Judging a Great Aussie Pie
Featured in: Australasian Baker Magazine February/March
2012, Issue 15
If you’re planning on entering the Official Great Aussie
Pie Competition it pays to become familiar with the judging
criteria – whether it’s your first time or you’re
a seasoned competitor.
The Judging Process
Entrants send four samples of each pie to be judged. The
back crew at the Competition then picks out the best three
to be judged. One is cut in half, while one is placed in a
pie warmer for tasting and one stays cold. The half pie is
judged for pastry thickness and texture, as well as the amount
of meat filling it contains. The judges dig into the half
pie with a paddle pop stick to check for gristle and tubing
which indicates offal. Although three pieces of gristle are
allowed the pie will lose points as a result of this. Plain
meat pies must achieve a mark of 16 or more out of 30 to progress
to the tasting stage. Judges then call for the hot pie to
be cut into quarters and the pie is tasted by a team of two
or three judges. All judging is conducted blind so there is
no way to identify the entrant who baked the pie. If a judge
thinks that they recognise an entrant’s work they stand
down from the team for the judging process.
What Judges look for
A nice, even bake on the pastry, with no charcoal or burning
on the bottom. A big criterion is that the finished pastry
is the right thickness. Often the pastry is too thick –
rarely is it too thin. Ideally the pie should have a 2mm to
3mm base finished thickness. Entrants need to take into account
the absorption from the filling, which can make the finished
pastry increase to 4mm to 5mm.
Judges also look for good lamination - lift and separation
on the pastry top - and that the pastry has a good natural
colour, not one which has been artificially coloured by excess
Pies which reach the tasting stage are then judged for sensory
appeal; smell, taste, texture and aftertaste. The pie is also
checked for stability – that the filling doesn’t
run – and that the pastry is cooked right through.
A major benefit of participating is that judges provide comments
on each entry outlining ways to improve. This helps bakers
identify ways to lift their score the next time they enter.
There have been many cases where bakers have won a silver
award after winning a bronze the previous year, due to taking
the judge’s advice on board.
Thanks to John Ross for explaining the judging process.
The Great Australian Pie E-Book; a history and culinary adventure
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Distinguished Australian author Robert Macklin, a pie lover of many decades, lifts the pastry lid of this very Australian icon to reveal the history and affection Australians have toward the great Australian pie.