Perfecting Your Pie Crust

There are few desserts more comforting than a freshly baked pie. Pies are a staple at holiday meals, and nothing compares to a homemade pie straight out of the oven. A good pie just feels like home!

Eating pie can give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, but to bake it yourself can be rather intimidating. There are many aspects to baking a pie, so inevitably that leaves room for error; especially when it comes to the crust. But don’t despair! Honeybutter has gone through the trial and error process so you don’t have to, and compiled some helpful advice that will lend a hand in creating a perfect pie crust… every time! We've also included a recipe to get you started. Here we go!

Cold Ingredients

Using cold ingredients is vital. This is one of the key steps to ensuring you have a light and flakey crust. You always want to use butter straight from the fridge, and very cold water when mixing your crust. Cut your chilled butter into small chucks before adding it to your flour. Don’t worry if you see chunks of butter in your mix. This is a good sign that you’re on the right track!

When it comes to pies, using warm ingredients makes for a tough crust, as the ingredients bind too quickly with the gluten in the flour.

Add Water Sparingly

Again, it is very important to use cold water for this step. When adding liquid to your mix, it should be done gradually. Start with half the amount your recipe calls for and go from there, mixing and checking your dough between each addition. Adding too much water will result in a dense and hard finished product. You want to add just enough liquid to allow your dough to come together in a ball without cracking. Not adding enough liquid will cause your dough to crumble and fall apart when it comes time to roll it.

Freeze Before Baking

You ALWAYS want to chill your dough before you roll it out (at least 30 minutes, up to 3 days).But another trick to achieving that picaresque crust is to freeze your formed dough. This is a step that we never skip! Once your dough is rolled and formed, place your it into the freezer for15 minutes while you preheat your oven. Baking from frozen will help to ensure your crust maintains shape as it’s baking.

Handle With Care

Be careful not to over-mix or over-handle your pie dough. These are absolutely certain ways to lose that light, flakey pie crust. By over-working your dough, you end up loosing the pockets of butter trapped throughout which is what helps give your pie its ideal texture. Over-mixing and over-handling also encourages the glutens to develop, resulting in a tough, hard finished product.

Roll Right—The First Time!

Be careful not to over-mix or over-handle your pie dough. These are absolutely certain ways to lose that light, flakey pie crust. By over-working your dough, you end up loosing the pockets of butter trapped throughout which is what helps give your pie its ideal texture. Over-mixing and over-handling also encourages the glutens to develop, resulting in a tough, hard finished product.

Baking Temperature

When baking a pie, it’s best to start your oven off at a high heat and then lower part way through. Preheat your oven to 425ºF, and bake your pie at this temperature for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350ºF and continue to bake at this temperature until your pie is done. By doing this, you are giving the pie a chance to crisp up nicely and cook all the way through. Baking times vary depending on the size and/or filling of your pie.

Ensure Even Baking

A common and troublesome issue that occurs when baking a pie is having your crust and filling cook at different speeds. When your filling cooks too fast, it begins to ooze out of your pie, and creates unattractive burnt spots. Avoid this by creating a protective shield with aluminum foil, and wrapping it around your pie during the final minutes of baking. A good indication that your pie needs protection is if you notice the filling and/or top of your pie seems ready, but the base of your pie needs more time. Keep an eye on the progress of your pie so you know just the right time to add your shield. If you’re baking in a glass pie dish, it is very easy to determine the doneness of all aspects of your pie. If your are baking in any other dish, gently lift the edge of your pie and peek down the side. The colour of the crust wall is usually also a good indication of how cooked the bottom is.

To add an extra hint of golden brown goodness to your pie, brush the crust with an egg wash prior to baking. To give it some extra, EXTRA goodness, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Armed with these simple but important tips, you are now ready to bake the perfect pie crust for yourself! Impress your friends by whipping up your very own pie — from scratch! With the basics down, your creative possibilities are endless; so have fun with it! We can’t wait to see your creations!

As promised, below we have provided a great recipe for you try. Good Luck!

Classic Pie Crust

Yields one 9 inch pie

(Try replacing 0.75 cup flour with almond flour for a different take on the traditional pie!)

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add flour, butter, salt, sugar. Beat on low until mixture begins to form. It should look crumbly, with large chunks of butter still visible. Add half the water. Beat on medium until mixture begins to come together. If the dough still resembles a crumbly or cracking texture, continue to add water a bit at a time until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to 3 days. You can also freeze dough for up to 2 months. Remove dough from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Have your desired filling ready to go, or prepare it now.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface, and place into a greased pie dish.Pierce your formed dough serval times on the bottom and sides with a fork, then place it in the freezer while preheating your oven to 425ºF. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350ºF. Continue to bake for another 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

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