throw the first stone fruit
Making your own pie isn't nearly as daunting as it might seem with our quick tips to make an excellent fruit pie.
To make the perfect crust, all you really need are three elements: fat, flour and ice cold water. It is always a debate as to whether butter, shortening, or a combination of both make the best pie crusts. While it really is a matter of personal taste, here are the facts about crust ingredients:
- Regardless of what type of fat you use, it should always be a solid fat that will melt during baking to create a flaky crust.
- Using all butter (make sure it is cold!) creates a more flaky, airy crust.
- Vegetable shortening (or a combination of butter and shortening) creates a more dense crust which holds together a bit better (especially if you are doubling the recipe for a top crust.)
No, this doesn’t mean baking while blindfolded. Blind baking is the practice of baking the crust of your pie without the filling, and is often used for fruit tarts and quiches. Simply follow all of the same steps as a traditional pie crust, then bake without adding the filling. Before baking, place the crust in the freezer for at least 1 hour (and up to 8.) In order to prevent air bubbles, place a piece of parchment paper inside the crust and fill with beans or pie weights while baking.
While canned pie filling is easy (and delicious), creating a pie filling from scratch may be easier than you think. The first step for a great pie filling is making sure that you taste test the fruit. Knowing how sweet or tart it is will help you determine how much sugar to add (in most cases, 1/2 cup of sugar is adequate.) Combine your fruit with a few tablespoons of lemon juice, cornstarch and your favorite extracts and spices, then gently mix before adding to your crust. Test out different flavor combinations until you find a family favorite.
Whether you prefer a full top crust, lattice masterpiece or classic crumble, it’s the topping that completes your pie. Lattice crusts can be simple and make for a pretty presentation. For an easy, no-weave lattice, roll your dough out into a 15-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 6 long strips. Place 1 strip across the middle of the pie and then place another strip on each side (1/2-inch apart). Place the 4th strip horizontally across the middle of the pie and the final two strips on each side. Gently press the edges into the bottom crust to secure.
Here are a few tips for the perfect pie:
- Keep all ingredients for your dough cold and do not overhandle. If your dough starts to get gummy, wrap it in parchment or plastic wrap and place in the freezer for a few minutes.
- Place the uncooked pie in the freezer for 15–20 minutes while you preheat your oven.
- Place your pie on a baking sheet in case your filling spills over while baking.
- Brush with egg wash or heavy cream and then sprinkle with course sugar.
- Bake on the middle rack. I you see your pie crust or topping starting to get too dark, tent with aluminum foil.
- Allow your pie to rest and cool for at least 30 minutes, if not longer, to allow the filling to set.
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