I bought a Sunbeam Pie Magic Traditional mini pie maker which makes up to four mini pies. I figured how hard can it be to bake pies when using a pie maker. Surprisingly easy, but at the same time rather difficult. Let me explain.
I did some research on pie makers prior to buying this one by checking out web reviews and watching youtube (as you do when researching cooking appliances). The one that I really wanted was the Breville Personal Pie Maker which is featured in the featured video on this page. It looked super easy to use, and I’ve always loved Breville products. Unfortunately they don’t seem to sell the Breville pie makers here in Australia, so I had to make do with the Sunbeam Pie pie maker.
I used the following ingredients for two mini pies.
Beef Stroganoff Pie
First step is to get the frozen pastry sheets defrosted. You’d think this would be an easy step. Turns out, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. I bought some cheap Shortcrust pastry the other day. It seems it was cheap for a reason. Trying to extract the frozen sheets from the other sheets wasn’t as simple as just prying them apart while frozen. Even though they had a plastic sheet between each pastry sheet, these ones were just way to brittle and kept breaking as I pulled them apart regardless how careful I was.
One of the downsides to this particular pie maker is that due to the size of the bottoms, it makes it virtually impossible to get more than one pie per shortcrust pastry sheet (which is why I needed two). You do end up wasting a lot of pastry (unless you store the excess, and then re-roll it), but since it’s relatively cheap to buy, I just throw away the excess pastry. I initially tried storing some excess but I found trying to roll the pastry was way to much work for the price you pay for it. Plus the pastry has to be used pretty quickly if you put it back in the fridge. It says you can’t refreeze it once thawed so I didn’t really have much choice. I believe the Breville pie maker allows you to cut two bases from a shortcrust pastry sheet but without owning one I can’t be sure.
After getting the pastry sheets apart, I let them sit on the counter for around 15 minutes to let them defrost. I should have let them defrost for closer to 30 – 45 minutes prior to using the pie maker’s cutting template to cut the bases and tops for the pies, but I was a bit impatient. Even though I was cutting the pastry that was still partially frozen, it still cut okay, albeit, I had to use some muscle to do it. Next time i’ll just wait a little longer.
Now for the fun part, Not! You’d think this would be the easiest step, but putting the pie bottoms into the pie maker holes clearly takes skill which I haven’t got.
The Breville pie maker has a tool that can push the pastry into the pie hole of the pie maker, however the Sunbeam pie maker doesn’t have this. Basically, the Sunbeam template cutter cuts slits into the pastry so it will mould easily into the hole, but I found this didn’t work very well. If the pie maker wasn’t preheated at this point, then it would be easy to mould the pastry into the pie hole, but since it’s preheated, time is of the essence and you don’t want to spend 10 minutes moulding the pastry while it’s cooking.
After placing the pastry as best I could into a really hot pie maker, and consequently not being able to properly mould it, I then proceeded to the next step which is adding the Filling.
Adding the filling into the pie base is relatively easy, but kind of messy. Had I used a spoon it would have been less messy, but you need to be pretty precise in the measurement of filling otherwise it will overflow and make a real mess. I took a half cup of beef stroganoff and placed it into the base. I felt like I had to rush though, as once the base is placed in the pie maker it starts cooking.
Once the filling was in the base, the last step was to add the pie top pastry onto the top of the pie. Fortunately you don’t have to mould it or even seal it to the base. It’s not even necessary to get it straight. Simply lay the top over the base and filling and that’s all there is to it.
Once placed on top. Close the lid and let it cook for around 12-15 minutes. I cooked it for around 10 minutes and then took a peek. I took it off at around 12 minutes because the top looked done but I probably should have left it on a bit longer as you’ll see in a moment.
After 12 minutes I removed the pies.
Final Result – Partial Success
I Inspected the finished Beef Stroganoff Pie after 12 minutes of cooking and they mostly looked great. I noticed a couple of very minor almost uncooked parts of the pastry on the side of one of the pies, but only a tiny bit. Overall, it cooked very well considering I struggled to get the pastry templates into the pie maker hole. They were also perfectly sealed, and the filling was piping hot and fully cooked. The pies looked and tasted great. The pie maker did a fantastic job cooking and sealing the Beef Stroganoff Pie. The uncooked portion is due to human error not getting the mould correct in the pie maker. I may look into making my own tool for moulding the pastry better in the future. Maybe it was my inexperience.
Here is the final result.
As usual, feel free to comment.