Impressing friends with your baking prowess is relatively simple in the comfort of your own home, but becomes distinctly more complicated when you need to transport the fruits of your labor. For example, packing pies to a holiday meal or bake sale without any unfortunate incidents requires a degree of forethought and planning.
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A Dedicated Carrier
If your pies are always in high demand, opting for a commercially made pie carrier might be worth your while. Simple versions consist of a flat platter for the pie, with a protective plastic dome and carrying handle. More elaborate models have a multi-tiered stand, and can hold two or three pies. For a more elegant and long-lasting solution to the problem, some companies manufacture wooden pie boxes or woven baskets with lift-out platforms for the pies. In either case, line the trays with a piece of non-skid shelf liner, cut neatly to fit. This helps keep the pies from sliding around, and reduces the risk of a damaged crust or spilled filling.
If you're reluctant to purchase single-purpose kitchen gizmos, versatile Asian-style bamboo steamers might be your best option for pie transportation. They're available inexpensively in pie-friendly sizes, they're designed to stack, and they allow steam to escape. That means you can use them to carry pies hot from the oven, without the risk of condensation making your pies -- or their carrier -- soggy. Stacked steamers can be taped together with duct tape while they're in transit, to keep them from toppling over during stops and starts, or nestled into a box or hamper.
If you don't wish to purchase a permanent pie carrier, do what bakeries do. Pack each pie into its own individual box, giving it a lightweight, protective barrier against misfortune. Some bakery supply shops sell them in small quantities, or simply visit your neighborhood bakery and ask to buy a handful. The cost should be minimal. If you can't find a helpful bakery, small pizza boxes are another option. If you're carrying multiple pies in boxes, tape or tie them together to prevent them sliding around and falling over in your car. Alternatively, pack them into a larger box for additional support and spill prevention.
If you're bringing a single pie in a disposable foil pie plate, invert a second pie plate over top of your finished pie and wrap it with a sheet of foil to hold it in place. This provides a lightweight dome over the pie and affords a degree of protection. If you're using a sturdier glass, ceramic or metal pie tin, use an inverted dinner plate as your protective cover. Foil should still hold it in place, or you can tape the lid and pie plate together at a few points around the edge.
Depending on the situation, you might need to take a few more factors into account. If you're transporting pies hot and fresh from the oven, for example, place a folded towel or a wad of paper towels beneath the pie to absorb any potential spills. Cream pies and custard pies, with their highly perishable fillings, must be kept cold. Stack them into a picnic cooler, or place freezer gel packs beneath the pies and wrap them with a towel for insulation. One last safety tip: Pies in a heavy plate or sturdy carrier can become a dangerous missile if you're in an accident. Whenever possible, carry them in your trunk rather than in the passenger compartment of the car.