A year or so ago, I took a pie-making class from Heather’s Pies in the Twin Cities. Heather is a master baker who runs a robust cottage business out of her home in Minneapolis. Her pie class was enjoyable. You sit in her living room where a large table is set up, and she walks you through making a mini apple pie. She talks about crust, technique and gives you a few secret tips that have really upped my game.
Here are a few of the pie-making secrets I have learned from Heather and a few other influential bakers in my life along the way (Hi Kurt and Dolores, I am looking at you!) Find my best pie crust recipe ever here
Tips to Make the Best Pie
- Use a good recipe — ahem try this best pie crust ever recipe.
- Keep ingredients cold.
- Use high fat (sometimes called European butter) it makes a big difference in the tenderness of the dough.
- If you still feel like your crust is dry after adding the right amount of water – add a teaspoon or two of vodka. It will evaporate when baking.
- Refrigerate the dough after every step from making the disk to rolling out the sheets. Chilling the dough after rolling helps prevent shrinkage or crusts from slumping down.
- Handle the dough as little as possible. Hands are warm and warm up the butter in the dough.
- Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough – having chilled dough helps this process – more flour makes the dough tough.
- The rolling pin matters. Use one that feels great in your hands and moves well. Roll the dough towards you and spin the disk to keep an even thickness and shape when rolling.
- Bake on high (400 for 10 minutes to set the structure, then lower the temperature to 350 to finish baking fruit or filled pies)
- Vent double-crust pies to prevent soggy crusts.
- Pre-bake the shells for custard pies.
- Prick pre-baked pie shells with a fork so they don’t bubble up when setting.
- Use aluminum foil or “pie shields” to protect the crust edges from getting too brown.
- Use Tapioca pearls in the base of fruit pie shells to soak up some of the juices and help the pie not be runny.