Sunday, November 8, 2009

How to Make That Perfect Pie Crust

If you read my earlier post, you already know that I love pies!  A good crust is just as important as a delicious filling. Have you ever had a pie with a soggy crust, or how about a burnt crust? Okay, so you know what I'm talking about then. While the taste of the crust is definitely more important than the look of the crust, who doesn't enjoy treating people to a great looking finished product. Here are some tips, courtesy of Betty Crocker,  to help you make that perfect pie crust.

  • Use a pastry blender to cut shortening into the flour and salt, blending until particles are pea-sized. You can also use two knives, cutting them side by side (in parallel but opposite directions). A fork or wire whisk works, too.
  • Make sure to use icy cold water for blending—it chills the shortening and forms a manageable dough.
  • Go easy on mixing—if you over-mix crust ingredients once water is added, pastry will be tough.
  • Make pastry ahead of time for easier rolling. After shaping dough into a flattened round, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (or even overnight). This break allows shortening to solidify, the flour's gluten to relax, and moisture to be evenly absorbed.
  • Use a pastry rolling pin covered with stockinette on a pastry cloth-covered board—dough doesn’t stick to the pin and rolls out evenly. A lightly floured board is a plus when rolling the dough.
  • Choose a pie plate that is glass or aluminum with an anodized (dull) finish. Shiny pans can cause crusts to become soggy because they reflect too much heat.
  • Fold crust in half and then in half again when ready to place on pie plate. Lower the point to the center of the pie plate and gently unfold. Overlap pan edges with pie dough and trim below the edge, leaving enough dough for fluting, rolling, or edging with a fork.
  • Pastry scraps make great treats! Shape into small tarts for extra mini-pie snacks, or cut in strips, brush with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and bake.
Shaping & Finishing Pie Crust

Want to make a truly eye-catching pie? Try these ideas for beautiful edges and top crusts:
  • A fluted pie crust edge give pie extra pizzazz
  • Shiny crust: Brush crust lightly with milk before baking
  • Sugary crust: Moisten crust lightly with water or beaten egg white, and then sprinkle with sugar before baking.
  • Glazed crust: Brush crust lightly with beaten egg yolk mixed with a little water.
  • Glaze for baked pie crust: Drizzle a mixture of ½ cup of powdered sugar blended with 2-3 teaspoons of milk, orange juice, or lemon juice over warm baked pie.
Baking Pie Crust

Try these nifty tricks for well-behaved pie crusts:
  • Bake pies between 375°F and 425°Fso that the pastry becomes flaky and golden brown and filling cooks all the way through.
  • Keep crusts from over-browning by shielding them with aluminum foil strips. Remove foil strips 15 minutes before baking is complete so that edges can brown.
  • Before baking an unfilled pie crust, prick the bottom thoroughly with a fork. Steam created during baking escapes through the holes so the crust won't puff up.
  • Don't prick the crust of pies that you fill before baking (such as pumpkin and pecan pies). Otherwise, filling seeps under the crust during baking and the crust becomes soggy.
Tips courtesy Betty Crocker

Want to make your pie crust edges look beautiful? Here are some creative ideas from Bon Appetit.

Photo courtesy of Pin It

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