How to make a flawless handraised pie

It'll be your best one yet - pie kid you not!

How to make a flawless handraised pie

It's Pie Week on The Great British Bake Off and that means one thing - there's bound to be at least one soggy bottom.

"It will be edible and I don’t actually mind a soggy bottom"

Bakers will take on a decorative shortcrust signature, which according to presenter Noel Fielding is 'worthy of pie-casso', a technical tart that causes 'Portuguese panic' and a showstopping handraised pie with a crust that lands the bakers in 'very hot water'.  

To make sure everyone's got their pie on the prize Candice Brown, winner of GBBO 2016 shared some words of wisdom. She says, "Just try and keep everything cold. Though that’s easier said than done when you’re in a tent which sometimes gets up to 30 odd degrees.

"But do you know what – it’s just pie, enjoy it! It will be edible and I don’t actually mind a soggy bottom. I like a bit of stodgy pastry sometimes. Or, just cover it in gravy and no one will know."

Handraised pies differ to any other homemade pie, because they are raised and shaped by hand. They come with a pastry lid and stand up by themselves and not in a pie dish.

To help you avoid any #bakeofffails, our food assistant Vanessa Graham has shared some tips. It really is as easy as pie!

1. Get your pastry right

"When making a raised pie, you need pastry with a bit of structure to it," Vanessa says. "Something like a flaky pastry is likely to slip or split open in the oven due to the amount of fat in it. I’d always suggest a hot water pastry, as it’s more flexible and sturdy. It's also easier to repair cracks before it goes into the oven!"

2. Make sure your hands are cold 

According to Vanessa, 'cold hands are a pastry maker’s best friend'. She says: "When handling delicate pastry, the heat from your hands can melt the fat in the pastry layers, making it stickier and harder to work with. If the fat melts between the layers of pastry, it won’t rise as much in the oven, making it chewy and tough. Luckily, this isn’t as a much of an issue with hot water pastry, which is used whilst still warm."

Person making pastry

3. Use dry ingredients

Make sure your ingredients aren’t going to give off too much moisture, Vanessa told us. She continued: "For example, make sure meat is well-sealed and fresh fruit or veg is cooked and drained or squeezed of excess juice before use. You can combat this with something to ‘soak up’ any liquid, e.g. breadcrumbs in the mixture or a dusting of cornflour.

"Allow the heat to reach all sides of the tin evenly - make sure there aren’t layers for the heat to fight through – if you put your tin onto a baking sheet and then into the oven, the bottom won’t cook as quickly as the sides of the tin. Put your tin directly onto the oven rack and if necessary, put another tray underneath to catch drips."

4. Always make your lid bigger

Vanessa told us it's always easier to cut away the excess than to stretch the pastry bigger. "Before you begin lining your pie with pastry, draw a circle around the base of the tin onto baking paper. Now you can see at least how big the pastry lid needs to be. I add at least a couple of cm all the way around."

Person making a pie pastry lid

5. Use your hands for crimping

Vanessa said: "Crimping the edges of your pie is both attractive and practical – it’s a quick way of sealing the lid to the body of the pie. You can purchase fancy crimping tools but it’s just as easy to use your fingers. You can use a fork if you like but I think it looks a bit prettier if you pinch a ruffle between your thumb and first two fingers all the way around."

6. Decorate your top nicely 

Depending on your experience and how much time you have got, you can go as wild as you like with your decoration. But for Vanessa, adding a simple leaf design to the top of your pie works every time. She says, "Cookie cutters are the easiest way to do this, just make sure to use the smallest you can find to keep the decoration elegant. Stick the pastry cutouts around the edge of the pie with a little egg wash and brush over the top to glaze."

Person using cookie cutter

7. Don't forget to Egg wash your pie 

If you want to achieve that perfect glaze, don't put your pie in the oven before you've brushed it with milk or an egg wash. "Personally, I prefer to use an egg wash as I think the protein in the egg gives a really rich, deep glaze where the milk can burn off a bit more quickly," Vanessa says. 

Feeling inspired to make your own handmade pie? Make sure you stock up on everything you need at Asda or pop into your local store