Pie Crust Tips


The following tips may assist in a more successful pie making experience or help you with some problem areas.

Dry Dough:

  • If the dough is dry and does not stick together when pinching a small piece of between your fingers, add more ice water. Add one tablespoon at a time, mix into the dough and then check the dough again. If still dry, add another tablespoon of ice water.
  • If all the suggested quantity of water has been added and the crust is still dry, the fat may not have been cut into the flour enough or is was not kneaded enough. Try kneading again briefly.
  • The type of flour and the working conditions may also affect how much water is needed.

Crust Cracks When Rolling Out:

  • Dough may have been chilled to long. Knead the dough briefly and then trying rolling out again.
  • Once the dough has been kneaded, allow it to rest for a short period of time to allow the flour to hydrate throughout the dough.
  • Be sure to roll the dough evenly near the edges help prevent cracking.
  • Small cracks or tears can be fixed by rubbing a little water along the crack, pulling the crack together and then rolling or pressing the seam to seal it.

Minimize Pie Crust Shrinkage:

  • Use a dull metal or unglazed ceramic pie plate. Avoid using glass. If you have to use a glass pie plate, allow a 1/8-inch overhang to compensate for shrinkage.
  • Nonstick pie pans can cause excessive shrinkage.
  • Bake at a lower temperature, such as 350° F.
  • Do not over-handle the dough when mixing and rolling.
  • Do not stretch the dough when placing it in the pie plate.
  • Be sure to chill the crust sufficiently before baking.

Avoid Tough Crust:

  • When adding water in with the flour and fat mixture, be sure to mix gently and do not mix more than necessary.
  • Be sure to add ice water and do not use more water than is necessary.
  • Handle the dough as little as possible.
  • Adding sugar or a small amount of vinegar to the dough will result in a more tender crust.

Flaky Crust:

  • Be sure the shortening or butter (or margarine) is chilled properly when mixing with the flour.
  • Work quickly so the fat remains firm. Work the mixture only until it forms coarse crumbs that resemble tiny split peas. If fat is overworked into the flour the crust will be crumbly when baked.
  • Keep dough cool while preparing.
  • Be sure to chill the crust sufficiently before baking.
  • Using shortening or lard instead of butter (or margarine) will result in a flakier crust.

Prevent Soggy Crust:

  • If using a moist filling, blind bake the crust before adding the filling to keep crust crisp.
  • For moist fillings, coat bottom crust with egg white to prevent crust from becoming soggy. See sample.
  • To prevent soggy double crust pies, be sure to make slits in the top crust so the steam can escape as the pie is baking. See sample.
  • Bake double crust pies in bottom third of the oven so the bottom crust cooks enough to prevent sogginess and so that the top crust does not brown too quickly.

Golden Brown Crust:

  • Be sure to bake the crust long enough for it to turn golden brown. Do not underbake.
  • Use unbleached flour. Bleached flour will not brown as nicely.
  • Brush lightly with milk or cream to give the pie a richer color.
  • If the edges of the pie crust start to brown too quickly, cover them with pie crust shields to prevent over browning. If you do not have pie crust shields, you can make some out of aluminum foil. See sample.

Miscellaneous Tips:

  • Use a mixture of fat for best color, flavor and flakiness. Use butter (or margarine) for color and flavor with a mixture of shortening for flakiness.
  • To prevent a mess in the oven, place the pie plate on a layer of foil or on a cookie sheet. If the filling overflows while baking, the foil or cookie sheet will catch the drips.
  • Kitchen shears work best to trim overhang on pie crust.

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