With Thanksgiving in sight, I want to give you some tips on how to bake the perfect pie.
I remember one of my Chef instructors at the Culinary Institute of America once said: “No matter what you do, even if it is a boring old apple pie, be sure to do it the best you can do.”
This always stuck with me, but I want to elaborate on that “boring old apple pie” since to me, it’s not so boring.
I mean pie in general though.
Have you heard the term “easy as pie”?
Well, pie may not be so easy after all~ at least not until we can master some of their finicky behaviors; and depending on what type of pie you are making those behaviors can change like the wind!
There are 2 kinds of pies, 1 that we call “cold preparation” and one that we call “baked preparation”
I’m sure some of you can name dozens of them off the top of your head that fall into either category but for those who may not be familiar with what I mean by “cold prep” it is basically a pie that is not going to be baked.
For example: Chocolate Cream, Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, Lemon Meringue, or Key Lime Pie just to name a few.
This type of pie is where you are basically just pouring in an already cooked (or not cooked, in the case of the chocolate mousse pie) filling into a prebaked pie shell.
Now we are opening up a can of worms here, because now you have more choices for the actual pie shell!
Typically in cold prep pies I like to make cookie crusts rather than pie dough crusts but I have done them both ways of course.
To me there is nothing better than a crunchy Oreo cookie crust in a silky chocolate mousse pie!
It is really your preference though.
Since you surely will not be baking a pie filled with Chocolate or Nutella Mousse, you definitely have to bake that pie shell first!
I use dried beans as my pie weights and a piece of parchment paper to make sure my dough doesn’t go flopping!
If you click the link above for Blind Baking a Pie Shell you can read more about that whole process.
Now onto perfecting the “baked pie” method.
These are your what’s known as the “easy as pie” varieties……or are they??
Here is the trouble with a pie like that.
Pouring filling into a raw pie shell and baking it altogether will often times leave you with a soggy bottom crust because all that heavy filling (and in the case of pumpkin pie or a coconut custard- the filling is LIQUID!) making it almost impossible to ever bake properly.
Now here’s the interesting thing about this.
When I owned my bakery many moons ago, I had what is called a “deck oven” more commonly referred to as a pizza oven.
You know, the kind the guys at the pizzeria use everyday and bake your pizza directly on the”deck” giving your pizza a nice browned crispy crust on the bottom.
Well, that kind of oven is superior for not just Pizza Pies, but bakery pies too!
Now of course we don’t have deck ovens in our homes, so I recently came up with an idea to simulate the professional bakery oven and that is: baking your pie on a pizza stone.
Get your oven preheated to whatever the recipe calls for WITH THE STONE IN THE OVEN to get it nice and hot!
Then bake your pie directly on the stone and you will have a nicely browned NON-soggy crust for all your pies!
Alternatively, for those who do not have a pizza stone, you can go the method of blind baking the crust first, but not all the way- just until it is starting to turn pale not even golden, then add the filling, top with your other pie crust (yes it stays in place even after that slight baking – watch my Peach Pie Video and I do exactly that!)