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I often use bought puff pastry to make a topping for a chicken pie. However, I tend to find that the pastry is fully cooked on the top but the underside of the pastry remains almost raw. How can I avoid this?

  • When you were placing the puff pastry over the stew filling, was the filling cold or hot? – JasonTrue Mar 13 '13 at 3:52
  • Would a convection oven help? – Cynthia Avishegnath Mar 13 '13 at 6:17
  • Hello and welcome to Seasoned Advice, user17214! You may find our tour, Seasoned Advice Meta, and help center useful. Please check them out if you have time. Have fun and good cooking! – FoxElemental May 6 '18 at 19:21
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A few points to consider...

  1. Try docking the pastry.

    Docking means to pierce lightly with a fork, or a docker (looks like a spiked paint roller), to make small holes in dough that will let steam escape during baking. This helps the dough to remain flat and even.

    ref: http://powerhungry.com/2009/02/puff-pastry-docking/

  2. In general, to cook food more evenly, one should cook longer at a lower temperature. The problem is that the dough on the bottom of your crust is not reaching a high enough temperature by the time the top of your crust is done cooking.

  3. Puff Pastry is notoriously finicky. Be sure to handle the dough according to puff pastry best practices to ensure the layers do not collapse and stick together.

Pepperidge Farm has a tutorial website (http://www.puffpastry.com/videos-and-tips#howto-demos) to help people with puff pastry issues, but it doesn't appear to cover much detail.

  • You must be very gentle when rolling out the pastry because it is multiple layers of dough with fat between each.
  • Do not mangle the dough, cut clean lines and try not to apply pressure except where the knife is cutting
  • Do not let the dough get warm before you are ready to cook. The fat melts and the layers will stick and not puff properly.
3

I am going to try baking the pie crust on it's own on a baking tray. It's what most restaurants seem to do. Wish me luck.

  • Hi Mary, and welcome to Seasoned Advice! — Perhaps you mean to post this as a comment, instead of as an answer to the OP's original question. — Good Luck with your baking! – ElmerCat Dec 27 '15 at 0:28
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    I think this is actually an independent answer - it was the first to suggest baking the pastry/crust separately yet, so it's not purely a reply. (This is from before Joe's answer.) – Cascabel Dec 27 '15 at 2:59
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So long as the filling is moist (and that's most of the point of a pot pie), the filling is going to steam the underside of the pastry, resulting in the dough cooking more slowly.

Starting with a hot filling will help, as will cutting vents to allow the steam to escape, but you also need to try to ensure that the pastry doesn't actually touch the filling. (as you then also have to deal with the filling being a thermal sink).

Smaller ramekins, not filled to the top, with the pastry stretched over the rim should sag less, and hopefully set up some before it sags down to touch the filling.

Or you can cheat, and cut disks that are a little smaller than the size of the vessel the pot pie is to be served in, bake them on a sheet tray, and then drop them on top just before serving. (You might also be able to bake them part way, and then drop them in to finish baking, so it's not quite so obvious what you did)

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I assume you are add pastry to the top of an oven proof dish filled with your chicken pie!

Simple: Have your rolled pastry ready in the fridge.
If you're using the pre-rolled pastry - about 3mm thick - leave it as is.
If you're buying a block roll it out to 3mm thick - see tips.
Make sure your pie filling is hot.
Pour the filling directly from your sauce pan into the oven proof dish.
Lay your pastry over the top, trim it if you want.
Brush the top of the pie with egg wash (30% milk 70% egg beaten)
Put it into the oven - which should be preheated - and bake @ 200C/390F for 20-25mins
If you oven is fan assisted set it to 180C/350F.
You should not have a fabulous chicken pie! Assuming you've made a cracking filling of course!

Tips:
When you're working with puff pastry keep it as cool as possible (which is why pastry work is normally done on a marble surface)
Handle it as little as possible. (keeps it cooler)
When you're done rolling it put it into the fridge until you need it.
If it gets warm the fat will seep between layers and the pastry wont puff!
Did I mention you should keep it cold! ;)

If you have a read of this it'll give you an idea of how puff pastry is made! I wrote it a long time ago but nothing's changed since then!! ;)

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The only time I have had thoroughly cooked puff pastry was in France from an artisan bakery. To get a proper puff out of the pastry for a pie is to cook the filling seperately and the pastry separately and pastry cut slightly wider than the pie, not only that but to turn the cooked top of the pastry over to the under side and continue cooking it and it will really raise itself high, the layers will separate and show and it will be thoroughly cooked and then to placed on the pie.

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