The pie crust is the visual advertisement for the rest of the pie. If the crust doesn't look appealing, your guests might opt to go straight on to the coffee instead. With all the work that goes into making a pie, both the pastry and the filling, it's a shame if the appearance of the pie is spoiled by a sagging crust. If it sags down into the filling, it can end up becoming soggy. A few techniques can help you avoid saggy crust disasters.
Things You'll Need
- Rolling pin
- Plastic bag or cling film
- Food processor
- Baking foil
- Uncooked pinto beans
- Pie funnel/bird
Cut your fats -- whether butter, shortening or combination of fats -- into small chunks and put them in the freezer for a minimum of 15 minutes before use. Also, use iced/chilled water to moisten your pastry dough. Use a rolling pin to flatten the pastry dough into a disc shape about 1 inch thick and cover it in cling film or a plastic bag. Refrigerate it for one hour before cooking. Keeping everything as cool as possible is vital if you want to get that perfect pie crust.
Make your pastry dough in a food processor if you have one. This will ensure even fat distribution throughout the dough.
Prebake your crusts if your pie is going to have a very liquid filling such as custard. Most pies benefit from having the crusts pre-baked a little. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy, which usually means saggy as well, when the extra weight pulls the crust farther down into the filling. Shape your crust appropriately for its destination pie and cover it with baking foil. Press the foil lightly so it is directly against the pastry on the sides and base of the upturned pie crust. Use uncooked pinto beans to fill the crust. This will help keep it in shape and not become too puffy with cooking. Prebake the crust at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until it has started to brown and is very hot.
Support the middle of your pie crust with a pie bird or pie funnel. These are specially designed utensils that physically prop up the center of your pie crust. If you don't have one of these, an upturned egg cup will do. If you use a food processor, keep the ingredients cool and prebake the crust, you shouldn't need to do this, but you can use it as an insurance policy for an important pie until you gain confidence.
Tips & Warnings
- Work fast when making your pastry so the dough will remain cool throughout the preparation process.
- Photo Credit pumpkin pies image by Katrina Miller from Fotolia.com
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