6 Secrets for Baking a Perfect Pie from Scratch

Preparing a flaky pastry crust for fruit pies, potpies and cobblers can be tricky, even for the most experienced baker. Some people prefer to buy the prepared pie crusts found in the refrigerator section at the grocery store simply because it’s easier. However, it’s difficult to match the texture and flavor of a perfect homemade pie crust. By following a few tips for flaky pastry, even a novice baker can impress guests and delight family members. After rolling the perfect pastry dough and placing it in the pie pan, the rest is easy. Most people love cherry and apple pies, although pumpkin spice is also very nice.

baking secretsFollowing a standard recipe

The first secret for a flaky pie crust is to pick a recipe that has been tested over time and proven to be reliable. Some recipes call for vegetable oil, while others use shortening, lard or butter. The most basic pie crust recipe is:
# Combine 1 cup of flour …
# 1/2 teaspoon of salt …
# 1/3 cup of vegetable shortening …
# 2 or 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water.
To make a double crust, repeat the process, using a separate bowl, as opposed to doubling the recipe and using one bowl.

Mixing dough as little as possible

When making pizza dough, it’s fine to punch, throw and squish the dough as much as possible. However, with pie crust dough, it’s better to handle the pastry crust dough as little as possible once the water has been added. Use a pastry cutter or fork to mix the shortening in with the dry ingredients and then use a spoon to fold in the ice-cold water. To make sure the water is as frigid as possible, drop several ice cubes into water.

Flouring the board

Bakers always flour the board as well as the rolling pin so the dough will not stick. Use only a thin layer of flour so the dough doesn’t become too dry, which will result in too crumbly of a crust. Some people use waxed paper so they can easily remove the dough and place it in the pie pan.

Being creative with pastry edges

To place the pie crust in the pan, fold the rolled-out dough into quarters and place in the pan before unfolding. To make a decorative pastry edge, leave about 1-inch of dough hanging over the pan. Pinch the top and bottom pieces of the pie crust together to form a rim around the pie pan. Another option is to use a knife to remove the excess dough around the perimeter of the pie pan. Then take a fork and flatten the pastry around the rim. Make sure to dip the fork in flour so it does not stick.

Preparing the pie filling

In a pinch, some people use prepared canned pie filling. However, making a pie filling is not too time consuming or difficult. Making a homemade pie filling gives the baker more control. Some people like to add more cinnamon to their apple pie. When making an apple pie, there are dozens of apples to choose from including tart and sweet, juicy and drier. For a crunchier apple pie, simply toss the sliced apples in sugar, flour and cinnamon before placing in the pan. Otherwise, consider cooking the sliced apples on the stove in the sugar, flour and cinnamon mixture with a few tablespoons of water. Tart cherries make a better cherry pie. And, as a rule, fresh fruit is better than using frozen or canned.

Making a lattice top

A more complicated but attractive design for the top of the pie is the lattice design. Cut the rolled out pie crust into strips that are 1-inch wide. Place 5 to 7 strips across the pie pan. Weave cross strips by folding back every other strip that goes the other direction. Lattice crusts work best for most fruit pies such as cherry, apple, blueberry, strawberry/rhubarb and peach.

After pouring the pie filling into the pie crust and topping with either a lattice crust, top crust or crumb topping, it’s time to bake the pie. Most pies can be baked at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. Without a doubt, pies are more difficult to make when compared to cakes or brownies. By knowing some of the pie-making secrets, bakers can feel more confident in the kitchen as they entertain or surprise the family with dessert.

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