A few years ago, I started making homemade pies to share with family and friends at the holidays. After trial and error, I have
burned a few pies honed my skills on both savory and sweet pies and even watched a video on YouTube to learn how to make a lattice topped pie crust (it really is easier than it looks). It is so satisfying to see the bubbling filling and golden brown crust of a pie come out of the oven ~ always a crowd pleaser!
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to download the FREE Gooseberry Patch Savory Pies Cookbook.
10 Tips for Making a Perfect Crust for Any Pie
Store bought crusts are always a time-saver, but if you want a blue-ribbon pie, you need to make your crust from scratch. It’s really not hard, and the results are fabulous when you use these tips:
1. Start with a no-fail pie crust recipe. This recipe for Butter Flaky Pie Crust (allrecipes.com) is a favorite and will probably make you decide to never use shortening or margarine again in your baking. The instructions are pretty easy to follow, too.
2. Use very cold fresh butter. For the flakiest dough, chill the butter really well and cut into small pieces. This helps keeps the butter from being over-worked when mixing the butter into the dough. If your kitchen is hot, chill the other ingredients and freeze the butter for 10 to 15 minutes before you mix it into the dough.
3. Make sure the butter is visible in the dough. While many recipes call for you to work the butter into the flour until it resembles cornmeal, you should still see a few larger chunks of butter within the dough to insure optimum flakiness. You can use a fork, but cutting the butter into the dough is easiest when you use a pastry blender.
4. Limit the water in the recipe. Use just enough cold water so that the dough holds together when pinched. Start with the smallest amount of water or liquid called for in the recipe. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add water by the teaspoon until it holds together.
5. Gently pat the dough into a 1″ thick round disk and chill. Chill the dough disk at least 30 minutes before rolling. Again, if your kitchen is warm, freeze the dough for 10 minutes to get it really cold before you start to roll it out.
6. Roll and turn the dough. Use a floured rolling-pin to roll out the dough on a very well-floured work surface. After each roll of the pin, turn the dough 90 degrees to help prevent the dough from sticking. If the dough starts to stick to the rolling-pin or surface, re-flour the rolling-pin and/or the surface underneath the dough.
7. Roll with even pressure on the dough. Keep the pressure of the rolling-pin even across the dough so that the edges are as thick as the center of the dough. Roll the dough out and away from yourself until the dough is evenly thick.
8. Brush milk or egg wash on the pie base and top.
Brush the bottom crust with milk or egg white with a pastry brush (before adding the filling) to prevent the crust from getting soggy during baking. Brush the top crust with the milk or egg wash to get a golden hue (to avoid burning, be careful not to wash the edge of the crust with the egg/milk).
9. Avoid burning the crust by covering the pie edge with aluminum foil or a pie shield (see below list of tools).
Place aluminum foil strips or a pie shield (much easier than foil) around the edges of the pie before baking. Be sure to remove the foil or pie shield during the last 15 minutes of baking so the edge browns as well.
10. Place your pie plate on a baking sheet or jelly roll pan.
The baking sheet helps brown the bottom crust evenly, makes it easier to remove the pie from the oven, and catches any pie filling that might spill.
My Favorite kitchen Tools for Making Pie Crusts:
Adjustable Pie Shield ~ love this for preventing burnt edges.
Adjustable rolling-pin ~ Evenly flattens dough and makes a uniform pie crust (also great for making cookie dough for cut-out cookies).
Ceramic Pie Plate ~Professional bakers recommend ceramic for pie plates since it absorbs and distributes heat evenly and bakes a crisper crust. It really does make a difference in results!
Pastry blender ~ Mixes and cuts cold butter into flour quickly.
Pastry brush ~ Useful for brushing excess flour off
of dough and for applying egg wash.
FREE pie cookbook ~ For a short time, you can get a FREE download of the Gooseberry Patch – 25 Savory Pie Recipes cookbook. This is a Kindle download, but even if you don’t own a Kindle Reader, you can still get the cookbook for FREE on an iPod/iPad/iPhone, Android, Blackberry or your PC. For dessert pies you might want to check out Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts cookbook.
What are your favorite things to bake at this time of year?
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