It takes love and loads of patience to make the perfect pie crust. Emphasis on patience! There’s nothing worse than a crust that’s slumpy, soggy, or burned, or a filling that’s so sloppy it looks like a swimming pool.
Whether you’re creating a summer cherry pie or a winter chocolate feast, the devil is in the details. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll see smiles and eager eyes around the dinner table for sure!
1. Keep Ingredients at a Chilled Temperature
Don’t leave the ingredients near the stove. Most importantly, make sure to keep your butter and flour cold. The goal is to establish an atmosphere that stops the fat (butter or lard) from melting before it’s cut into the flour, resulting in the flakiest pastry.
2. Roll the Dough
A little sprinkling of flour will not always keep the dough from sticking to the counter. The answer? Chill the dough before rolling it between two pieces of floured parchment or wax paper. You won’t have to scrape up sticky bits, and the dough will be easier to move to your pie dish.
3. Save the Water
Always add water drop by drop and only use the amount specified in the recipe. Water is what kickstarts the production of gluten, and too much of it results in a tougher-than-nails crust.
4. Use a French-Style Rolling Pin
It’s the kind without handles. Those with handles encourage the baker to exert strength and weight when rolling, resulting in poorly rolled dough and uneven baking. A French-style rolling pin provides better control (you should roll without using any muscle).
Never soak your rolling pin in water to clean it. Scrape any remaining dough from the rolling pin with a spoon and clean with a wet towel. Heavy washing will cause the wood to fracture and deteriorate.
5. Shape the Dough into a Disk
Before chilling or rolling out the dough, shape it into an even disk less than one inch thick with smooth edges.
This is made simpler by having well-floured hands and a well-floured work surface. This step makes it much simpler to roll out the dough quickly and uniformly, and it also helps to minimize cracking on the edges.
6. Hands Off!
Make sure not to overwork the dough. The heat from your hands, as well as excessive stretching, might cause gluten production to go into overdrive, causing the pastry to seize up.
7. Don’t Force the Dough into the Pan
When lining the pie plate with dough, lower it gently into the pan, allowing it to fall into the creases around the edge rather than pressing or forcing it. When baked, stretched dough returns to its natural shape.
8. Brush Egg Wash for a Nice Touch
Egg wash provides a nice splash of color to crusts. Browning is more aesthetically appealing, and it also improves the flavor. Brush it over the top of the pastry, but leave the crimped edges alone. This will keep them from becoming too black after baking.
9. Turn up the heat
When your oven isn’t hot enough, the crust stews in the juices of the pie and never crisps up. The solution: Bake at 425 degrees F for the first 30 minutes, then decrease to 350 degrees F after that. Before you put your pie in the oven, make sure the temperature settings have fully taken effect.
10. Prep the Dough Ahead of Time
For easy, hassle-free baking, you can prepare the dough ahead. The well-wrapped dough can be stored in the fridge for up to two days. (Any longer, and the butter will begin to oxidize and turn gray.) You may also freeze it for up to three months.
Lastly, serve your pie with a dab of whipped cream to make it extra delicious and savory. With these tips in tow, you’re well on your way to making a perfect pie crust that’ll brighten anyone’s day!
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