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Pie Baking Tips

Useful and clever tips for pies and pie crusts.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Brushing the top crust with slightly beaten egg white will give it a glazed look.
  6. Brushing the top with milk will give a shiny appearance.
  7. Sprinkling the top crust with granulated or turbinado (raw) sugar will give a delightful sparkling appearance.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Always chill pastry dough before rolling and cutting, and always chill it again afterwards, before baking, to further relax the gluten.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Chill the dough for about an hour before rolling to help prevent sticking.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Due to the amount of fat in pastry and crusts, pie plates or pans are not usually greased.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Do not overwork the dough, less handling makes a more tender and flaky crust.
  22. For pumpkin and custard pies, brush beaten egg over unbaked pastry shell before filling. This helps prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
  23. A pair of kitchen scissors makes the best tool to evenly trim the overhanging edge of the pastry before folding under and fluting.
  24. 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.

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