Make an impressive pie with a simple, but awesome mould
If you like making pies, sooner or later, you'll want to make a mega-sized, free-standing raised pie (or is that just me?). These centrepiece pies were big with the Victorians, but they need a pretty epic mould to keep their shape while baking. Antique ones are expensive. Here's how you can make one yourself by recycled stainless steel.
This is much more challenging than just buying one anyway.
What's in this Instructables
This instructable will hopefully help you achieve some of the following...
- Make a HUGE pork pie
- Do simple non smithing metalworking (hammer work)
- Magically convert a paper bin into a great pie mould (proper up-cycling)
The mould shown here has a castle-like vibe to it. You could try other shapes. This doesn't just look good. It's evenly distributed pillars give the pie strength to stand up majestically.
This instructable can save you money too. Moulds like this typically cost a fortune as they have become sought after. They were were originally manufactured in the 19th century and can ocassionaly still be found on ebay and other selling sites, but due to demand-led costs so on, they can cost upwards of £100 ($150).
This mould cost nothing to make, except your time and labour, which is the investment that gives more back anyway :)
Step 1: How Do Pie Moulds Work?
Pie moulds are pretty simple. They are girdles that give shape to your pie, by holding in the pastry until it cooks solid. When removed after cooking, you mould-shaped pie has a monumental quality that cannot really be achieved with a hand formed pie.
Raised pie moulds typically have two curved side panels that fit together to make the desired shape. These come apart easily to release the cooked pie.
This instructable shows you how to make a mould with three parts: two sides and a bass plate...
Step 2: Tools Used in Making the Mould
Basics: holding, cutting, folding and beating
Although easy to make, you will need some tools. You will at least need some metal snips, a ball pein hammer and some grips.
It's a lot easier if you have a vice for holding the metal. A strong metalworking vice is ideal. It's also a lot easier to bend sheet metal with a vice. They have immense leverage, that can be applied subtly with the handle. It's easy to do in a controlled way with a vice that is much harder to do with hand grips and hammering.
If you are really lucky and have an anvil, even better. For the heravier hammering, it is much better to do this on the anvil. You shouldn't really do heavy hammering on the jaws of a vice. It can damage them (although you'd need to really smash it to do this).
For the hammering, you can get away with a singlle ball-pein hammer (the one with one ball-shaped end). I found it easiest to do this with two ball pein hammers, one large and one small, but one is enough. I used a round wooden mallet for starting the bending of wide parts of sheet metal. Mallets don't dent the metal like hammers do.
For cutting out the main shapes, I use a set of long-handled snips with one handle fixed in a vice. This makes them a lot easier to control. You can push your body weight down on the free handle and they don't move about if secure in the vice. The smaller double-lever snips are good for finer hand-cutting: snipping off accurately to a line. I mainly used the to cut out the base plate scalloping.
You will need a few files. Some rough one and a few progessively finer. Cut sheet metal has incredibly sharp edges, so you'll need to file it smooth. You can use leather gloves. I find it easier to control using bare hands, but you will cut your hands a fair bit if you don't wear gloves handling the sheet.
Look after your ears
Beating steel on an anvil creates a lot of loud noise. This easily reaches danegous levels, so use ear defenders or you may damage your hearing. Wearing ear protection means you can hammer away without worrying about about ringing ears.
Step 3: Raw Materials - Using Recycled Stainless Steel
First start with a bin...
The mould here just needs metal that is OK to cook with. Stainless steel is ideal. You really don't want to be spending money on this. There is a load of free steel thrown away every day. I used this waste paper bin from IKEA.
The basic shape was taken from the curves of the original bin. This bin is really thin, so cuts easily with snips. I used the long snips with one handle clamped in the vice for this.
Using a cylinderical bin gives you a nice rolled-over edge seam and the basic curve shape is already there. This is OK, but some panel beating can lead to a traditional tooled finish that looks much better...
