Pies & Pastries

Pies & Pastries

Making pie is easy as pie once you know a few steps. Here are some tips that will help your pie crusts and fillings turn out deliciously.

Preventing a Tough Crust

Preventing a Tough Crust
When you’re making a crust, it’s best to think less is more. Elastic-like gluten forms when you add water to flour, so adding too much, or overworking the dough can cause it to become tougher than expected. Adding a little liquid at a time, and just enough to hold the dough together when you knead it is the best way to keep your crust from becoming too heavy.

Shrinking Pie Crust?

Shrinking Pie Crust?
This happens sometimes when the gluten in the dough hasn’t had time to rest. Each recipe will give you a specified time to keep your dough refrigerated, which lets the gluten relax enough to allow the dough to roll out easily. If the dough shrinks back when you are rolling it out it has not rested enough. A sure way to keep your crust from shrinking is to allow it to rest once it’s been rolled out and placed in the pie plate.

How To Achieve a Flaky Crust

How To Achieve a Flaky Crust
Flakiness and taste are the two most important qualities of a pie. The shortening must remain solid enough to hold its shape as the dough bakes. As the shortening begins to melt, steam will puff the dough layers apart. This process is what creates the crust’s flakiness. To ensure your shortening stays solid, start with very cold shortening and make sure to keep it in pea size pieces when cutting into the flour.

Tip for Apple Pie

Tip for Apple Pie
Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated orange zest to apples to get a little more zing in your pie. This will amp up the apples a little and create an exciting new flavour profile.

Preventing Spills

Preventing Spills
Fruit tends to bubble over during the baking process so place your filled pie plate on a baking sheet first to prevent a messy oven.

How To Bake a Raw Frozen Pie

How To Bake a Raw Frozen Pie
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake your frozen pie for 50 to 60 minutes. If the crust is browning too quickly, cover it lightly with foil and continue baking. You’ll know it’s ready if you stick a sharp pointed knife into the center and it comes out hot.

How To Heat a Baked Frozen Pie

How To Heat a Baked Frozen Pie
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and then bake for about 45 minutes.  If the top is browning too quickly, cover it lightly with foil and continue baking.

Freezing Pie Dough

Freezing Pie Dough
Making too much dough isn’t a problem at all because it’s perfectly okay to freeze it. Just flatten your extra dough into disks, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in airtight containers or freezer bags to freeze. This way you can just defrost overnight in the refrigerator and you’re on your way to having your next pie.

Make Your Own Frozen Pie Filling

Make Your Own Frozen Pie Filling
Freezing your filling is a great way to take advantage of seasonal fruits. Measure out your ingredients and toss them with everything you would add for your filling (such as sugar, spices, flour etc.) Then grease a pie plate and freeze them inside– transferring to a freezer bag for longer storage. This way, when you’re ready to bake, you can just pop your filling into the piecrust and you’re that much closer to having a pie!

Let Your Pie Rest

Let Your Pie Rest
Even though pies come out piping hot, it’s sometimes hard to wait for it to cool. Be patient and wait at least 2 hours for it to reach room temperature, or your pie will be too runny to serve.

Preventing Dark Edges on Your Pie

Preventing Dark Edges on Your Pie
Pies need to bake until the filling is boiling and the fruit is soft but sometimes this causes the crust to darken. Solve that problem by placing foil lightly over the darkening areas and they will stay golden brown while the filling continues to bake.

Choosing Flour

Choosing Flour
When making a pie crust you can use either
Robin Hood® Original All Purpose flour or Best for Cake & Pastry flour, depending on what the recipe calls for.

Chilled Ingredients

Chilled Ingredients
Before getting started, make sure all your ingredients are well chilled. Cut up your shortening or butter and put it in the freezer for about an hour. Make sure you use ice water, and even place your bowl and flour into the freezer for a few minutes to let them cool too.

Cutting in Fat

Cutting in Fat
You can use a pastry blender or two knives to work the chilled shortening or butter into the flour mixture as the recipe calls for, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining. The pieces of shortening or butter help make your crust flaky, which is why you shouldn’t use an electric mixer as you may over work the dough.

