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A Quick Guide to a Perfect Pie

There are few things more heartbreaking than working hard on a dessert, anticipating beauty and deliciousness--only to discover that something went wrong. Pies are considered the most traditional American dessert, having been developed and changed from tarts and other similar sweet pastries from Europe, adapted to tastes and circumstances. Of course, the Pennsylvania Dutch are the best known for making amazing pies--but each region of the US seems to have its own traditional pie. Making a glorious pie from scratch can be a daunting prospect; however, with a few tips, and the use of some restaurant supplies, your pies will come out right every time. Tip one: chill out! The first hurdle to making a delicious and beautiful pie is the crust, and the most common problem that arises in making crust from scratch is the tendency for the butter or shortening to become too soft from the heat of the kitchen or even the baker’s hands. This leads not only to crust that doesn’t cooperate when you’re trying to get it into the pie tin or plate, but also greasy or improperly cooked crusts out of the oven, which of course is not what anyone wants. To avoid this, you should consider cutting up the fat in question into small cubes and then briefly freezing it before you go to make your crust. Another good option is to use a food processor to mix the ingredients, pulsing to cut the butter or shortening into the dry ingredients. Another tip is to make sure to chill the pie crust dough thoroughly before rolling it out, and to put the rolled out dough--on the pie tin or not--into the fridge for a few minutes before filling or baking. Tip two: use fresh ingredients There’s a reason that apple pie and pumpkin pie taste best in the autumn--and it isn’t just the chilly air. Using fresh, high quality fruits and other ingredients for fillings makes a huge difference, even if it does require a little more legwork than pre-made fillings. For fruit pies, it can be a good idea to partially pre-cook particularly juicy or wet fruits like cherries, peaches, or strawberries or apples. Blueberries rarely need pre-cooking, but be careful in the measurement of cornstarch or other thickening agents that you use. By using ingredients at the peak of their ripeness and flavor, you can guarantee that the resulting pie is going to be as delicious as possible. Tip three: let it cool As unbearable as it may be to wait, it’s important to let your pie cool properly before giving into the temptation to cut the first slice. When the pie comes out of the oven, the starches that make up the key components--the crust and the thickened sauce of the filling--haven’t had time to set. They’re still molten; therefore, cutting too soon means not only a messed up crust, but also that the filling will run out everywhere, which is not what anyone wants. By letting the pie cool to at least close to room temperature, you’ll give the starch in the crust time to harden, and the starch in the filling an opportunity to come to its full potential of thickening, resulting in a pie that holds together from the pan to the plate in a beautiful slice. If you follow these three tips, you can be sure that the pies you make will come out--if not perfectly--than perfectly edible each time. Of course, there are slight differences to take into account when you’re dealing with cream pies and other types that require “blind baking” the crust first, but for the most part, following these key tips will ensure that you have an excellent and mostly stress-free baking experience. By making sure you have the right restaurant supplies at your fingertips, you can also ensure that you have all the things you need for a pie that isn’t just delicious, but is also beautiful.
2018-05-21 00:00:00
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