Cake does have it’s moments, I’ll allow. The satisfying fullness of rich fruit cake, leavened with the sharpness of a slice of mature Cheddar. The ginger and treacle, sticky warmth of Yorkshire Parkin.
But, there is Madeira — so bland as to be eaten without noticing one has done so. Victoria sponge from which a niggardly baker has excluded the cream, leaving only a thin smear of jam to separate wedges of sponge; themselves so dry as to be fit for nothing except the base of a trifle.
The pie, however, does not find its apotheosis as dessert, but as main. Perfect short-crust pastry, the base blind-baked to avoid a ‘soggy bottom’, enveloping the tender meat and rich gravy of a steak and ale, or chicken and vegetable, pie, with mashed potatoes and more gravy, or with chips. The savoury taste and meaty texture of a Melton Mowbray pork pie — essential core of a summer picnic. The rib-sticking, comforting heartiness of the Cornish pasty.
Only one sweet pie will I stand up for; the mince pie. The individual mince pie, served warm, with clotted cream. The essence of Yuletide.