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Dry pies, Help !!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi folks,

First and foremost, hello to everyone, This is my first post and could really do with some help, I am making traditional british pies and plan on retailing to large ex pat community, my problem is that I half bake the pie shells, then put in the filling, put on the lid and finish off the pies, when theycome out they are great, but once they are reheated the pies go really dry......... no gravy...... no sauce, just meat and veg, can anyone help please !
post #2 of 13
Welcome, Senyatta! :D

Is the gravy getting absorbed by the pastry, and then the whole thing drying? (I'm assuming that when the pies are reheated, they are just on a baking tray, not in any other protective container.) If that's the case, are you "waterproofing" the inside of the pie shells when you first partially bake them? That might help stop the gravy from going into the pastry and then drying.

You might try brushing the inside of the shells with beaten egg before you bake them -- when the egg cooks onto the pastry, it will form a moisture barrier.

Probably others here will give you other advice. Do let us know what you try, and how it works!
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for that, I cook the pies in aluminium tin foils, reheating is taking place in the oven or microwave, I did think that the gravy was being absorbed by the pastry but there is no visible signs on the pastry to suggest this but on my next batch I will use beaten egg on the inside to see if this helps - great tip I hope - sounds really sensible thanks again
post #4 of 13
You could try adding a little more gravy? I'm unfamiliar with British pies, but being Brits, they should be used to dry food anyway. ;)

(Ish's gonna have my head for that one!)
post #5 of 13
not entirely an unknown phenom - where a gravy goes all thick on storage.

if the pie crusts are not soggy and gooey on reheat, I'd suspect that moisture from the gravy is being absorbed by the veggie bits - potatoes...? or,,, is the gravy stable prior to use? (i.e. starches absorb water; if the gravy hasn't been cooked through the starch elements could be soaking up the moisture.)

you may need to over thin the gravy so it is "about right" after storage and reheat. first you must ensure the basic mix is stable - the rest is largely by experiment with your recipe - it does introduce the danger that the thinner gravy will soggy-up the crust. blind baking, egg wash, etc. would certainly help there.
post #6 of 13
You know me SO well, Kuan!:p
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
thanks for that, another piece of good advice, how do you stabilise the gravy though ?
post #8 of 13
at this point, we only know you are making pies - hasn't been any discussion about recipes, etc., so we're basically flying blind.

if you are making a sauce/gravy separately and adding that to the meat/veg/other ingredients, the starches need to be completely cooked through so they do not continue to absorb moisture. an easy test is makes some per recipe, let it cool down, it will naturally thicken as it cools, reheat it. when warm is should come back to essentially the same consistency. I often use a roux for gravies - for a longer dining period - like a holiday - I try to make it at least an hour ahead so the starches cook thru completely and I can adjust the final consistency. it may thicken as it cools on the table, but at least when I go to the kitchen for a fresh batch, the pan hasn't congealed into a blob.

if you are developing the sauce/gravy entirely as part of a stewing process, the likely culprit is a high starch potato variety that just sucks up all free moisture in storage.
post #9 of 13
Look into using Mochiko (rice starch) or Signature Secrets®, they both stand up to freezing fairly well.
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #10 of 13
Between Suzanne (crust is absorbing the gravy), and Dillbert (gravy continues to thicken until it becomes solid) the situation is pretty well covered.

Since you're par-baking the bottom crust you might as well egg wash it; and that should be some help.

Even if the starches in the gravy are fully "stabilized" the gravy will thicken during storage as a result of new starches acquired from the inside of the top of the crust, and normal diffusion which is accellerated by refrigeration, and will spread the moisture into the crust, (almost) no matter how well sealed.

Based only on your description, thickening is probably less of a problem to begin with. That is, you're not complaining about congealed gravy. Further, I'm afraid that if you thin the gravy too much to compensate, it will destroy the crust by making it soggy. It's a delicate balance. I'd like to know more about your procedure before making suggestions on whether, when and how much to thin.

Since you haven't mentioned freezing, I won't offer comment.

If you're serving these pies yourself, it's common to serve extra gravy along side to compensate for the loss of moisture casued by holding. This may be the best solution.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
HI, thanks for your comments, much appreciated, at the moment I am making steak, mince, chicken & mushroom or with leek or sweetcorn, haggis, roast pork & apple with pepper sauce.

In the main the steak pies are the most problematic, they do have more veg in them than the others, also the meat here is very lean - not much fat could this be a problem? also because I was cooking 1.5 kilos of meat I decided to thicken at the end of the cooking process in order to cook it off quicker, rather than make a roux or flour beef prior to browning, basically I stew the meat and veg.

Tonight I have made mince and onion pies, same manner of cooking, however, I have egg washed the insides, kept the gravy on the thinner side than normal, got to say the pies are great (I would say that anyway) but the truth will be tomorrow I guess so I will keep you all posted, many many thanks for all your comments and advice keep them coming....
post #12 of 13
Every answer that you have received from everyone is correct. Here is my 2 cents worth You could be baking at to high a temp. Also make extra sauce or gravy when they come out useing a baster inject more gravy or sauce into them. Brush your pie shells with egg white to form a moisture proof barrier between pastry and filling. Good Luck
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi Ed

Yes, I think you are correct on the high temp issue so I did adjust on the next batch, I also used beaten egg (is egg white better?) this worked well, moisture in the main was retained although this batch was mince and onion and not the infamous steak pies, I need to work through on this starch problem also, yes retaining more gravy and injecting them afterwards is a good idea just need to find one of those baster injector thingies, once again thanks for your much needed help and assistance
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