Tutorials & Tips

10 Tips to Becoming a Pie Pro

14 Ways to Use a Food Processor 10 Tips to Becoming a Pie Pro

Our Test Kitchen here at Hamilton Beach makes a lot of pies (and other tasty treats) — which means they have a lot of experience baking the perfect pie. If you’ve ever been intimidated by a pie crust or filling, these 10 simple tips will help you create a superior pie, every time.

  1. Don’t Overwork the Dough
    Perfect pie dough starts with just barely incorporating butter into the dry ingredients. Overworking the dough can lead to one tough crust. The ingredients should never be completely blended— pieces of butter from the size of a pea to a small marble should be easily visible in the dough and will help you achieve a flaky and tender crust.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Use a food processor to blend butter into the dry ingredients. Using the pulse setting lets you control how blended the ingredients get with just a few pulses.

  2. Keep Butter Chilled and Water Ice Cold
    Cold butter leads to a deliciously flaky crust, so leave it in the refrigerator until you are ready to incorporate it into the dry ingredients. If water is called for in the recipe, use ice water to form the dough without melting the butter.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Try putting your butter in the freezer for 10 minutes before adding it to your dry ingredients. Your hands can transfer heat to the dough, so using a food processor helps keep your ingredients cold throughout the process.

  3. Make Your Crust the Right Size
    Make Your Crust the Right Size Rolling dough out large enough so you do not have to stretch it to cover your pie pan is critical to ensuring your pie does not shrink while it is baking. Start by sprinkling a pastry cloth or parchment paper (and your rolling pin) lightly with flour, then roll the dough out starting from the center and rolling outward each time. Every few rolls, turn your dough a quarter turn so you can roll it out evenly. A cold surface will work best.

    Test Kitchen Tip: To determine how large your dough needs to be for your pie pan, take the width of your pie pan and add twice the height — for example, a 9"W x 1-1/2"H pie pan needs a 12"W bottom crust.

  4. Select the Right Pan
    Choose a glass pan or an aluminum one with a dull finish. Never use shiny pans because they deflect heat and can result in a crust with a soggy bottom.
  5. Par-Bake Your Crust
    Par-baking (or blind baking) is when you pre-bake the crust. It’s essential when you are making a custard pie, but it’s also an easy technique to prevent your fruit pies from coming out soggy. For pies that are not going to get baked once they are filled (like a refrigerator pie), you need to par-bake the crust, too.

    Test Kitchen Tip: If you are par-baking your pie dough, prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork (also called "docking") to prevent your crust from bubbling up during baking. These tiny holes allow steam to escape, preventing the crust from puffing up. Alternatively, you can line the uncooked crust with parchment paper or foil and fill it with pie weights, uncooked rice or dried beans to hold it down. When it’s done baking, you can pull everything up without any sticking.

  6. Let Dough Rest
    Pie crust needs to be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator to rest for about 30 minutes before rolling.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Resting of the pie dough allows the gluten to relax, which helps with creating a flaky pie crust.

  7. Let Baked Pies Cool Before Cutting
    Magnificent MeringueIf you cut a pie too soon after baking, your filling may not have had time to set and will spill out of the crust. The pie plate should be cool to the touch when you place your hand on the bottom center before you slice into it.
  8. Make a Magnificent Meringue
    Light and fluffy meringuetops many pies like Lemon Meringue, a classic summer favorite. The same tip applies to meringues thatapplies to pie dough — don’t overwork it. If you overbeat your meringue, it won’t hold the peaks you need for pie perfection. Gradually add in sugar as soon as your egg whites foam so it has time to dissolve without the risk of overbeating.

    Test Kitchen Tip: The meringue should be stiff and glossy, and the sugar should be dissolved. If it breaks down or separates, it’s overbeaten. Add a little cornstarch to the meringue to help it firm up and retain shape by absorbing extra moisture.

  9. Adorn Your Pie
    Give leftover pie crust a new purpose as festive touches to your pies. Extra dough can quickly become leaves or other shapes using a knife or small cookie cutters.Adorn Your Pie

    Test Kitchen Tip: Follow our recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Pie Crust Chips and use them to decorate your pie or as a delicious chip for scooping up sweet dips.

  10. Protect Your Crust Edges
    Use a pie shield to keep those beautiful crimps and twists you added to your pie crust perfectly golden brown and not burned to a crisp.

    Test Kitchen Tip: It’s easy to make a pie shield at home — just cut a piece of aluminum foil that is as big as your pie, then fold it into quarters. Round the edges by cutting the outside corners, and cut out the center following the same curve until you have a two inch circle of foil left. Just unfold the foil, place it around your pie so it covers the outer edges of the crust and bake. Make sure to remove the foil 20 minutes before the pie is done.

  11. Prep Your Pie Crust in Advance
    You can make your pie crust in advance and freeze it, which means it will have ample time to rest and will be properly chilled for baking whenever you want to make a pie. Making your pie crust in advance is a great time-saver for busy holiday baking sessions, too.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Form dough into flat disks, shape the dough into disposable pie pans, or freeze fruit pies as a whole, unbaked pie. However you decide to freeze your dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, aluminum foil or slide in a freezer bag before placing it in the freezer.

  12. Spice Up Your Serve
    Take your pie to the next level when you serve a fresh slice of homemade pie with a simple drizzle of salted caramel, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some fresh whipped cream, or a few chocolate curls.

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