The wording alongside the photo boasted of freshly made pies in 10 minutes; that the space it took up was similar to that of a sandwich toaster - and that you didn't need any pie dishes to go with it because the pie maker had its own special pie-shaped indents that moulded the pastry. I placed my order, and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. A couple of days later, it arrived.
I can't tell you the hassle I had when I first tried using this. There were times when I wanted to throw it out of the window. To begin with, I happily got on with making my own crumbly savoury shortcrust pastry; mixing, chilling and rolling, while the pie maker started heating up. This didn't take long - about 2 minutes I reckon. I lowered a circle of pastry into one of the indents and pushed gently with the 'pie pusher tool'. The pastry split. I tried again with another circle. It split again. I've never had any trouble with this pastry before, but for some reason it didn't like the pie maker at all.
I then defrosted some shop-bought pastry I had in the freezer. It was puff pastry. And then I noticed in the instruction booklet that Lakeland do not recommend using puff pastry for the base, only for the top. I wondered why, so I made it with puff pastry anyway to see what would happen. The pastry didn't split at all when I shaped the base but I now found out that it's not recommended because it doesn't cook through properly.
But making puff pastry pies with this machine is not impossible. If you use the maker to shape and fill your pies and then seal the lid on, you can take them out after 10 minutes and then slide them into a hot oven for another 15 minutes or so. Just make sure you pierce the top, so they don't explode. This will give you perfectly-shaped puff pastry pies cooked all the way through.
I've tried quite a few pastry recipes with the pie maker and haven't found one yet that doesn't result in splitting when you try and mould the pie. When you make a crumbly pastry to line a regular pie dish, remember that the pie dish isn't usually searing hot and so you can patch up any bits that crack as you go. And because this IS searing hot, the pastry starts to cook even before you've put your fillings in. I'm using shop-bought shortcrust with mine now, but I'll report back on this post if I figure out a way around it.
I've had the pie maker for a few weeks now, and I have to say it's worth persevering with. At £29.99, it's not badly priced for something that you will use a lot, throughout the year. I bought mine because I always end up with the odd serving of stew or curry that no one wants and so I decided to put it into a pie and freeze it for lunches or quick dinners. It's great for this, and I reckon it will save us a lot of food waste.
I'm a bit peeved that I didn't know beforehand that crumbly pastry wouldn't work in it, or puff pastry (at least not without the oven's help). But I am glad I bought it - once you get the hang of it it'll help you produce pies quickly and easily - and it takes up just a bit more space than a sandwich toaster.
Lakeland Pie Maker Bonuses:
- You get freshly cooked, sweet or savoury pies in 10 minutes and you save energy because you won't have the oven blaring for half an hour (or more).
- You can make quiches, tarts or pies - just don't overfill them though or you'll get black toasty bits on the top of your quiche and your filling will stick to the top of the pie maker (resulting in washing up nightmare, see below).
- Use up your leftovers and turn them into pies to put in the freezer to take to work, packed lunches or defrost for simple weeknight dinners - with chips. Mmmmm...
- Your pies will be 'real pies' not just a stew in a dish with a puff pastry 'hat'. And you won't need to buy or wash up lots of pie dishes to get them.
Lakeland Pie Maker Disadvantages:
- Not all types of pastry will work with it - the instruction manual tells you that sweet shortcrust pastry will be too fragile, but I've found most home-made savoury shortcrust recipes do the same. At least to begin with, go for shop-bought pastry, which seems to keep its shape and not crumble apart so much.
- If you do overfill your pies, they'll split and the pie filling will splurge out onto the non-stick panel. If this happens, you'll need to spend ages scrubbing very gently with a sponge to try and get it off. Because it's non-stick, no scourers or scraping of any kind is allowed, or you'll ruin the non-stick coating. Hence why there's all the 'DO NOT OVERFILL YOUR PIES' mentioned all the way through the instruction book.
- You can't use puff pastry as the base of your pie, as it won't cook properly, but you can use it as the topping.
Do you have one of these pie makers? What did you think of it?