The process of making a pie from scratch is certainly a rewarding one. And as with anything you bake, the preparation and process is so important to the outcome. You’ve spent time and effort putting the pastry together, so don’t sell yourself short by skipping the final step — the wash!
Pies with a top crust or lattice top will typically call for an egg or cream wash to be brushed on to the dough just before baking. The type of wash you use is what will give the baked pie a polished finish (it’s also the perfect “glue” for holding sugar that’s sprinkled on the crust).
An egg wash will give your pie crust a glossy finish, while a cream wash will give your pie crust more of a semi-golden, matte-like finish. Skipping a wash altogether can leave your crust looking stark.
The general rule of thumb for egg wash is 1 well-beaten egg plus 1 to 2 tablespoons of water (note: more water will lighten the golden color, or for a shinier pie, you can substitute the water with cream or milk).
For a cream wash, use heavy cream or half-and-half. No matter which you chose, a wash should always be applied just before the pie goes into the oven.
There are a variety of pie wash combinations that will give your crust a different finish. Whatever look you are going for, do yourself a favor and don’t skip this final preparation step.
This article was first published on the MarthaStewart.com Network on May 14, 2014.