It's Pie Time for Pie Season

June 27, 2011

Strawberries, blueberries, cherries and blackberries, oh my! It’s time to bake a pie (or two). Now is your golden opportunity to make a really good pie while summer fruits of all types are in season.

Sometimes I wonder if pie making is a dying art when I stroll the aisles at the market and see so many commercially made pies priced at more than twelve dollars each! Am I alone in the kitchen with my favorite pie dough, glass pie plate and trusty rolling pin? Am I crazy? I could be reading a good book, playing tennis or strolling the beach. There is something special about a hand made pie that just says home comfort in a way no store bought pie can. I love the sense of satisfaction that comes when I take one out of the oven and am hypnotized by its sugar and spice aroma.

I’ve been baking pies a long time, and along the way I have learned a few tricks to make the job less, well… frightening. It’s all about the crust. To some it is a daunting idea. Here are a few things to remember when making a pie crust:

For a flaky crust, the key word is cold. Cold butter, cold water, cold flour, cold hands.

Use a cold cheese grater to grate the butter instead of trying to blend it into the flour with a pastry blender or a food processor. Hand blending is tedious and uneven and a food processor will only heat the butter, which is exactly what you don’t want. Grating it into the flour will keep it in small bits so necessary for that flakiness that you want to achieve.

Measure the flour correctly into a dry measure such as plastic or stainless steel, not a glass measure. Or use a scale to weigh it for accuracy.

Use a glass pie plate if possible. No matter what other pie plates are out there, aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, a glass pie plate delivers even heat and allows you to see the bottom crust while baking. Nothing ruins a pie like a soggy bottom crust.

Roll your pie crust between two sheets of parchment paper. This eliminates the risk of using too much flour to prevent the dough sticking on your work surface or rolling pin. Adding too much flour just leads to tough instead of flaking crust. Remove the top piece of parchment paper when you have the desired size. Then pick up the bottom sheet and carefully flip it over into your pie dish. Carefully remove the paper and fit the dough into the dish and trim the edges. Fill with your favorite fruits. Then roll out the second piece of dough as for the first and lay over the filling. Pinch and trim the edges. Bake.

Ready to put these tips into practice? Try my Apple Fig Pie recipe!

Easy as pie.

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