Getting to the bottom of pie

Between a coworker picking my brain for Thanksgiving pie ideas and Jenny's wonderful post about the Sister Pie promotion, today left me with pie on my mind. Of all the components of a holiday meal, pie may be the one that strikes the most fear in the hearts of home cooks. People who will tackle a complicated, multi-component entree or side dish often balk at making a homemade pie crust. Visions of leaky fillings, soggy bottoms, and misshapen edges lead them to turn to the safety of a purchased crust or even a prebaked pie. 

tree pie

One of the biggest fears of novice bakers is a pale, soggy, underbaked crust. That is one fear that PJ Hamel of King Arthur Flour can help you overcome, with an excellent article offering advice on how to get your crust as beautifully brown on the bottom as the top. The beauty of Hamel's tips is that they work irrespective of the recipe you use, because they have more to do with your bakeware and the functions of your oven than with the content of your pie. 

The material of your pie plate can make a huge difference in how quickly the bottom crust browns. Metal pans have an advantage here because metal transfers heat much more quickly than glass or ceramic pans. But fear not: if you want to use your grandmother's ceramic pan, a golden brown bottom crust is still within reach. Moving your pan to the bottom of your oven can help, because the heat is more concentrated nearer to the heating element (or burner, if you have a gas oven). 

In addition to these considerations, time is also important. If the top of your fruit pie is starting to get brown but the filling isn't bubbling and the bottom crust is still pale (easy to see if you use a glass pan), you can just cover the top with foil and wait as the bottom catches up. As Hamel notes, it is difficult to overbake a fruit pie, although custard pies are a bit more sensitive. Hamel offers additional strategies to deal with those, including a few tricks for baking in a metal pan and transferring to a ceramic one for serving (we won't tell if you don't). 

1 Comment

  • hillsboroks  on  11/14/2018 at 5:12 PM

    Although I have been baking pies for too many years to say I just discovered baking on the lowest rack of the oven this year and it makes a huge difference. I started those many years ago baking with Pyrex glass pans and loved the results but they aren't pretty to serve in. I bought some lovely ceramic Chantal and Emile Henry pie pans but struggled to get my crusts right in them. Then a couple of years ago I read about a new high tech glass baking company, Creo, that made glass pie pans but with various color coatings on the outside. I love them! I think they work better than my old Pyrex but are just as pretty as the ceramic pans.

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