Start with a good pan. Good cookware/bakeware and good tools make good food. Ceramic, glass or dull metal pans make the best crust. Shiny metal or aluminum pans reflect the heat, which prevents the crust from browning so are best used on pies with long baking times. Dark pans can cause over browning. For small families, mini pie pans are great, youPer can make several and freeze some.
Basically, if you use ice cold ingredients, work quickly, cut in the butter or lard with a fork, two knives, a sharp pastry blender, or by gently pulsing in a food processor, you can produce a good pie crust. Please note the tips below.
Pie Crust Recipe
Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
Put a cup of water in a measuring cup and add a few ice cubes. Combine flour, sugar and salt. Cube the butter, and work it in with a chilled pastry blender until the consistency of small lumps of peas. Work half the water in with a spatula, and keep adding water until it gathers together, the less the better. Knead together slightly. Wrap dough in plastic for an hour or two before rolling out. It will absorb the last loose bits of flour that way. It will freeze, but takes a day or so to thaw out.
Rolling out the Dough
Use flour sparingly, as too much can make the crust tough. If you like to use a lot of flour when rolling, brush off the crust after rolling. To size the dough, place a pie plate upside down on the rolled-out dough and measure an additional inch around the perimeter. If you don’t have marble or granite countertops, you may want to get a marble cutting board to keep the pie dough cold while working with it.
Choosing a Rolling Pin
Rod, or French rolling pin – these are often tapered, and are easier on your hands and wrists, moved by downward pressure of your palms; cheaper than rolling pins – standard length 20″;
Rolling Pin – a round cylinder attached to an internal axle, requiring more pressure to operate using handles – standard length 12″;
Wood – cheaper, lightweight depending on wood, but can stick to the dough and can’t be chilled;
Marble – heavy and more expensive, but will remain cold, especially if pre chilled; prone to chipping;
Stainless steel – pro look; can be chilled; some are heavy; may feel cold;
Non-stick – silicone, plastic or other non stick surfaces can be easy to clean and won’t stick; may not be able to be pre chilled;
Glass – these rolling pins are usually made so cold water can be poured inside to keep them cold; watch out though as they can sweat and moisten your dough if too cold;
Tips and Tricks
- cover crust edges with foil after the first 15 minutes of baking on single crust, or first 30 minutes on double crust, to prevent pie edges from burning
- add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar as part of the liquid for each cup of flour in your crust recipe to make the crust more tender by preventing the formation of gluten
- glazing a crust can make it tough, but a light sprinkling of sugar is ok
- make the dough up to a day ahead, and refrigerate rolled out dough in the pan for an hour if you can
- to prevent a soggy bottom, brush with sieved fruit or melted chocolate
- really juicy pies like peach pie can be baked low in the oven for a crispy crust
- to prevent sweating or runny meringue, warm the pie crust in the oven five minutes, then add still-warm (not piping hot) filling, then add meringue
- use a tablespoon of flour per pound of apples to prevent the pie from being too watery
- if you precook your apple filling the volume won’t change during baking
- if your pies bubble over too much, probably either your oven is too low or your sugar content is too low
- macerate the fruit for runny fruit pies, then reduce the liquid and combine before baking to intensify flavour while reducing moisture
- allow a fruit pie to cool until just warm (can take two to four hours) to allow filling to set so it isn’t too runny
- to thicken fruit pies without cloudiness or taste, use potato starch instead of cornstarch or arrowroot
- for high acid content like cherries, use tapioca to thicken instead of cornstarch
Please comment with any pie tricks or tips you might have!