20 February 2019
With Pie Week coming up (March 4th-10th), now is the perfect time to create a hearty pie to please all the family. From a simple supper to a work of art, a pie can offer it all. The sheer variety of what you can put in a pie makes it a perennial favourite!
While the British may not have invented the pie, we have definitely taken it to heart and made it our own! What could evoke a wintry day better than a steaming steak and kidney pie? And of course English apple pie – it dates back to Chaucer and is a perfect way to add substance and create a family favourite when apples are abundant.
In today’s hectic lives, very often we don’t have the time to cook meals from scratch… nevertheless the love of pies is here to stay. So the question is: do you buy ready-made pies so all you need to worry about is heating up and serving or do you make your own? We must admit, on a busy week day ready-made can help, but for those still keen to make, there’s the halfway house of buying pastry of all sorts, so you just need to take care of the filling.
You will probably agree though – homemade pastry is hard to beat. So we tried it out (on a less busy Sunday, when we could take our time and enjoy the process!) and collected a few tips for you if you decide to give it a go:
- Rest the pastry in the fridge to allow the gluten in the flour to relax – it’ll give you pastry that’s more tender and less prone to shrinkage. Bring it back up to room temperature to make rolling easier.
- Cool hands, rolling pin and work surface prevent the fat getting too soft. Try not to use too much flour when rolling your pastry as it can cause it to dry out. The less you handle and re-roll the pastry, the better.
- Be gentle when you lift the pastry into the dish to avoid stretching it too much and allow a little overhang. Spoon in your filling carefully so you don’t create holes in the base or sides. Add your lid and press the edges together to keep the filling in.
- Once you’ve assembled your pie, brush on an egg or milk glaze to create a golden shine once cooked. For a sweet pie, you could add sugar or icing sugar too. Pop it onto the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven and let the anticipation of a delicious meal build!
- Choose a suitable dish: a lid-only pie will work fine in a ceramic dish but a fully pastry-clad one needs a metal dish to ensure the base is well cooked. You wouldn’t want a soggy bottom, would you?
- Choose your pastry: puff pastry works well for a pastry lid as it can be popped on to a still-hot casserole. Shortcrust pastry is very versatile; some add sugar to the butter before mixing with eggs and flour to make a sweet pastry for desserts, but a plain pastry works well too.
- Don’t fret if your pie isn't perfect – if the pastry isn’t rolled out to a perfectly even thickness or if a little of the filling makes a bid for freedom. Neither of these things will affect how delicious your pie tastes or how satisfied you feel when it all disappears and all that’s left are beaming faces and rosy cheeks. Give it a try!
Last but not least, perhaps one of the best things about making your own pastry is that there’s always a bit left over. Have you thought about crispy cheese straws, jam turnover or perhaps these delicious cinnamon swirls?