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Aug 25, 2010 11:44 AM

Pie Crust Pastry Brush Topping: Egg Whites, Eggs, or Milk.....Which Do You Prefer?

For bakers out you brush your pie crust with milk, egg white, or (full) egg wash?

(Also, do cut-outs need water under in order for them to stick?)

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  1. You can achieve different surface effects with different ingredients.

    For a stone-fruit pie, you could do a frothy egg-white dusted with cinnamon sugar for a slightly ethereal crispy-crumby finish. Great with apple, peach, pear.

    For a berry pie, you could do an egg-yolk wash to achieve a medium to dark golden brown, shiny finish. Large sugar crystals called sanding sugar or turbinado sugar crystals add a crunchy texture. (This is what I use on scones)

    Cream will give a med-golden look to the crust as well. Usually not shiny. Milk works too.

    Either water or whatever wash you're using will act as 'glue' for dough appliques.

    If you've cut decorative steam vents, be sure to open them up again after the washing.

    Don't forget to add a fancy edge, too. Roll out your crusts with 1 /12" extra to fold back together on themselves, either under or over, then you'll have plenty to work with for a nice high standup edge. I prefer the easy "thumb inserted between 1st-and-2nd fingers held1" apart" method. Protect the edge from overbrowning with foil strips; remove them the last 10 minutes to brown.

    What kind of pie are you making?

    12 Replies
    1. re: toodie jane

      Wow thanks toodie jane, You are quite an expert! Thanks for the detailed description of each brushed topping.

      I am making peach pies. Unfortunately, the peaches were prepped on Sunday, the crust yesterday. Hope it all works out (...despite the now brownish peaches).

      1. re: Funwithfood

        good example of whole egg wash (and a terrific sounding tomato tart reicpe too):

        scroll to the bottom to see a picture of the tart with egg wash.

        here's a good discussion of pie and tart dough making by the same author:


        1. re: toodie jane

          That does look yummy.

          Here is a variable I forgot to mention, I accidently purchased Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (the word whole wheat was off to the left and not readily visible). I'm thinking I should brush on a topping that is least brown, as the crust is (sadly) almost brownish. Perhaps a beaten egg white would be best...?

          1. re: Funwithfood

            I'm not sure a wash would translate all that well visually; but cream or milk might be a nice texture and flavor with the peaches. Or the eggwhite sprinkled w/cinnamon sugar or sliced almonds. o-o-o-o I love sliced almonds on pastries!

            WWPF dough is more crumbly (harder to handle w/o cracking) when raw, and it never gets as flaky, so be extra sure not to handle it too much. Rustic will fit it better anyway, rather than the well-manicured look of a rolled crust.

            1. re: toodie jane

              But whole wheat pastry has such a lovely nutty flavor that goes so well with fruit!

              Don't worry, FunwithFood! It will be a little darker but nothing dramatic. Probably much less than you suspect.

              1. re: rainey

                Thanks for your encouragement. I am disappointed with the color, almost wish I had used AP flour instead. The raw dough tastes funny--not sure if it is the wheat or cider vinegar. Unfortunately, I made 5 batches of double crust! (I'll report back...)

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  If you find you don't like that nutty flavor with sweet pies, try it with savory pies like pot pies or an open roasted veggie tart.

                  Personally, I like the flavor very much.

            2. re: Funwithfood

              Oh, I LOVE whole wheat pastry flour. It is wonderful for fruit pies. I get mine in bulk from our local health food store. The colour difference in the baked crust is not very much.

              1. re: decolady

                Thank you for your encouragement.

                No one (including myself) liked the whole wheat flour, the wheat flavor overpowered the delicious O'Henry peaches. I cried. Well, it was only 8 hours of my time...

                1. re: Funwithfood

                  I'm so sorry to hear that. The only kind I have ever used is the bulk variety from our local store. Perhaps the brand has something to do with it. I've never had the flavour of the pastry overwhelm the fruit.

                  1. re: decolady

                    I don't use WW pastry flour. I actually use the WW equivalent of all-purpose but I choose white WW. It has a less assertive flavor.

                    I don't know white whole wheat is available as a pastry flour but a person could always take the KA approach and substitute 1/4 cup of corn starch for the WW in 2 cups of flour. But then I never use pastry flour for pie crusts in the first place.

        2. re: toodie jane

          I use cream or buttermilk 'cause I love that soft matte brown.

          And I get better results patting it on with my fingers. When I use a pastry brush excess liquid always seems to puddle in all the hundred or so valleys on the top and rim of a pie crust. For me, less glaze is more.

          Great tip about reopening the vents after glazing!

        3. Many times I don't bruch with anything.

          But when I do, it's cream and sprinkled with some granulated sugar.

          1. I don't brush the crust with anything, but I do sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of apple pie.