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Friday, June 27, 2014

We don’t actually want you to throw pies as an act of political disagreement – which is what Urban Dictionary claims that our headline means. We just want you to know all about pies. Shirley Mistry & Dev Goswami tell you everything you need to know

Sweet, savoury, filled with fruit or served piping hot with a dollop of cream, pies are a classic dish that have been in existence since the Middle Ages. They are essentially comprised of a pastry casing, filled with a minced, sweet or savoury mixture. The dish is topped with cheese or another layer of pastry and baked until it’s done. Today, we tell you about the different kinds of pie casings, get chefs to give us a few simple pie recipes and tell you about some famous (and infamous!) pies from around the world.

A pie casing or pie shell, as it is commonly known, is what holds the filling for the pie, whether it’s silky chocolate custard, chicken mince or tart Granny Smith apples. Take a look at the different types of pie casings that you can experiment with.

Crumb Pie Shell: This is the easiest one to assemble, as it requires no cooking. A crumb-based pie shell is made from ground cookies or graham crackers, that are mixed with butter and packed into a pie tin. Most commonly used as a base for cheesecakes, you can add brown sugar, cinnamon and cocoa to flavour your pie cases further, or try a crust made with oreo cookies for added flavour.

Mealy Pie Shell: These are the sturdiest pie crusts and can be used for both sweet as well as savoury pies. Right from an apple pie to a quiche, this is the pie shell to go for if you want a base that won’t crumble. The flour and fat (usually butter), are mixed until they are well combined, forming a dough which is rolled out, laid into a pie tin and blind-baked (more on that later), before the filling is added.

Flaky Pie Shell: This is the most delicious of the lot, as the pie case is actually extremely flaky, buttery and crisp, but it requires considerable skill to master. Paper-thin layers of dough, alternated with generous layers of butter, when stacked together, bake to give you a flaky crust. Also known as phyllo pastry (if you are looking to buy a readymade pack), this pastry lends itself well to savoury tarts such as a tomato, basil and mozzarella one, or a sweet one such as a strawberry and cream custard tart, adding just the right amount of crunch to the recipe.

Short-Crust Pie Shell: Sturdy like the mealy pie shell, a short-crust pastry shell has a cookie-like texture. It is made with one part water, two parts fat and three parts flour along with an egg for every 600g of flour (roughly). Unlike a mealy shell, the dough for this pie casing is kneaded till it’s only barely stuck together, lending it a crumbly, cookie-like texture.

Want to bake your own pie? We get you two recipes that you can try at home.

Apple Pie
An apple pie is a classic desert recipe and if you’d like to make one at home, check out this recipe by Kirith D’Souza from Kirith’s Patisserie.
260g plain flour, 75g self-raising flour, 185g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, 75g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp milk, Demerara or caster sugar — to sprinkle.

For the filling: 8 large apples, juice of 1 lemon, 45g unsalted butter, 110g caster sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and ¼ tsp ground cloves


  • Sift the flours with a pinch of salt, in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it lightly into the flour with your fingertips. Lift the mixture high above the bowl as you rub, to incorporate air into the pastry and make it lighter.
  • Continue until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugar.
  • Lightly beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp chilled water and drizzle over the flour mixture.
  • Start to bring the dough together by cutting the liquid into the dough with a blunt knife. Then, form a smooth ball with your hands, adding a little more water if necessary.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap them in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
  • To make the filling, peel and core the apples and cut each apple into eight pieces. Toss them with lemon juice in a large bowl. Do this immediately to stop the apples from discolouring.
  • Place the butter and sugar in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the apples and spices and stir well to coat them. Cook, the apples for 10 minutes or until the apples have softened — stir occasionally. Set aside to cool.
  • Roll out the larger pastry ball on a floured workbench into a 30cm circle (about 2mm thick). Roll the pastry around a rolling pin, then unroll it over a 22cm metal pie dish. Gently press the dough into the corners and allow the excess to hang over the edges of the tin. Place the filling in the pie case with a slotted spoon. Roll the small pastry piece to a 25cm circle. Beat the remaining egg with milk, brushing some on the rim of the base. Top the pie with the small pastry.
  • Lift the pie dish and cut the excess pastry off the edges with a sharp knife. Crimp the edges of the pastry together with your fingers. Chill for 30 minutes, pre-heat your oven to 180°C and place the pie dish on a baking tray. Brush the top of the pie with more beaten egg and sprinkle it with demerara or caster sugar.
  • Cut air vents in the centre of the pie and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Vegetable Pie
Chef Dev Sigh Negi, from Villa 69, gives us this recipe for a savoury, vegetable pie.

