We all know that pie is the official dessert of Thanksgiving and the holiday season, although it is one of those desserts that can be tricky to master if you opt to make your own crust. I was lucky enough to take a pie-baking class recently with the expert staff, including pastry chef Kelly Jacques, from Breads Bakery in New York City where I ate a lot of pie and also picked up some essential baking tips.
And if you find yourself in New York, you are going to want to stop by for Breads’ famous BABKA PIE. That’s right. Babka meets pie.
1. Use Powdered Sugar
Why use one kind of sugar when you can use two? Breads recommends using a combination of both granulated sugar and powdered sugar (confectioners sugar) in its short crust pastry to prevent too many sugar crystals in the dough. The result is a buttery, crisp and smooth pie crust that is irresistible.
2. A Bowl Scraper is Your New BFF
Bowl scrapers can be used for so many tasks, from cleaning up the counter, to literally scraping the bowl. When making dough, it gets all those little bits out of the bowl and also helps the dough come together as you turn it out onto your work surface for kneading.
3. Chill Your Dough. Twice.
After forming your dough you will want to allow the dough to rest in the fridge, both so that it will be chilled and easier to work with when rolling out, but also for the gluten to develop as it rests.
Once the dough chills, you should roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness and line the baking dish (they prefer to use a fluted tin like this). Break off the excess dough and place back into the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes. This will ensure your pie shell keeps it shape and bakes without the butter melting.
4. Pre-Bake to Avoid a Soggy Bottom
After chilling twice, you are going to want to par bake your crust, which means partially baking the crust. Line the formed shell with plastic wrap and fill to the rim with pie weights or uncooked beans. (And YES you can put plastic wrap in the oven – it doesn’t melt. I swear.) Bake in a 325 F preheated oven for 7-8 minutes or until just light brown.
5. Don’t Over-Fill
Whether you are filling your pie crust with pumpkin, pecan, custard or apple filling, you don’t want it to spill over the sides, so fill to just under the top of the crust. If you pour too much filling in, it will be hard to remove the pie from the tin once baked, and the best pies are all about balance.
Ready to bake some pie? Try these resources: