With the UK weather taking a turn for the worst over the past few weeks, households up and down the country will be wanting to make sure that their evening meals are hearty and warm to help them get through the cold spell!
And what could be heartier than a beautifully cooked pie? With National Pie Week happening across the UK from the 6th March, Wren Kitchens (www.wrenkitchens.com) have collaborated with Yorkshire Handmade Pies to reveal the top cooking hacks to help you craft the perfect pie.
Cooking hacks to perfect your pie
1.Prepare your set-up
Making sure you have the right equipment is crucial when starting to think about cooking a pie.
If you’re after a pie with crimped edges, then make sure you use a pie dish with a decent lip. The lip will help the pastry cling to the dish and stop it falling into the filling, causing it to go soggy.
For a double crust pie (the pies with pastry on the top and bottom), it’s recommended that you use a metal pie dish. The metal material will help conduct heat and ensure the base becomes crispy (helping to avoid that dreaded soggy bottom).
2. Making your pastry
According to Yorkshire Handmade Pies it’s recommended that you use a combination of butter and shortening, or margarine.
Using the 50/50 mix of these two fats helps give a balance of flavour and texture that’s just right, and not overpowering. All you need is 500g plain flour, 125g unsalted butter, pre-diced into 1cm chunks and pre-chilled in the fridge, 125g pastry shortening or margarine cut into 1cm chunks, 5g salt, and 95ml cold water.
You can either mix your pastry by hand or in a mixer with a paddle attachment. It may take a little longer by hand, but it’ll be just as good!
3.Master the cooking
If you’re feeling brave and want to cook a double crust pie, make sure you blind bake first! This is a step often overlooked in the cooking process, but it’ll help you avoid any soggy pastry.
A cooking hack to help you perfect the bottom pastry is to scrunch up baking paper (to soften it), before laying it flat on the pastry, and filling it with baking beans.
Bake the pastry until golden, and then remove the beans and paper, making sure there are no signs of raw pastry left.
The final cooking tip is to always make sure you brush the cooked pastry with a beaten egg, and then add the pie back to the oven for five minutes – this will create an extra seal.
4.Get creative with decorating
There are two key elements to making sure your pie looks as visually appealing as possible (as we all know, food is 80% how it looks, and 20% how it tastes).
For the glaze, you need to choose either a matte finish (if so, use milk) or a slight browning (if so, use a whole beaten egg).
Also, try and decorate your pie with letters or images created out of leftover pastry – this is a great way to add a unique spin on what will be a delicious meal!