Here’s how to build the perfect pie.
Anyone can put a filling in a pie shell. It’s the pie crust that gives folks pause.
Making the Crust
The secret is to keep the butter and/or shortening from melting. If the fat melts, the crust bakes hard as a rock. Folks chill their rolling pin and often ingredients before starting.
Use a pastry knife to cut the fat into the flour until you have pea-sized pebbles, add ice water, and mix it only until you have a dough ball.
Roll the dough to thin ¼-inch thick and cut circles for each pie.
Using a mix:
Put the mix and water into the bowl of your stand-type mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix the dough for about a minute—just long enough to get a dough ball. Roll it out and cut circles.
Forming the Crust
Baking the Pie Shell
For strawberry pies and cream pies, you pre-bake the shell. For most others, you bake the filling in the shell. Pre-baking usually takes about 15 minutes at a fairly high heat—follow the recipe directions.
Other Things You Should Know
The bottom crust can get soggy, especially with fruit pies, if it is not baked all the way through. The solution is usually a dark pie pan. A dark pan absorbs heat rather than reflects it.
The top edge of the pie is exposed to all of the heat. A pie shield covers the top crust, a ring, to reflect the heat. That allows you to bake the pie longer to solve the soggy bottom problem. Often home bakers will put tin foil over the top edgeto try to protect it. A pie shield works better and you don’t have pieces of tin foil falling into your pumpkin pie.
There you have it—how to bake a perfect pie. You can do that from scratch but it’s easier and quicker with mix.
And most modern bake shops use a mix. You can be assured of a perfect flakey crust—just like theirs.