Expert tips: how to make the perfect pie
olive food editor Janine Ratcliffe on how to make sure your pies turn out crisp, golden and perfectly cooked every time. Including tips on what to cook your pie in, how to handle pastry, and the best glazes.
Get the right equipment
You can make a pie in just about anything (chefs are quite fond of a pie made in a mini pan or casserole), but if you want perfectly crimped edges use a ceramic or metal pie dish with a decent lip. A lip will also help the pastry cling to the dish and stop it falling into the filling and becoming soggy.
Double-crust pies (those with a top and bottom crust) are better made in a metal pie dish as the heat will conduct more easily and help the base become crisp.
It’s best to cook a pie on a pre-heated solid baking tray or sheet. Not only will this stop any filling dropping onto your oven floor and burning, but the extra heat will help crisp-up the base. You can use this trick for tarts too.
Perfect pastry handling
Whatever type of pastry you are making keep your ingredients as cool as possible. Always use chilled butter straight from the fridge and iced water to bind. Some pastry chefs even pop their flour in the freezer for 20 minutes. If you have hot hands and you find the butter gets very soft when you are rubbing it into the flour, it might be better to use a food processor. Just pulse flour and butter until it looks like large breadcrumbs.
Once you’ve brought your pastry together avoid overworking or kneading it. Just wrap in a piece of clingfilm and leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. This will make it much easier to roll and will give all the ingredients a chance to cool down.
If you are making a double crust pie it’s best to blind bake and seal the base before you add the filling to avoid a soggy bottom...
*Line the bottom of the pie dish with pastry then take a piece of baking paper and scrunch it up to soften it.
*Lay it on top of the pastry then fill with baking beans or dried beans or rice. Bake until the pastry is lightly cooked then take out the paper and beans and keep cooking until there are no raw bits of pastry visible.
*Take out the pie shell, brush lightly with beaten egg white then put back in the oven for 5 minutes. This will create an extra seal on the pastry.
How to finish a pie
You can use various glazes for your pie. Milk will give you a matte finish and a slight browning. Whole beaten egg will give a shine and a deep gold colour. Beaten egg yolk will give you the deepest golden brown. Whichever glaze you choose, it’s best to glaze then chill for another 10 minutes before baking to set the glaze. Also if you want to score a pattern on the pastry, do this after the glazing and chilling stage and your pattern will be more defined.
Want some more pie?
Have a look at our best ever pie recipes...
…or our best ever vegetarian pie recipes
And don't forget to check out our Pies, Lovely Pies board on Pinterest.