2 cups chopped broccoli or sliced fresh cauliflowers, ⅓ cup chopped onion, ⅓ cup chopped green bell pepper, 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 ounces), ½ cup Original Bisquick™ mix, 1 cup milk, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and 2 Eggs


  • Heat your oven to 204°C. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Boil 1 inch of salted water in a medium saucepan.
  • Add the broccoli; cover and cook for five minutes or until the broccoli is almost tender and drain thoroughly.
  • Stir together the cooked broccoli, onion, bell peppers and cheese in the pie plate.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients until blended well.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pie is golden brown and a knife when inserted in the center, comes out clean.

Quick Tips

  • While making a pie crust, make sure that all your ingredients are cold. The warmer the butter and flour are, the more likely it is for your dough to have a hard texture, as opposed to a crumbly one. Overworking the dough can also cause it to shrink when you bake it.
  • Always blind bake the shell before you add the filling. Lay the dough in the pie tin, put a layer of baking paper and add two fistfuls of rice or lentils to ensure that the pie case doesn’t shrink and bakes evenly.
  • Brush the top of your pie crust with a beaten egg or milk to give it a golden-yellow glaze once it is cooked. You can also brush it with an egg white to give it a clear, shiny glaze. This works well if you are going to add a sprinkling of sugar on your pie, making it look extra shiny and glossy.
  • If your pie is a closed one, with a layer of pastry on the top, prick it with a fork to ensure that the steam escapes and that you get a crisp top layer instead of a soggy one.
  • Before you blind bake, brush the pie crust with egg. This ensures that when you add the filling, the sauce doesn’t seep into the crust and make it soggy.
  • Fix a soggy crust by lining the crust with a thin layer of cake crumbs. Kirith D’souza from Kirith’s Patisserie explains, “The crumbs will absorb the extra juices from the fruit and help you make a less soggy pie!”
  • Kirith also tells us that a mealy crust is best for fruit pies as it is less likely to get soggy.
  • Opt for recipes that use cornstarch, as Kirith tells us that it thickens any juices and doesn’t add any flavour to the dish.

At Your Own Risk!
While we scoured the internet for recipes of delicious pies, we also came across some weird ones, that only those with a serious commitment to pies will be willing to try out. Take a look at some of the weirdest pies around.

Vinegar Pie: The filling for this pie is literally a vinegar reduction that resembles a syrup. Even with the added sugar and spices, we are going to steer clear of this one for sure.

Nacho Pie: There is something oddly satisfying about picking up a corn chip, scooping up the beans, guacamole, salsa and warm, melting cheese before you devour it — which is why this layered nacho pie is disturbingly weird. With a crust that is made out of crushed nachos and bread, topped with mince meat, beans and sour cream, this pie seems like a complete mish-mash and one that we’re sure to avoid.

Green gGrape Pie: While we are all for juicy berries in pies, this green grape pie is odd not only because it uses a fruit that you wouldn’t associate with pies, but also because the soggy, mushy grapes look unappetising and taste funky too!

Bean Pie: For most people, beans are hard to eat as they are, so a bean pie is the last thing on most people’s dessert preferences. Made with a sweetened purée of beans, this pie is pasty and gives eating a serving of greens an all new spin.

Green Tomato Pie: While we love tomatoes in our salsa and sauces, a green tomato pie, sweetened with sugar and cinnamon is a ghastly combination (we speak from personal experience) and it tastes like a sweet chutney gone awfully wrong!

From Across The World
While our country has no specific pie that it’s famous for, most other countries do! Read on to find out which ones are the most popular.

Apple Pie: A mixture of tart and sweet apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, an apple pie is considered to be a quintessential American dessert. However, the pie actually finds its origins in Dutch cuisine. Either way, there is no way you can resist a slice of this delicious pie.

Meat Pie: A meat pie, which is usually a single-serve pie, is extremely popular in Australia. Served with a dollop of ketchup, this pie has a flaky crust and a hearty filling made with meat and gravy. A popular snack at events in Australia and New Zealand (because these pies are small and each one serves one person) they are extremely convenient to eat on-the-go too.

Buko Pie: Made with young, fresh coconuts, this pie from the Philippines is a must-try on our list. Unlike a coconut cream pie, which uses a custard filling, this one is packed with slices of tender coconut and makes for a light, yet satisfying dessert.

Spanakopita: This Greek pie is our favourite, as it combines three delicious ingredients — spinach, feta and phyllo pastry. The crunchy exterior gives way to a minimally spiced filling of spinach and feta — a great flavour combination!

Steak and Kidney Pie: A hearty British meal, steak and kidney pie is filled with cubes of meat, kidney and reduced brown gravy. This pie is so filling, a serving makes for a substantial lunch and the slow cooked meat is a delight to devour.

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