My Aunt makes a wicked good apple pie. The crust is perfect. It comes out golden brown, the lattice neatly aligned in it’s rows. You can tell just by looking at it that the texture will be just right, soft yet flakey, and that it will taste buttery and rich.
Now a confession: I have always been deeply intimidated… no terrified, anxious, keeps me up at night frightened, of baking pie. Now I may not be a professionally trained pastry chef, but I’m not too shabby in the baking department. I like desert (a lot) which makes it a necessity that I bake. Perhaps it’s my Aunt’s perfect pie that intimidates me? Or that you always hear around that pie is hard?
Not long ago I decided it was time to get over my phobia and bake a pie. It was my fear of emergency that motivated me… I just needed to be able to make apple pie at midnight if ever necessary. You never know when that type of thing might happen.
So I baked a pie.
It wasn’t that hard.
But I do have to admit the tricky part is handling the dough. Roll it out too thin it rips when you try to move it or it sticks to the counter and rips. (A lot of issues with ripping). Or when you bake it the color just doesn’t come out right, or the bottom gets soggy. I managed after some practice to overcome all these obstacles and now make a perfect pie crust. I’m going to share with you what I’ve discovered so you too can create the perfect pie crust.
- Chill your dough long enough. One of the biggest mistakes I made while pie making was not chilling my dough long enough. Cold dough just handles waaayyy easier. Different recipes have different chill times. Make sure you chill for as long as suggested. Perhaps even ten minutes longer. My Perfect Pie Dough recipe works best after 30-40 minutes of chilling. Some doughs may need an hour or more to chill. Place your dough in the way back of the fridge too. It’s colder there.
- Liberally apply flour. At first when working with dough I was afraid that using too much flour would mess up my dough. Not the case at all. LIBERALLY flour under your dough and the top of the dough before rolling out. Don’t be afraid to add more flour while working with the dough. The entire time your rolling your dough should not stick to either the counter or your rolling pin. If it starts to, add more flour. To get more flour under the dough use a bench scraper (or a metal spatula if you don’t have a scraper) slide around the edges of the dough and gently lift.
- Chill it again! If your dough is getting to warm and hard to work with stop right where you are and pop it back in the fridge as is for 10 minutes or so. Then finish up, it will be much easier to work with again once it cools back down.
- Roll between plastic wrap. Got a dough that’s just delicate and you can’t get right? Roll it out between plastic wrap or wax paper. It makes transferring the dough super easy. (No this isn’t cheating.) If your dough is sticky, flour in between it and the plastic wrap. Be sure to turn the dough over a few times when rolling. It makes it easier to create an even crust.
- Start in the middle and roll different directions. Begin wit your rolling pin center. Roll down. Return to center, roll up, return to center roll to the right… You get the idea. This helps create an even crust and the more even the crust the better it will cook!
Now lets deal with color and texture:
- Use an egg wash. One egg whisked with a little milk and brushed on the outer edges of your crust will create that golden look you want.
- Use “insurance”. I picked up this tip over at Food 52. If your working with a filling that’s runny or water heavy (i.e. berries) put crushed gram cracker, club crackers or something similar under your filling to absorb the extra juice. This will keep your crust from getting soggy and in the final product you really don’t end up tasting the cracker.
So now that you know the tricks it’s time to get over that pie phobia and start baking! If you have any other ticks I missed please comment and share them with me!