Tui Flower shares a slice of bacon and egg pie history

By Sarah Harris

Tui Flower. Photo / Michelle Hyslop
Tui Flower. Photo / Michelle Hyslop

While Kiwi cooking icon Tui Flower has long retired her advice is still highly sought after.

Friends and aspiring food-writers often come to the 91-year-old for guidance on anything from their careers to cooking.

She was one of the few food writers working from the 1960s to the 1980s, for the New Zealand's Woman's Weekly and the Auckland Star . She published numerous cookbooks and her autobiography.

Now Flower is using her experience to reveal the history of the iconic Kiwi dish - the bacon and egg pie - to promote World Egg Day on October 14.

One of Tui Flower's cook books, published in the 1950s. PHOTO/Dean Purcell
One of Tui Flower's cook books, published in the 1950s. PHOTO/Dean Purcell

She is working with Eggs Incorporated, which is run by her long-time friend Vikki Lee Goode and promotes the many benefits of eating eggs.

Eggs Inc asked food historian and University of Otago professor Helen Leach to look into the bacon and egg pie's history in NZ.

Leach found the dish seemed to take hold here with a recipe found in The Wanganui Cookery Book's 1928 edition and made it's way into the Edmonds Cookbook in 1955.

The oldest recipe she found was in 1769 The Experienced English Housekeeper by businesswoman Elizabeth Raffald.

Leach thinks that while the name of the English 'egg and bacon pie' recipe may have flipped en route to New Zealand, the ingredients and cooking method have changed little in the centuries since.

"Somewhere along the way the title of the recipe has changed to 'bacon and egg' pie. The original Edmonds recipe is quite similar to Elizabeth's recipe though, with the addition of diced onion, an enclosed pastry case and the absence of a pint of cream."

Flower, who has used a fair few eggs in her lifetime, thinks the success of the bacon and egg pie is testament to the two ingredients marrying so well together.

"Bacon and eggs have been eaten for breakfast for generations. It's a taste people just enjoy."

But you've got to put love into the recipe or it won't turn out right, said Flower.

"If you don't want to cook you're the person that's going to sling a minimum of effort on the table at night."

"If you don't like doing it you may as well just buy it."

Flower said pies have been around for hundreds of years, but not as we know them. They evolved out of a time when there was no refrigeration. Putting food in a crust meant it kept longer and was more transportable.

The bacon and egg pie is a relatively modern adaption, Flower said. Her mother's recipe was very simple. She just lined the dish with pastry, cracked eggs into it followed by bits of bacon then closed up the top with another sheet of pastry. Now there's no limit to the variations.

The bacon and egg pie was usually made for a "special occasion" and was a favourite at family picnics, Flower said. She would beg her mum to make it for her school lunch without much success.

Cracking the eggs whole into the pie is a distinctly New Zealand version whereas British recipes advise whipping the egg mixture.

Cooking used to be simple and a lot of ingredients we take for granted weren't around in those days. Flower and her friends told how you had to have a prescription for heart problems to buy margarine and olive oil was found at the chemist.

*Eggs Incorporated will give away two My Pie prize kits which include a year's supply of eggs, a pie dish, tea towels and cooking utensils. Entrants need to send in their take on a bacon and egg pie to eggs.org.nz. Entries close on October 28. Winners will be chosen by random draw.

- NZ Herald

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