Eyes on The Pies

November 12, 2021

Thanksgiving pies get as much attention as the revered bronzed butter turkey and while some people find cooking for Thanksgiving stressful enough, making pies puts downright fear in them. Instant relief comes in the form of purchased pies and they can be very good or very bad but a homemade pie is a thing of beauty, edible art fashioned by the cook who chooses careful ingredients and manipulates them to taste.

Over the years, I have had my highs and lows with making pies because of course, it’s all about the flakiness of the crust! For what it’s worth, here are some pie tips to get you to the OMG, you made this reaction.

1. Remember the word cold because making pie dough is all about that. Flour should be cold, butter cold, shortening cold, ditto on water.

2. Measure correctly when using flour and use an all-purpose flour. Lightly sprinkle it into a dry measure and level it off with a butter knife

3. If your recipe calls for both butter and vegetable shortening, cut them into bits so they will incorporate into the flour very quickly. Too much manipulating of the dough will warm the butter and shortening and melt into the flour instead of staying in bits which help to create that flakiness you are after.

4. Chill the dough at least a couple of hours or overnight to make it easier to roll.

5. Dust a cooking surface with flour when rolling the dough but it is much better to roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper; that controls the amount of flour used for rolling because again, using too much flour will result in a tough and dry dough.

6. A 9-inch pie pan calls for at least 7 packed cups of filling if you are making a fruit pie. Skimping on the filling will cause a hollow cave effect between the filling that will sink as it bakes and the crust. Not a pretty look.

7. Glass pie pans give the best result because as the pie bakes you can gauge the browning results on the bottom crust.

8. Place the pie on a baking sheet to avoid sticky messes in your oven 

9. To avoid really soupy pies, either partially cook the fruit such as apples for about 5 minutes to thicken. Cool and then add to pie shell. Or add a small amount of arrowroot, flour or cornstarch to the filling and toss to coat along with sugar and or spices before filling the pie shell.

10. Pre-make pie dough and line pie pans and freeze unfilled for future use and to save time.

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