How To… Er… Wednesday: Easy As Pie.
I've never really understood that phrase. Making pie isn't exactly an easy task but eating pie is definitely both easy and delicious.
That's what the phrase really refers to: something that's simple and pleasurable. Like bubble baths, curling up with a good book and cuddling puppies. Try cuddling puppies in the bath with your favourite book while eating a slice of pie and you've really got something!
Pie crust can be kind of finicky at times. You might have formed the dough perfectly, tried the frozen butter trick, let it chill overnight and your pie still shrivels up like a raisin when you bake it. You've probably scratched your head about the mysteries of shrinking pie crust, but never really worried about it because, though it might be ugly, it tastes beautiful.
Today I'll impart on you the little tips and tricks that you can utilize to avoid the dreaded shrunken pie crust. Making your pie can be just as easy as eating it!
Make sure to come back soon to find out what flavour this glorious pie is!
Chilled pie dough, halved and wrapped in plastic wrap Flour Rolling pin Pie pan, buttered Unsalted butter Filling of choice Water Pastry brush
It doesn't matter what recipe you choose, pie crust can always shrink if you handle it improperly or lack the patience to prevent it. Chilling your pie dough after mixing it up is absolutely essential. I chill mine overnight, but, if time isn't willing, an hour or two will work in a pinch. When you handle pie dough this causes the gluten in the flour to tighten and, if not given enough time to relax, the gluten will result in shrinkage.
Knowing that makes the next steps super simple. Every time you work the dough, you need to let it rest to relax the gluten. Anytime you mix, knead, roll, form or fill the dough you need to give it a little time out to recover. Overworking the dough is a definite no-no. When adding the liquid, do it gradually and, when it looks like it's coming together into a ball, stop. Overworking the dough will also cause the butter to melt and your crust to be tough as a result.
What you need to know is that the cold is your friend. Whenever you let the dough rest, put it in the fridge for a few minutes and, right before baking, put it in the freezer for a few more. Just like you would chill cookie dough or freeze a tart shell, it helps the pie dough keep its form.
On a floured surface, roll out one half of your chilled pie dough for the bottom of your pie. When you've reached the desired diameter, gently place the dough in the prepared pie pan. It's crucial not to stretch your dough to fit in the pan. Doing this will definitely cause frustrating shrinking to occur. Press the dough into the pie pan and cut off the excess leaving a generous half inch overhang.
Refrigerate the bottom of your pie for about 10 – 15 minutes before filling it. Before filling your pie, coat the bottom and sides of the unbaked crust with unsalted butter. This doesn't have anything to do with preventing shrinking, but it does a great job preventing soggy pie crust. Once you've filled your pie with your desired filling pop it in the fridge to rest while you prepare the top crust.
On a floured surface roll out the other half of chilled dough like you did the first. Cut the dough into strips for a lattice top or braided crust, or cut shapes out for a polka dot top like I have. Carefully place the top crust on the filled pie then secure the edges by brushing water between the top and bottom crust and pressing the edges securely. Some people brush water on the bottom crust's edge then place the top crust. This might be easier, but leaves no margin for error since the water will act as glue and stick as soon as you let the top crust touch the bottom.
Cut off the excess and form the edge however you desire. That half inch overhang that I mentioned earlier can be your back-up plan. Always have a relatively wide edge on your pie just in case any shrinking occurs. If you have a wide edge, shrinking will be less noticeable.
Pop the pie in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes before baking it in a preheated oven.
And there you have it! It might seem complicated at first, but really you just need to be patient. Good things come to those who wait. Just remember that the cold is your friend and the rest will come naturally.