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Let me start by saying pies are not something that I used to make on a regular basis. Someone bought me one of these at Christmas (at my polite request) as I felt that it would make a nice addition to my gadget cupboard and I could use it like I do my cupcake maker (en masse and then freeze lots of portions). I would say that I have used this around 15 - 20 times so far this year so I am quite experienced with using this now.
When I unpacked my pie maker for the first time I found two plastics tools within the box and a pie maker. In addition to usage instructions, that are basic and easy to understand, there was also a little recipe booklet too which I put with my cook books in my kitchen. Unpacking the pie maker was simple and I just gave mine a wipe over with a soapy sponge (non scourer side) and then wiped it dry with kitchen towel before getting to work giving this a run straight away.
I do like to think of myself as a good cook and housewife and in the past I've made some wonderful pies. The only thing that puts me off is the pastry sticking in the pie tins no matter what I do to coat it first. This is why I thought that the pie maker would be a good idea and since I already have the cupcake maker and I've had fantastic results with it I figured that this would be very similar and I wasn't wrong!
The recipe book that comes with this is not something that I have actually used much and I have only really glanced at it twice. There are some useful recipes in there for both sweet and savoury recipes and it does detail the ideal amount of pastry which I referred to once or twice when I first started using this but I now know from eye rather than having to weigh it making it a little bit quicker to use my pie maker. I would say that the recipe book is definitely well thought out its just that I already have numerous recipes and a few decent pie recipes that have been passed down to me so I just stick to them and vary them slightly when I am using a different recipe.
This pie maker is red and so fits in very well with my pinky red/grey silver kitchen and while I hadn't actually painted my kitchen when I received this it just happens that it co-ordinates perfectly so I've no problems leaving this out on the side after I've given it a clean. This pie maker weighs around 3kg so is fairly heavy, particularly when getting it out of my gadget cupboard one handed. I tend to use two hands to remove this from the cupboard just to ensure that I don't drop it and damage my flooring in my kitchen and this is more for reassurance than because of necessity. To use this maker is a doddle, just plug it in and turn it on. There are red and green lights on the front which will illuminate to indicate that power is being received and once the green light goes out you are ready to make your pies.
How I tend to make my pies is with two types of pastry. Dessert or shortcrust for the bottom, depending on the pie, and often puff pastry on the top, again depending on the pie, to give it a puffed up look and a little difference in texture. I roll my pastry out (often home-made but sometimes not) on a floured surface and then use the cutting tool that came with this. One side is the large side for making the case of the pie and one side is the smaller size for making the top of the pie. I find the shapes very simple to cut out and then once I have the bottoms ready there is a small tool to use to press the bottoms in to place. I place mine over one of the four pie holders that the machine has and then lightly press down using the tool that I've lightly dabbed in some flour. This is very simple and in just one or two seconds the pastry is within the pie holder in a good position and I can add my filling. For fillings always ensure that the ingredients are pre-cooked whether it is fruit, meat or something else entirely. I often keep leftovers from a roasting joint and a few vegetables too and add these with some gravy which go down a treat (and can also be frozen if need be) but I have also made cherry pies, apple pies (both topped with a very light coating of egg and brown sugar) and I have had fantastic results with every pie.
Pies take around 8-10 minutes to cook in the pie maker but I always ensure that I am on hand to check every 1 or 2 minutes if need be. I do not add anything to the bottom layer of pastry other than the flour coating that it is rolled out over and the top layer I often brush with a little egg or milk. I usually find it takes just two or three minutes to roll the pastry, cut the shapes, put the case in, add the filling, place the top on, add the egg or milk and then repeat three times. This means that it is around half a minute per pie and this is just fantastic and saves me a huge amount of time rather than having to wrestle the pastry in to a pie tin only to find that it has stuck at the end. When I shut down the lid there is a catch (like with the cupcake maker) to ensure that the lid stays closed and there is a large hinge on the lid too for easy access once the pies are cooked. To remove my pies I just use a silicone spatula taking care not to hit the pies and split them. It is very rare for a pie to leak when I make them now, however, when I first started using this I had several batches of pies where they leaked and made a mess but now I use around one third of a cup of ingredients and find that this is perfect for a delicious pie that is still encased, particularly if I've brushed with egg yolks before closing the lid. Because the holders are non-stick the pies slip out easily, despite not being greased at the bottom, and the pies really do look quite professional.
These is not a huge flex on this, but it is ample for my kitchen and can be used plugged in to any free socket that I have available at the time, even the one by the back of the microwave, so I've got no complaints really as its not quite long enough to allow the pie maker to drop off my worktop if pulled so I guess that is quite good really, particularly with a mischievous cat in the house!
In all I would say that this pie maker is worthy of 5/5 stars from me. The flex is not the longest but the safety catch works well, it is a little tough to click in to place initially but mine has not loosened so much that it doesn't work despite quiet regular usage (maybe once a week, sometimes a little less). I love being able to make pies for dinner parties and recently when a friend got married I made up a large batch of steak and kidney pies in this maker that went down a storm on a cool evening (it actually chucked it down!) and the pie maker stood up well even with a wipe with a damp sponge while still heated up. I have found this pie maker very simple to use and it is a gadget that I am sure I will continue to find useful in the future. This is easy enough to clean and the pies come out looking beautiful and like professionally made ones that I am proud to show off in front of my friends. Pies are obviously not healthy but these are something that we have on the odd occasion rather than once or twice per week and I like knowing that I can cook up different types at the same time and cool and then freeze for a later date such as when I am stuck late at work and my husband has to fend for himself. I will definitely continue to use this and would firmly recommend it, despite it being a little bulky and heavy.
Short name: Breville VTP147