Getting a golden color on a pie crust usually doesn’t have to do with the crust itself - it’s what you brush on top. From milk to egg yolks, the sugars and proteins in the glaze will caramelize before the crust itself, giving the pie extra color and a burnished look.
Here’s what the various glazes will give you:
• Milk or Cream - An even reddish-brown color with a fairly matte finish.
• Whole Egg, Beaten - Intense yellow-golden color with a shiny finish.
• Egg Yolk, Beaten - Deep golden-brown color with a highly glossy finish.
• Egg White - No color, but a very shiny finish. We use egg whites when we’re planning on sprinkling the crust with sugar. It helps the sugar stick and makes the pie look sparkly.
For any of these glazes, you want to apply a fairly thin coating with no puddles. A pastry brush with very soft bristles works best for this job. If you’re using any of the egg washes, whisking in a teaspoon or two of water will help thin it out if the glaze feels too thick to brush on.
Which glaze you like best is really a personal choice. We feel that a whole egg probably is the best all-purpose glaze. A friend of ours swears that the secret to her signature apple pie is brushing the crust with three egg yolks, one before putting the pie in the oven and then two more in the first ten minutes of baking.
What’s your preferred pie glaze?