I’ve said it before, I am not a baker – especially when it comes to pies. But, I am slowly learning. A few months back the lovely food blogger Cake Duchess, shared with me her favorite pie crust. Since then I’ve been making pies like crazy and have been having quite a bit of success. However there are still a few things that I need to master – like how to move my pie crust to the pie plate without tearing it in half!
So for those of you who are like me and struggle with pie, here are 15 secrets for making successful pie pastry. These tips were compiled by the editors of the new Taste of Home Baking Book, and have been tested by our very own Test Kitchen. They’re tried-and-true, and guarantee perfect crust.
- Classic pie pastry recipes are prepared with solid shortening. Lard, butter-flavored shortening or butter can be used for plain shortening if desired.
- Measure ingredients accurately, using proper measuring tools and techniques.
- Use all-purpose or pastry flour for pie crusts. Bread or cake flour will not give the desired texture to the crust.
- Combine flour and salt thoroughly before adding the shortening and water.
- Be sure to use ice-cold water. Place about 1/2 cup water in a glass measuring cup and some ice cubes.
- The key to a flaky crust is to avoid over-mixing when adding the water. Over-mixing causes the gluten in flour to develop, making the pastry tough.
- Chill pie pastry dough for 30-minutes before rolling to make it easier to handle. Pie pastry can be made 1 or 2 days before using. Shape it into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- A floured surface is essential to prevent sticking when rolling out pastry. A floured pastry cloth and rolling pin will keep the pastry from sticking and minimize the amount of flour used.
- Pie pastry can also be rolled out between two sheets of waxed paper. When the pastry dough is rolled out, just peel off the top sheet, invert it into the pie plate and peel off remaining wax paper.
- Gently ease the pie pastry into the pie plate. Stretching it will cause it to shrink during baking.
- Choose dull-finish aluminum or glass pie plates for crisp crusts. Shiny pans can produce soggy crusts.
- Because of the high fat content in a pastry, do not grease the pie plate unless the recipe directs.
- Never prick the bottom of a pastry crust when the filling and crust are to be baked together.
- Arrange oven racks so the pie will be in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven for 10-15 minutes before baking.
- If the edge of the crust is browning too quickly, shield the edge with a ring of foil.
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