When I was a boy, one of the exciting things at the lunch table on the farm was to have a pie and to see the pie elephant’s trunk sticking out of the middle surrounded by pastry leaves which my mother painstakingly made from the remnants of the pastry after putting the pastry lid onto the pie. The pastry recipe came from Mrs Norton, a formidable Stellenbosch lady, who was a family friend. I remember my mother used to keep little bottles of Van Riebeeck sparkling water because Mrs Norton said it ‘makes the pastry lighter”. The water came from a spring on a nearby farm which was owned by a lady called Alexandra Gordon-Hogg and it was shipped into the old Schweppes factory at Albion Spring in Rondebosch.
Mrs Norton’s pastry was a legend in our house and was used mainly for my mother’s two best pies, an old fashioned chicken pie and one made from cape gooseberries which grew prodigiously on a hedge in our large vegetable and fruit garden. I long for that flavour of the crisp pastry, the sourness of the poached gooseberries and the lusciousness of the creamy custard which was flavoured with peach leaves.
I was enchanted to see that Le Creuset now make a series of Pie Birds in different colours that serve the same purpose.
Click here for the Old Fashioned Chicken Pie Recipe
Click here for more info on the Le Creuset Pie Birds and other products.