being dispatched to report on the 21st annual gathering for the World Scotch Pie Championship really did seem like the dream assignment.
But even with my pie eating credentials firmly in order, I hadn’t expected to be in a room with so many fantastic looking bakes.
I was surrounded by pie experts, master pie makers and, of course, hundreds of pies of all types.
459 to be exact!
This was serious baking of the highest quality that will result in one of the entrants being crowned the world’s best.
The sweet and the savoury smells wafting through the hall depending on where in the judging hall I stood, were incredible.
Fellow bakers paced the room eyeing up the competition as the teams of judges diligently worked through each and every plate.
It was fascinating to watch as the pies were prodded, sniffed, held up, cut open and then eaten by some very thoughtful looking judges.
And I have sympathy for the contestants as they’ll have to wait until the new year to learn if they were successful or not.
Their eyes are on the prize, while mine, I’m not ashamed to say, were firmly on the pies.