Pie Baking Tips For Perfect Results
Baking a pie isn’t hard to do once you understand the basics. Yes, there are lots and lots of little tricks that result in a flakier, lighter pie crust and a firmer, tastier filling, but even knowing a couple simple tips will give you a pie you’ll be proud to serve.
Here are the tips that I believe are the basics for baking a good pie:
The Tools of the Trade
No pie baking lesson is complete without a discussion of pie pans. Many bakers prefer glass pie pans for several reasons; they heat evenly and conduct the heat well, resulting in an nicely browned crust. The other bonus is you can actually see when the crust is browned perfectly.
Mixing the pie crust dough by hand is an admirable task, to be sure. But don’t overlook your food processor. For a fast pie dough, pulse the ingredients until crumbly, then slowly add the ice water, pulse, add, pulse, until your dough just forms. In a matter of seconds you will have the dough ready to chill.
These modern methods are great, but returning to the old days is the direction you want to go when you roll out your dough. Remember pastry cloths? You may have seen your grandmother or mother use them. Sprinkle flour on the cloth and roll out your dough. The cloth prevents the flour from getting inbedded in your dough while still keeping the dough from sticking as you roll it out. Purchase a pastry cloth and a cover for your rolling pin and you’ll have the perfect duo for perfect pastry.
The Flakiest Crust
When it comes to pie crusts, it’s not so much about the recipe as it is about the procedure. And when it comes to procedure there is one word that comes to mind – COLD!
No matter what recipe you use, make sure you have ice cold fat (butter, shortening, lard.) Put the amount you need in the freezer. Cut it into little pieces beforehand so when you take it out of the freezer it is ready to incorporate into the dough.
Prepare the cold water with ice, not just out of the tap. Cold water out of the tap is not cold enough. Take the time to put your water in a cup and add ice. Don’t skip this step.
Hurry, hurry, hurry. When making the pie dough, don’t waste time. You want the cold ingredients to stay cold. Also, when it comes time to form the balls, don’t roll them around too much in your hands. You want the fat to stay cold and not melt in the heat of your hands. After forming the dough into balls, be sure to chill it for at least 30 minutes. Again, don’t skip this step.
Now that you’re ready to roll out your pastry, grab one ball out of the refrigerator and proceed, but do so as quickly as possible. You should be able to see little flecks of unmelted fat in the dough. If you are rolling out two crusts, leave the second one in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out.
And last but not least, if you don’t want to make a pie crust, go ahead and buy one. There are many very good premade pie crusts on the market now that are flaky and delicious. Check your options and choose the one that works best for your situation.
Putting it all Together
Be sure to lay, not stretch, the pie crust into the pie pan. If you stretch it, it will bounce back, causing the crust to shrink away from the pan.
Follow the recipe directions carefully. If you need to prebake the crust, make sure you do. Most custard pies call for a prebaked crust.
For double crust pies, be sure to tuck the top crust under the bottom crust around the edges before crimping. That will keep the filling inside the crust instead of allowing it to bubble up and out.
Do cut slits into the top crust to allow the steam to escape, which allows for the top crust to get flaky and golden brown instead of soggy.
Brush the top crust with an egg wash (egg and milk whisked together) and sprinkle with a little sugar for a shiny and sparkly top.
Never, never skip preheating the oven. Be sure the oven is at the temperature called for in the recipe before you put the pie in. Use an oven thermometer if there is any doubt as to the actual temperature of the oven.
Now that your pie is baked, you need to let it cool. Don’t try to rush the cooling process by putting it in the refrigerator or freezer or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
Let the pie sit on a cooling rack for at least the same amount of time it took to bake. This not only let’s the pie crust stay flaky and tender, but allows the filling to set up so it doesn’t run out when you slice the pie.
Slice the pie with a sharp knife, serve, and enjoy!
You’ll find even more tips, along with FAQ’s covering all sorts of reasons why a pie may have failed, in my new Kindle book: Pie Recipes from Scratch-The Only Pie Cookbook You’ll Ever Need.
Click on here and download your copy today and you’ll be baking Blue Ribbon worthy pies before you know it!
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