This weekend saw the Waltshaws selling their wares to the general public for the first time at the West Norwood Feast.

Preparations for this started in earnest on Friday when we took the Stouffer out round South London and brought him back full of ingredients, plastic containers and a lot of meat. Then the cooking started…

I started with the brownies, because they benefit from a couple of days sitting in the tin, slowly getting more chocolatey and gooey. I also made up the pork pie filling by boning and chopping my lovely free-range, thick-end of belly pork from the wonderful Murray Bros. butchers in Penge, and adding all the herbs and seasonings. That also benefits from sitting quietly in the fridge for a day to get the flavours going. Then I stewed a load of bramley apples for more pie fillings which left the kitchen smelling pretty good on Friday evening.

Saturday morning at 8am it starts getting warm, really warm. The radio is telling me that it’s going to be the hottest something or other since something or other began. So the kitchen starts heating up as the sun comes round and you can fry an egg on my worktop. I taped brown paper over the window to keep some of the direct sun off, but it was obvious that the old pastry making maxim – cold hands, hot oven – would have to be abandoned.

So, ten batches of pastry and some expletives later, I have decided that hot-water-crust is my friend, sweet pastry is not, October heatwaves, even less so. We managed to get a good pie production line going though, rolling, shaping, filling, egg washing and then one in and one out of the oven, until our hot little kitchen was full of pies cooling on racks:

 and we could start packing and stacking them in the fridge:

We finished about 9pm, after some stirling washing-up from TOMW who was a wonderful kitchen porter and kept the whole operation organised, clean, and sealed in tupperware while I was wailing about my melting butter like a prima donna of pies.

Sunday. Pack up the Stouff, drive to West Norwood with a tray of fragile apple pies on my lap (I should clarify that I wasn’t actually driving), and get to the site at about 8.30am and start setting up.

And by 10 o’clock, after the careful choreography and attention to detail of TOMW, it looked like this:

Then we wait for live human beings with money to come and buy stuff that we made and eat it. And they did. They came in droves, brought out by the glorious sunshine no doubt, but they came to OUR stall and bought OUR pies. All of them.

The good people of West Norwood were wonderfully supportive, chatty and appreciative. We got some lovely comments about the food, and the Scouse bloke in the checked shirt who ate one of the bean pies and then came all the way back again to tell me how much he liked the pastry, I could have kissed you.

Big love also to our friends who came to see us (and brought their Mums!). We had a contingent come all the way from Wakefield (well, they were in town anyway, but still), and two contingents from North London, including the ever fragrant and beautiful Mr Sandwich and the Spoon. We’re sorry that some of you missed out on the pies because we’d already sold out, but we were very touched you all pitched (eh!) up.

We learned A LOT from doing this, and next time we will do quite a lot differently. It’s set my brain buzzing again and I just can’t wait until the next one so I can try and hone the operation. But all in all, it was a success, and we are feeling quite proud of ourselves now.

Can’t be arsed to sort out the pile of buttery tupperware in the kitchen yet though, I’m still on a pie high.

You can see a few more photos on my flickr page (link on the left) and if you want to subscribe to this blog so you get an email when we update it, also a link on the left. We’re going to try and be a bit more bloggy. x

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