Making and baking your own perfect pie from scratch can be yours this Thanksgiving. From making the pie crust from scratch to how to bake it so the pie crust comes out flaky and perfect. These 9 tips will help you bake a perfect pie from scratch this Thanksgiving.
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Making pies from scratch can a bit intimidating. But if you know a few tips, I know you can master making pies this year for your holidays! With a few tips and a few of the right tools you will be rolling out pie dough, crimping edges, and baking pies like a pro in no time.
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Perfect Pie Tip #1: Start With Cold Ingredients
You need to use cold butter for a flaky pie crust. I like to use frozen butter either cut into small cubes or grated using a food grater. And be sure to use ice cold water as well. You could also put your flour in the freezer to have that cold as well. Cold Ingredients have a harder time incorporating into each other, which means a flakier crust for you in the end. And by using cold butter, when it melts, it releases water which creates steam and separates the layers of flour. That process = flaky pie crust layers.
So start with cold, cold, cold.
*Pro Tip: If you think your pie crust at any point has warmed up too much during the process, especially the rolling out process then just pop it in the fridge for a bit!
Perfect Pie Tip #2: Use Ice Cold Water A Tablespoon At A Time
Add your ice cold water one tablespoon at a time to ensure you don’t mix in too much water. Add just enough for the dough to begin to form clumps. You just need enough water to moisten the flour and bring the dough together.
I like to measure out my water and add a few ice cubes to the water. Then I place it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it as I’m preparing the butter and flour mixture. When I’m ready, I then add one tablespoon of water at a time.
Pro Tip: Stir in your water with a spatula. Ok this tip, comes from The Kitchn on the science of making perfect pie dough– they recommend taking the butter/flour mixture and incorporate the water with a spatula. So whether you’re making it by hand or with your food processor use a spatula to stir your cold water in. Transfer your butter/flour mixture from the food processor into a bowl then stir your water in with your spatula.
Perfect Pie Tip #3: Handle The Dough As Little As Possible.
Handle the dough as little as possible with your hands when rolling it out. Your hands will warm up the dough so If at any point the dough is getting too warm, place it back in the fridge to firm up a bit.
This also means, don’t overwork it when making it- whether it’s with a pastry cutter, or you’re using the food processor. Especially if you’re using a food processor- don’t run the processor too much. I like to use the pulse feature so I can have more control.
You are aiming for the dough to form clumps the size of peas.
Pro Tip: When needing to move your dough, or add a bit of extra flour if it’s sticking use a bench scraper. Use a bench scraper to move it around so you don’t need to handle it with your hands and warm up the dough.
Perfect Pie Tip #4: Allow The Dough To Rest Before Rolling It Out
After you’ve made your dough, first let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to relax that gluten, and also get cold again. I let my dough rest for 30 minutes or so. Letting the dough rest for 30 minutes, will help ensure your dough becomes flaky and tender in the end.
Pro Tip: Let the dough rest again for about 5 minutes before placing it in the pie plate. This will help prevent the pie dough from shrinking in the pie plate when it bakes!
Perfect Pie Tip #5: Prevent Soggy Crusts With An Egg White
Soggy crust is the worst. So to prevent a soggy crust brush that bottom crust with an egg white with a silicone pastry brush. That egg white will create a barrier from your filling to your crust.
Pro Tip: And only keep your pie in the fridge unbaked for only a couple hours so the pie dough doesn’t absorb that filling and become soggy.
Perfect Pie Tip #6: Start With A Hot Oven Then Reduce The Temperature
Start with a hot oven (425F) then reduce the oven temperature after 15 minutes. This will help create a blast of heat that will help create that steam when the butter melts. And remember that steam = flaky layers. This tip works when you’re making a fruit-based pie where you don’t need to blind bake the crust but just plan on baking the pie crust and filling all at once.
Perfect Pie Tip #7: Brush The Crust With An Egg Wash
A perfectly browned crust is key. And it’s simple to achieve. Just use an egg wash before placing it in the oven. An egg wash is simply an egg with a bit of water that you brush on the crust. Use a silicone pastry brush to brush on the egg wash.
The egg wash will achieve that perfectly browned crust.
Pro Tip: If the top crust is browning too quickly, use a pie shield to help protect the edges. I place my pie shield on the pie, and then remove it the last 10-15 minutes of baking to brown up the edges.
Perfect Pie Tip #8: Choose The Right Pan
Go for glass. I recommend a glass pie plate. You will be able to see if the crust has browned properly. And it conducts heat well. Win win. As your pie making skills improve then opt for a using a ceramic or metal dish.
Pro Tip: Use a pie plate that has a wide edge as well. This will give your crimped edge somewhere to rest. And useful if you are using cut-outs or a braided edge!
Perfect Pie Tip #9: Bake your pie on a baking stone.
Soggy bottoms are the worst. I’m talking pie here of course, but in life as well I suppose. To prevent your crust from getting soggy, then pre-heat a baking stone on the bottom rack. This will ensure that the bottom of your crust gets golden brown and crispy.
If the pie crust is browning too much as its baking just simply move the pie to a higher rack.
Pro Tip: If using a glass pie plate or ceramic, don’t take the pie straight from the fridge (or worse freezer) and place directly on the stone. Chance are, your plate will break! Instead, bake the pie for the first 15 minutes on a higher rack, then move it to the baking stone.
For more pie information, download my Ultimate Pie Guide!
For more pie tutorials and recipes check these out:
Happy (pie) baking!
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