A great pie is a wonderful, hearty thing that people love and is a real crowd pleaser. Here are some pro tips for creating a great one.
1. Ingredients should be kept chilled.
Butter should be kept in the refrigerator until required. Vegetable shortening (solid) can be placed in the freezer and will still be easy to handle. It will not freeze solid.
Fill a measuring cup with ice blocks and fill to the brim with water. Iced water should be added to the pastry mixture a tablespoon at a time to ensure perfect consistency.
Remember – an exceptional pie has the ideal crust – perfect your pie crust making skills.
2. Keep dough refrigerated.
In order for the flour to absorb the right amount of liquid, the dough should be chilled immediately.
Chilling should take place immediately after the dough has been rolled out and set in the pie pan. This will prevent shrinkage when the pie is placed in the oven.
Double crust pies require additional steps during the preparation stage. First, roll out the upper crust, rest it on a flat piece of crockery (or on cooking parchment) and set in the refrigerator. While it is resting in the refrigerator start your preparation of the pie filling.
3. Do not overstress the dough – minimize handling.
Cracks in the dough should be patched over – rather than resorting to rerolling. Continuing to handle the dough will make the crust tough.
4. Try to minimize the use of flour when rolling the dough to the desired thickness.
This is because the dough will absorb the excess flour on the rolling surface – again toughening up the finished product. Once rolling is complete, lightly brush excess flour from the dough using wither a kitchen towel or a specialized pastry brush.
Choosing to decorate your pie crust.
A variety of cutouts are available in many shapes. Crimpers and braids will also allow you to have some fun while preparing your pie – and the end result will impress friends and family (see instructions on preparing a ‘fluted’ pie crust).
5. Baking plain crusts – or complete (filled) pies to set the crust.
Most recipe books recommend starting off the process at a high temperature and then lowering it for the remainder of the baking time.
For baked goods such as quiches, cream pies and custard pies bake the crust prior to filling and further baking. This is known as ‘pre-baking’.
Here are some tips on how to perfectly blind bake a pie crust.
6. Ensure that double-crust pies are vented.
To ensure proper venting cut fine slits in the top crust of the pie (you can use decorative cutters to make the job easier). This will ensure that the steam generated during the baking process escapes – this is essential for pie fillings with high moisture. An alternative is to use a lattice top when preparing the pie. Here are some hints on getting the lattice structure right the first time.
7. Make use of aluminum foil or pre-bought pie shields to ensure that the crust is protected during baking.
If you are using aluminum foil to protect the edge of the crust from scorching during extended baking make sure to fold two-inch strips along the edges of the crust.
8. To ensure the best results bake the pie on the lowest rack of the oven (on a preheated sheet type pan).
By using this method the baker avoids crusts that are soggy at the bottom. Using a pan with a rim also avoids the mess that a pie filled with juice can cause. Using this equipment avoids the need to clean an oven after baking.
9. Make sure you bake pies for the required length of time.
To get the perfect fruit pie, ensure that the pie is in the oven long enough for the filling to boil. Custard pies respond best to very gentle handling. Overbake these pies and the result will be a cracked crust and ‘weeping’ (losing excessive amounts of moisture). You can check whether a custard pie is ready by gently inserting a knife just shy of the center of the pie – if it is removed and is clean the pie is done (avoid the center as this will become firmer during the cooling process).
10. Cooling is essential.
Make sure to set the pie aside to rest before serving, otherwise, it will be runny. The best approach is to prepare pies well in advance of special occasions such as holiday meals – this ensures that the filling will set. Try a pumpkin pie recipe for an ideal holiday treat – you can find this traditional recipe on Foodal and it’s ideal for the autumn and winter season. Slicing a warm pie can be challenging and is not recommended.
However, some guests and family members may prefer their pies warm. If this is the case then cover the pie with aluminum foil (loosely) and rewarm the pie in an oven set at 300 degrees F. The warming process should take around 10-15 minutes. Fruit pies may need up to four hours of cooling prior to being served. Custard pies require slightly less cooling time – around two hours prior to serving or being placed in the refrigerator.