How Should You Brush Pie?

Apple, blueberry, pumpkin ... there's always room for a slice of pie after dinner. Pies are a traditional dessert during the holiday months, but they can be enjoyed any time of year with whatever fruits are in season.

Pies have been around since the creation of dough, with some of the first medieval pies being filled with savory meat, such as beef, lamb, duck, and pigeon. According to Time, historians believe the crusty tops of pies acted as a way to preserve food and keep the filling fresh during the winter months. And thanks to the invention of refrigerators, pie crusts are now used to enhance the flavor and texture of pie, as well as to act as an aesthetically pleasing work of art, with many types of designs, including lattice, braiding, and more.

Brushing an unbaked pie crust is one of the best ways to make your decorative edging stand out. Food Network states that brushing your pie can change its overall look, with some crusts being more rustic to others having a glossy sheen or sparkle. Interestingly, it all depends on how you brush your pie and the ingredients you use.

How to brush a pie

Believe it or not, there's an art to brushing pie. In fact, this finishing touch can make or break your beautiful creation. If done wrong, your crust can become soggy or burnt. So, what exactly is the secret?

You may have seen your grandma brush the tops of her pies with an egg wash, but there are many other ingredients you can use, depending on the aesthetic you're looking to achieve. Martha Stewart explains that brushing the top of your pie with an egg wash will give it a sleek, glossy finish, whereas a cream wash will make your crust have a more matte-like finish.

Martha Stewart says the rule of thumb for egg wash requires a beaten egg mixed with two tablespoons of water. The outlet adds that more water can be added to the mixture to lighten the color of the crust. You can also substitute the water for cream or milk for a shinier crust. However, be sure to only lightly brush your pie, as too much egg wash can pool and end up making your pie look eggy and unappetizing.

But what happens if you don't brush your pie with a wash at all? According to Canadian Living, skipping the wash on your next pie most likely won't work out in your favor. Without an egg wash, the crust can turn out dry and dull, overall making your pie look brittle and burnt.

More pie topping tips

The beauty of pie is its versatility, not just in delicious filler ingredients but the endless toppings you can sprinkle on them to make them stand out. After you've washed your pie, there are plenty of ingredients lying around your kitchen to choose from. Thanks to the pre-egg wash, your ingredients will stick to the crust and bake perfectly into it.

According to King Arthur Baking, one of the most popular pie-topping ingredients is granulated sugar, which can give your pie crust a crunchy, caramelized finish. You can also use cinnamon sugar for a sweet, woody flavor. Some people even use coarse sparkling sugar to give it a more glittery, crystallized look. Confectioners' sugar is also perfect for dusting your pie with a beautiful, snowy look.

Finally, Julia Child was right when she said, "With enough butter, anything is good." Brushing your pie after baking with a simple thin layer of melted butter will give your pie crust a buttery flakiness and enhance its flavor. When all is said and done, there are a variety of washes and toppings to give your pie crust the unique finish you're looking for. Whatever it may be, do yourself a favor and don't skip the important final step: brushing your pie. Your guests will thank you.