Pie Baking Tips
Useful and clever tips for pies and pie crusts.
- Baking a pie on a pizza stone absorbs excess moisture and makes the bottom crust crisper, especially if you use a pie tin with a hole in the bottom.
- For a two-crust pie, brush a little water around the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top crust. This creates a good seal once the two are crimped together.
- For a decorative top pie crust, use a thimble to cut holes, then replace the cut-outs back in their holes. The holes will get bigger as the pie bakes, making an interesting pattern.
- Cut designs such as apples and leaves out of excess dough and "glue" them onto the unbaked pastry by moistening with water the underside of the cut-out for a delightful presentation.
- Brushing the top crust with slightly beaten egg white will give it a glazed look.
- Brushing the top with milk will give a shiny appearance.
- Sprinkling the top crust with granulated or turbinado (raw) sugar will give a delightful sparkling appearance.
- Two ways to help prevent meringue toppings from shrinking. First, spread on the pie while the filling is hot. Second, make sure the meringue touches the crust all around.
- Cut out rounds of leftover pie dough. Turn a muffin pan upside down. Press dough rounds onto bottoms of muffin cups. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly brown. Invert pan onto a wire rack. Use tart shells for pudding and other desserts or fill with creamed sauces.
- Use waxed paper to measure pie dough. The standard pie pan is 9 inches in diameter so you'll need a 12-inch circle of dough. Since wax paper comes in a 12-inch width, simply tear off a piece 12 inches long, then roll your circle of dough so it touches the center of all four sides of the square.
- Always chill pastry dough before rolling and cutting, and always chill it again afterwards, before baking, to further relax the gluten.
- Use of a quality brand of vegetable shortening is a very important factor in making pie crust that is tender and flaky. My personal preference is Crisco.
- A pastry blender is a great help to cut in shortening evenly. If you don't own one, purchase one! It's the "cutting in" of the shortening into tiny lumps that gives pastry its flaky texture.
- Make sure the shortening is chilled. It will make the pastry easier to work with and will give you a flakier and more tender crust.
- Chill the dough for about an hour before rolling to help prevent sticking.
- If your hands are unusually warm, then "cool" them off with a couple of ice cubes and then drying thoroughly before handling the dough. The cooler the dough during preparation, the flakier the crust.
- Anchor a pastry cloth around a board with tape and use a cloth cover for your rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking. Rub flour into both; this will prevent sticking, yet the flour won't be absorbed by the dough.
- Due to the amount of fat in pastry and crusts, pie plates or pans are not usually greased.
- Nonstick pie pans can cause pastry to shrink excessively when baking one-crust pie shells. Be sure pastry is securely hooked over the edge of a nonstick pan.
- Do not stretch the dough to fit the pie pan, it will shrink from the edge if you do. Make sure to roll it out at least 1-inch larger than the pie pan.
- Do not overwork the dough, less handling makes a more tender and flaky crust.
- For pumpkin and custard pies, brush beaten egg over unbaked pastry shell before filling. This helps prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
- A pair of kitchen scissors makes the best tool to evenly trim the overhanging edge of the pastry before folding under and fluting.
- Prepare pie crust ahead of time—it keeps for about three days in the refrigerator and three months in the freezer.
Article by Hope Pryor. Copyright © Hope Pryor; property of CooksRecipes.com.