A Beginner's Guide to Perfect Pies

23. Januar 2023

We Brits sure do love a pie – a national dish worth celebrating! It's so simple to make your own at home with either a pastry crust or a thatch of smooth mashed potatoes. But the secret to a good pie is the filling. Whether you prefer slow-cooked steak and ale, creamy chicken and ham, or earthy spinach and mushroom - all benefit from a splash of Kikkoman soy sauce. Simply use in place of table salt for extra richness.

Homemade Pie Top Tips

Kikkoman soy sauce is a handy store cupboard seasoning for all kinds of dishes as it actually enhances the flavours of other ingredients. The lengthy natural brewing process produces high levels of umami - the fifth taste sensation which brings out savoury flavours on the tongue without overpowering. Unlike other soy sauces, Kikkoman is made with just 4 ingredients - soybeans, wheat, salt and water - and no artificial additives whatsoever so you know you are getting the very best quality.

Here are our top tips for making homemade pies:

What type of pastry is best for pies?

If you are making a pie with a crust you'll need to decide which type of pastry to go for. Shortcrust pastry is the best for pies that fully encase a filling as they tend to be firmer and less likely to leak. Puff pastry is great if you prefer just a pastry lid on top of the filling. Ready rolled shop-bought pastry are easy to handle and quite reliable - even professional chefs appreciate the convenience! All butter versions tend to have the best taste, but if you are vegan then the other types made with margarine are fine.

How do you stop pastry from shrinking when making a pie?

Whether making your own pastry or using ready made, make sure you keep the dough cool. If it gets too warm it will become greasy and shrink back in the oven. Try to handle the dough as little as possible and don't add too much flour either when rolling out otherwise the pastry will be stiff. Put your unbaked pie in the fridge before cooking to allow the pastry to chill and relax after it's been rolled out.

What type of pie dish should you use?

The kind of pie dish you use is important. For a pie with a top and bottom crust, a shallow metal pie "plate" is best. Metal conducts heat well and helps cook the pastry base through, plus the lip around the dish means you can press or crimp the pastry top onto it to seal in the filling. For a pastry or mash topped pie then go for a deep dish to hold the filling - it can be metal, enamel ceramic, earthenware or pyrex - anything that is ovenproof.
Individual pies are the easiest when it comes to serving up!

How do I decorate a pie?

Play around with the decoration - a lattice made from pastry strips is visually appealing, or you could make leaves or letters with any left over pastry. Egg wash will give a lovely golden finish. If you are using mash you could either pipe it over the filling using a piping bag and nozzle for a professional finish or simply rough it up with fork to enable a nice crispy crust.

What is blind baking?

Blind baking is when you partially cook the pastry base before adding the filling on top. It helps the pie crust retain its shape and prevents it from being soggy. Once the pastry is lined in the tin prick the base with a fork several times, then add a circle of baking paper and put some baking beans or dried rice on top to stop it from rising. Place on a preheated baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes then remove the baking beans and paper and add the filling and proceed with the recipe.

Why do you need to cut a hole in a pie lid?

Always cut a small air vent in the pastry lid before cooking to allow steam to escape and stop leakage. You could use a special pie funnel if you have one.

Should I fill a pie to the top with filling?

Don't over fill the pie - leave a centimetre gap at top so that it doesn't bubble over.

Can I eat a pie straight from the oven?

Allow the pie to cool for a few minutes before serving - it will help settle the filling and allow it to thicken slightly, making it easier to cut.

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