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15 Pie Baking Tips To Share With Your Thanksgiving Crew

Make the best crust of your life thanks to one secret ingredient.

A warm, flaky pie is the star of every holiday meal.

While you could easily get a store-bought pie, there's something so magically delicious about a homemade one. Besides, making a pie crust from scratch isn't so hard or intimidating if you keep just a few of these easy tips in mind. And if you're feeling inspired, head down to the bottom of the post for the perfect pie crust recipe.

1. Use a hard fat instead of a liquid fat.

2. ...And opt for butter instead of shortening or a combination of the two.

3. For added richness, use egg yolk in the dough.

4. Rub butter into your flour mixture, instead of blending it in.

5. Use freezing cold water in your dough to make sure the fats stay cold.

6. Wrap your pie crust dough around a rolling pin to safely move it from your kitchen counter and into your pan.

7. Use your knuckles to crimp the crust and give it its iconic shape.

8. Use an egg wash to moisture-proof your pie crust.

9. Tap pie filling on a hard surface to pop bubbles.

10. For a perfect bake, pop your pie into an extra hot oven, then lower the temperature.

11. If you're using apple slices, put them in a lemon water bath to keep them from browning between steps.

12. And let your apples macerate if you don't want a watery apple pie.

13. Sprinkle the top crust of your pies with sanding sugar for extra texture.

14. Don't forget to cut holes in your fruit pie's top crust.

15. And for the perfect, clean slice of apple pie, slice yourself a messy, thin one first.

And if you want to try your hand at your own homemade pie crust, here's the recipe:

PERFECT PIE CRUST

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Pinch of kosher salt

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, diced and chilled

2 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons ice water

PREPARATION

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.

Using only your fingertips, pinch the cubes of butter into the flour, breaking up the butter as you go, until no large lumps remain. Shake the bowl to force the large chunks of butter to the surface. If you have warm hands or this is taking too long, you can chill the bowl into the refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool back down--you don’t want this to be greasy at all!

Mix the egg yolks and ice water together in a small bowl with a fork until evenly combined. Add the liquid to the flour mixture, reserving ¼ or so in case you don’t need all of it--you don’t want the pastry to be too wet. Quickly mix everything together with a dinner fork until the dough just starts to come together. Add more liquid to the driest parts of the dough if needed. The dough is ready when it holds together in a ball when squeezed in your palm.

Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and bring the dough together. You don’t want to overwork the dough, but you need to work it enough that it is a cohesive disc with no real cracks or very dry bits.

Wrap the dough disc in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. The dough can sit in the fridge for up to 4 days, otherwise double wrap in plastic or in a zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Lightly flour your work surface and unwrap a disc of chilled dough. Flour the top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, push down on the dough, giving it a quarter turn every few smushes, to spread the dough evenly and ensure it doesn’t stick to the surface. Start to roll out the dough, continuing to turn. If any cracks form, smush them back together. Roll out the dough to a circle about ⅛-inch thick.

PUMPKIN PIE (ROASTED CAN)

Makes 1 10-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

1 premade pie crust, rolled out to ⅛-inch thick

FILLING

24 ounces unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon allspice

⅛ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1½ cups half-and-half

Egg, beaten for egg wash

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).

Gently lay the rolled-out pie crust in a 10-inch pie dish. Trim the excess dough around the sides, tuck the dough under the edge, and crimp the edges using the index finger knuckle on one hand and the thumb and index finger on your other hand. Chill in the refrigerator for 14-20 minutes.

Make the filling: Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and salt to a medium bowl and mix until combined.

Spread the pumpkin puree mixture onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until it looks slightly dried out.

Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F (200˚C).

Scrape the puree into a large bowl and add the granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, egg yolk, and half-and-half. Whisk until smooth and well combined.

After chilling the crust, crumple a piece of parchment paper, then spread it out in the center of the crust. Add dried chickpeas or baking beans to the center and spread toward the sides of the crust--this will add weight to keep the crust from puffing up and hold up the walls.

Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden and there are no raw doughy spots.

Increase the oven temperature to 425˚F (220˚C).

Pour the filling into the prebaked crust. Brush the edges of the crust with egg wash.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F (180˚C) and continue to bake for 30-35 minutes more, until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly when shaken.

Let cool at room temp for at least 2 hours, or in the fridge overnight.

Slice and serve.

Enjoy!

PUMPKIN PIE (FRESH PUMPKIN PIE)

Makes 1 10-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

1 premade pie crust, rolled out to ⅛-inch thick

FILLING

1 2⅓-3 pound sugar pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon allspice

⅛ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1¼ cups half-and-half

Egg, beaten for egg wash

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Gently lay the rolled-out pie crust in a pie dish. Trim the excess dough around the sides, tuck the dough under the edge, and crimp the edges using the index finger knuckle on one hand and the thumb and index finger on your other hand. Chill in the refrigerator for 14-20 minutes.

After chilling the crust, crumple a piece of parchment paper, then spread it out in the center of the crust. Add dried chickpeas or baking beans to the center and spread toward the sides of the crust--this will add weight to keep the crust from puffing up and hold up the walls.

Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden and there are no raw doughy spots.

Cut the sugar pumpkin into 8 wedges. Use a paring knife or spoon remove all of the seeds and pulp.

Place the pumpkin on the prepared baking sheet and dry roast for 15-20 minutes, until tender.

Let the pumpkin cool slightly, then peel off the skin using your hands or a spoon.

Increase the oven temperature to 425˚F (220˚C).

Add 16 ounces of the pumpkin to a food processor, along with the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and half-and-half. Puree until very smooth, 6-8 minutes.

Pour the filling into the prebaked crust. Brush the edges of the crust with egg wash.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F (180˚C) and continue to bake for 30-35 minutes more, until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly when shaken.

Let cool at room temp for at least 2 hours, or in the fridge overnight

Slice and serve.

Enjoy!

APPLE PIE (MACERATED)

Makes 1 10-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

5 pounds Granny Smith apples

1 cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon fine salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

⅓ cup fresh lemon juice

3½ tablespoons cornstarch, divided

3 tablespoons water

3½ tablespoons unsalted butter

2 premade pie crusts, rolled out to ⅛-inch thick

Egg wash

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

PREPARATION

Peel and thinly slice the apples (keep the apples in a bowl of lemon water as you go to prevent browning).

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, lemon juice, and half of the cornstarch. Once the apples are well coated, let sit and macerate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).

Transfer the apples to a colander set over a medium bowl and let drain for about 15 minutes, until all of the liquid is drawn out.

Transfer the liquid released from the apples to a small pot over low heat.

In a small bowl, mix the rest of the cornstarch and the water to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the apple liquid and quickly stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil, then add the butter and stir until melted. Immediately remove from the heat and pour over the apples, stirring to coat.

Gently drape 1 rolled-out pie crust in a 10-inch pie dish.

Lay the apples in the pie crust, making sure they are flat and the rounded edges face out in order to fit as many apples as possible in the crust. Pour any leftover liquid from the bowl over the apples.

Top with the other rolled-out pie crust. Trim the excess dough from the edges, press the 2 crusts together to seal, then fold the edges under. Crimp the edges,

Brush all over with egg wash and sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Use a paring knife to cut a few vents in the top for steam to escape.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

Let cool for at least 1 hour, then slice and serve.

Enjoy!

Find more tips on how to make the perfect pie here.

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