Gerry Corner meets the master Waterloo baker and his mum Doreen
STEPHEN Maddock’s pies are so popular that would-be customers have nearly come to blows in their eagerness to bag one.
Every carefully-crafted, butter-rich batch – from minced beef and onion pies, to Maharishi pies, to his for-one-day-only (and-altogether-too-optimistic) Cream of Kiev (guess which team he supports?) pies – sells out inside half an hour.
It was only by chance that the baker and cake maker (inventor of the acclaimed Maclair) came to sell them at all. When Maddock suddenly found himself with a hot food counter and nothing to put in it, he scratched his head. “I know I thought, I’ll throw some pies in there.”
“I made 50 scouse pies,” he says. “They sold out in twenty minutes.”
The 46-year-old was already doing a nice line in cakes and bread from his Little Macaron Shop in north Liverpool – queues having been known to stretch into the street – but you can’t ignore that sort of demand.
Next time he sparked up the turbofan oven in St John’s Road, Waterloo, was a Saturday, the busiest day of the week. This time he baked a hundred pies and to avoid disappointment, he encouraged customers to pre-order via Facebook. Many did. Those that didn’t came anyway, from miles around, on the off chance. They were disappointed. Actually, they were more than disappointed.
“It nearly came to fisticuffs. They couldn’t understand how all the pies could have gone so quickly,” said Maddock, who was concerned for staff taking the flak from pieless punters. So now, Saturdays are first come, first served, and the pies still fly - if it takes an hour to shift them that’s a slow day, and “when they’re gone, they’re gone”.
He will need to have come up with an Evertonian alternative to his popular Mo Salah pies
He’s aiming to grab a bigger share of the pie-making, er, pie, and has bought the domain name Liverpool Pie Society in readiness, with future plans to sell city centre matchday pies to football fans in both Red and Blue camps.
By then he will need to have come up with an Evertonian alternative to his popular Mo Salah pies – a North African influenced filling involving delicately spiced chicken breast, mint yoghurt and a flourish in the form of a crisp baked pastry crown to honour the unofficial King of Egypt. It’s MUCH more than a gimmick and almost as delectable as the sight of LFC’s footballing wizard in action.
At the moment, there’s a different pie on every day but Fridays are always fish, naturally. As someone who has tried and tried and failed to love fish pie, I love this one. A classic fish pie – no pastry in sight, but a mash topping – is a perfect blend of sea trout, line caught cod, petit pois, potato and seasoning, plus the poaching milk, reduced and enriched with cream. So good, I swore out loud to myself.
Cheese, potato and onion pie is the finest example of the genre encountered by Confidential’s finicky food testers; while chicken and leek comes bound in a beautifully judged sauce bearing a hint of sage (“a lovely pie, that”, one of our tasters declared).
Mum Doreen helps out behind the counter, serving customers, washing pots, and wiping the film of flour that constantly coats every surface. “It looks like dust,” she notes, ruefully. The day I call, her lad is busy in the kitchen working on an order for 150 of the eponymous macarons.
Maddock has trademarked the famous Maclair – part macaron, part eclair – which featured on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and has spawned inferior copies in such cities as Paris and Singapore, while bread includes everything from baguettes to a marmalade coburg, his own creation, which makes, customers tell him, “fantastic cheese on toast”.
Back in the hot counter, new pies are added to the repertoire all the time. “Everything has a connection to me, or the shop, or to Liverpool,” he says. This week, the Flying Scotsman (he likes trains), filled with haggis, neeps steeped in pickling solution, a whisky sauce and more; a work in progress that’s coming along nicely.
And the Death Row, a grisly, but not gristly, celebration of his favourite meal: Cumberland sausage, beer onion gravy and mash, which he enjoys “every time I have a pub lunch in the Lakes”. There is just one difference here, the mash isn’t on the side, it’s on the inside.
So why does Maddock believe his pies are so popular. Easy, he says, “it’s down to the quality of the ingredients, including a good pastry recipe”. And the key to a good pastry recipe? “ALWAYS USE BUTTER!”
That’s forgetting one other vital ingredient – the talented baker who is Waterloo’s own master of pies.
The Little Macaron Shop, 44 St Johns Rd, Waterloo, L22 9QG