Step 4: Shaping the Sides
Modifying the curves
The mould is essentially two segments of the cylinderical bin. They could be used just as they are, to make a decent smooth-sided oval pie.
But where's the fun in that?
By working the curved panels with a ball-pein hammer, a much lovelier tooled finish can be had.
Here you can see how a metal bar (actually a shelving bracket) was first used to create two curved vertical piping shapes. The raw smooth curved segment is clamped into a metal-working vice (or any strong metal vice), then the panels to either side are beaten so the curve of the bar starts to show in the panel.
The metal was not beaten on the bar itself. The shaping was done by just beating the panel on either side of it. This keeps the smooth pilaster effect where the bar is, with a nice dappled hammer-finish in between.
You can see the finished panel next to the original. This was repeated to create a second side.
Step 5: Making the Base Plate
A base plate with built-in clips
The two hammer-beaten sides fit together and make a good shape. When used for baking later, they will need to be secured together. You can just make folded-metal clips. These are easy to make, but are also to lose. This mould has clips built into its base plate.
To make the base plate, another piece of steel was snipped out of the bin and flattened gently, using the wooden mallet. The side panels were used as a template to draw an outline on the base sheet. The plan view is a basic holly leaf shape. Some additional convex curved lines were drawn on to give the base plate a scalloped shape.
The sheet used for the base was longer than the area needed for the sides to sit on. This extra attached metal allowed two plates to be created. These were folded up to create the clips. These were beaten using a heavy wooden mallet, to prevent denting the smooth metal, as would happen using a metal hammer. The fine bending was done in the vice jaws. This included folding over edges to create a seam to hold the clip together..
Step 6: Making Use of the Mould
Let's cook pie...
Having made the mould, it needed testing. What better than a classic pork pie?
I have another Instructable that shows how to do this, but it is simply some pork, fat, flour, salt and pepper.
The meat should not be too lean or the pie will be dry. I used shoulder. It is not too fatty, but you can use belly which tastes great but is much fattier. Whatever you use, it is much better when you mince it twice. It is smoother.
The pastry is hot water crust. This is easy to use. It moulds like Play-Doh. Fill it with minced seasoned meat then seal with more pastry. You must cut holes to allow steam to escape. This is easiest done with an apple corer.
Cooking takes about 90 minutes at gas mark 6.
Once cooked, the pie needs to be cooled completely. This is easiest in the fridge. After cooling, gelatine is poured through the holes to fill the pie. Further cooling in the fridger is needed. Overnight is safest.
To release the pie, it is advisable to warn the mould. The fat in the pastry can make it cling to the mould and detach your pastry. A waft or two with the blowtorch will sort this :)
Step 7: Pie Porn Shots...
Here are some shots of the first pie out of the mould. A classic pork pie, seasoned with just salt and pepper. Next to it are two standard sized pies to show the full majesty of the moulded pie.
nom nom nom...
Step 8: Pi Within a Pie - Spooky Random Moment
Pie as homage to pi...
This was completely weird. Although I've been meaning to make a pir mould for ages, I had got this Instructable together inpired by Pi/e Day contest .
After baking pie #1, I was looking at the proportionate sizeof the the pie's length to width, and it looked by eye to be about three to one - very close to pi itself it seemed. So, on a whim, I measured it
Bizarrely, the length to width ratio was almost exactly pi (no cheating, this was a complete fluke).
Length = 16.3 cm
Width = 5.2 cm
The ratio of these was 3.13461 or about .002% less than pi which is 3.13159.
Maybe that's why it tasted so good...
Pi Pie reloaded...
In honour of this weirdness, I made another pie in the mould, decorated with a pastry pi, as seemed appropriate. That used puff pastry. Great on the top, but not really strong enough for the sides. This was especially true as it was a steak and kidney pie which has a much more liquid filling than the jelly-filled pork pie.
Oh well, I'll just have to make another one...