Testing Dough for Proper Moistness

Testing Dough for Proper Moistness
Squeeze a marble-sized ball of dough in your hand. It should hold together firmly. If the dough crumbles, add more water by the tablespoonful until the dough is moist enough to form a smooth ball when pressed together.

Rolling Dough

Rolling Dough
Before rolling out your dough, shape it into a disc and wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Then refrigerate for half an hour (or up to 2 days).

Make sure your rolling pin is well floured before rolling the dough. This will help stop your pie dough from sticking.

Roll the dough from the centre outward with steady pressure on a lightly floured work surface (or between two sheets of wax or parchment paper).

Moving Dough to Pie Plate

Moving Dough to Pie Plate
Once you have your dough rolled, moving it to your pie plate is easy. Loosely roll the dough around the rolling pin. Centre the rolling pin over the pie plate and then unroll it, easing the dough into the pie plate. You can also fold the dough into quarters and then unfold it in the pie plate.

For single pie crust, trim the edge 3/4 inch (2 cm) from the rim of the plate. For double pie crust, trim the edges of the bottom dough even with the rim of the plate. Fill the unbaked pie crust according to the recipe directions and trim the edges of the top dough, leaving a 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang.

Fluting your Pie Crust

Fluting your Pie Crust
Flute your pie like a pro. Make a “V” with the top of your thumb and forefinger with one hand and place on the outside of your crust. With the index finger of your other hand on the inside of the crust, push the dough into the “V.” Repeat until you’ve gone all the way around the pie.

Preventing a Soggy Crust

Preventing a Soggy Crust
First, chill your crust for 20 minutes in the fridge before filling.

Next, brush lightly beaten egg white on the bottom of the crust. Chill for 15 more minutes before filling.

Bake on the bottom rack unless otherwise specified by the recipe. For most pies, start at a higher temperature then lower after 10-15 minutes.

To help absorb excess moisture, you can also sprinkle the crust with ground nuts, bread crumbs or cake crumbs before filling.

To Blind Bake Or Not To Blind Bake

To Blind Bake Or Not To Blind Bake
If you’re making a pie with a filling that is pre-cooked (like lemon meringue) or unbaked (like pudding), then blind baking is for you.

Blind baking is when you fully or partially bake the pie crust before filling it.

Pie Weights

Pie Weights
Pie weights are used to help stop your crust from puffing up while blind baking an empty pie shell without filling. If you don’t have any, try using dried beans or rice.

Pre-baking Pie Crusts

Pre-baking Pie Crusts
Method 1: Pre-baking without weights
Thoroughly prick the bottom and sides of the unbaked pie dough with a fork (50 times) to prevent it from blistering or rising. Bake your crust in the lower third of oven at 425°F (210°C) for 16-20 minutes or until the edges and bottom are golden brown.

Method 2: Pre-baking with weights
Thoroughly prick the bottom and sides of the unbaked pie dough with a fork (50 times) to prevent it from blistering or rising. Chill or freeze it for 30 minutes, then line the pie dough snugly with foil or parchment paper. Fill it with dried beans or pie weights and bake at 375°F (190°C) for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, then reduce the oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the edges and bottom are golden brown.

Frozen Fruit

Frozen Fruit
If using frozen fruit, toss your fruit in flour before filling your crust.

Choosing Apples for Pies

Choosing Apples for Pies
Crisp apples hold up best in pies. These include Royal Gala, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Honey Crisp and Fuji.

Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree
Bake a halved pie pumpkin at 350°F (180°C) for about 1 ½ hours. To test whether it is done, it should feel tender when you pierce a fork into the pumpkin flesh. Cool, then scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork.

Glazes for Top Crust

Glazes for Top Crust
For a shiny, deep golden pie crust, brush with egg yolk beaten with a little water or milk before baking.
For a sugary, sweet pie crust, brush lightly with water, milk or cream then sprinkle with sugar.

Looking for more tips or baking advice? Ask the Robin Hood Community for help!

The community is the place for bakers to get together, talk about baking successes, ask questions and share pictures of their latest treats.