There are four versions of classic pie dough. 1. All butter dough has excellent flavor, but can be tricky to use. 2. Butter and shortening dough is flakier and more tender. It browns slightly faster than all butter dough, but has less shrinkage and holds its shape better during baking. 3. Lard pie dough creates the flakiest, crispiest, and most tender dough of all, but the flavor is fairly bland. This dough also has the least amount of shrinkage when it bakes and it browns more slowly. 4. Butter and lard dough has superb flavor and texture. The ratio of butter to lard or butter to shortening varies from recipe to recipe, but most call for half butter, half alternative fat.

Starting with cold ingredients are key to a flaky crust. Using ice water and cold fat (butter or shortening) is important. Chill the dough for about an hour before rolling to help prevent sticking. When the pie crust goes in the oven, the cold shortening will stay solid long enough for the crust to set, creating small pockets in between the layers of dough as it melts resulting in a flaky crust.

Minimal handling is very important in helping to achieve a tender crust. Handle the dough just enough to mix it and roll it. Proper rolling is another way to avoid excess handling. Roll the dough from the center out, lifting the rolling pin after each roll.

To avoid soggy bottom crust in your fruit pie, get the filling into the piecrust and into the oven quickly. Drain off any excess juice in the bowl before pouring it into the piecrust.

For double crust fruit pies, cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to get out. The escaping moisture will help prevent soggy crusts.

Bake your pie in the lower third of the oven since this will allow the bottom crust to become crisp while the top shouldn’t get overly browned.

To cut down on the sugar in fruit pies, mix in a teaspoon or two of baking soda to the fruit before adding any sweetener. Then start out with adding 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of sugar that you normally would. The baking soda neutralizes the acid in the fruit, which means that it needs much less sweetening.

Allow the pie to cool 2 to 4 hours on a rack to room temperature or until barely warm, before slicing to ensure that the filling is set and will not run.

Slice apples thinly for apple pie. Thick slices promote air space and create a gap between the fruit and the crust and this may lead to a soggy crust.

Cornstarch is a good thickener to use with fruit to make a filling because it does not impart its own flavor and yields the smoothest texture. It also does not thin when reheating a slice of pie.

To enjoy fresh apple pie during the winter, freeze your prepared pie filling. Just cut up and slice your apples and toss them with whatever seasonings and thickener you normally put in your pie filling. Then freeze in a greased pie pan and when the apples are hard, lift them out and wrap for long-term freezing. When you want to enjoy an apple pie, all you have to do is place the ready-frozen pie filling in a crust and bake according to the recipe.

Baking a pie with a raw fruit filling will take a little longer than one with pre-cooked filling, about an hour longer. When using a pre-cooked filling, pies bake at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time, just enough to thoroughly bake the crust and heat the filling.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserve

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