Manchester tarts from a musician and her mum

PUBLISHED: 12:12 05 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:15 20 February 2013

Purple sprouting broccoli and Garstang Blue cheese tart

Purple sprouting broccoli and Garstang Blue cheese tart

A musician turned pie maker and her chef mum are the upper crust. Emma Mayoh reports<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Musician Clare Hillyer has added another string to her bow. The accomplished cellist and former orchestral manager is now hitting the high notes making pies and tarts.

The 37-year-old, from Whalley Range, spent eight years with chamber orchestra, Manchester Camerata. But after having daughter Florence in 2007, Clare and mum Ann Taylor decided to pursue a long-time dream to run their own catering business. A year later they launched The Manchester Tart Company.

They came up with the idea because of Clares unsuccessful search for a Manchester Tart supplier for her own wedding in 2004.

I have a very strong idea of what a Manchester Tart should be but couldnt find it anywhere, said Clare, who also has a four month-old son Benjamin. We ended up with rhubarb crumble.

My mum made some for a party at our house the next day. Everyone loved it and said we should start selling it. The seed was sown.

Manchester Tarts have become their signature dish but it is just one of dozens of pies and tarts the pair make. Several of them are based on traditional recipes like the Lancashire Foot, a minced pork pie named because of the shape of the pastry crimper.

Theres also the fantastically-titled Chorlton Clanger made with Lancashire crumbly cheese and the Lancashire hot pot pie. Local ingredients also play a big part in their recipes with Bury black pudding used in their breakfast tarts with smoked bacon and all-butter shortcrust pastry.

We wanted the heritage recipes to be a big part of what we do, explained Clare. Pies are a timeless food too which is why we like doing them. Theyre not a fashionable thing like cupcakes; they have and will stand the test of time.

People like tradition too and have a nostalgic approach to our pies, particularly the Manchester Tart. People remember it when they had it for their school dinner between the1950s to 1970s. Ours is more based on the original Victorian recipe and people love it.

Clare learned her cooking skills from 69-year-old Ann, a trained chef and retired catering lecturer who has spent her career working in top restaurants, teaching other chefs and researching the history of food and recipes. She also trained people from a delegation to Brussels to cook for European Parliament.

Together they make all of the pies and tarts, which have won numerous awards, at Clares Manchester home. The food is currently available direct from Clare and Ann but hope to soon start supplying local cafes and delis and sell at farmers markets. They also hope to have their own caf and wholesale unit.

Things are going really well and hopefully one day we can go for it, said Clare. My mum and I love working together and were so lucky to be able to do it. She has such a wealth of experience and Ive learned so much from her since I was a child.

She has such a youthful approach and vigour and we just work well together. Were excited about the future and hope more and more people enjoy our pies.

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The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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