Although this may sound difficult, practice and diligence will assuredly pay off with delectable pies that will delight any guest.
A pie is made up of two distinct parts, the crust and the filling. In order to win compliments on your pies, you must master the art of combining a tender, flaky piecrust and a succulent filling. Although this may sound difficult, practice and diligence will assuredly pay off with delectable pies that will delight any guest.
The crust of a pie provides a shell or foundation to hold the soft filling. This piecrust is most commonly made of pastry. No matter whether you make the pastry from the basic ingredients or from a packaged piecrust mix, be sure to handle it gently and avoid over mixing. The individual recipe will specify whether or not the pastry should be baked before the filling is added.
Although a pastry crust is most popular, some one crust pies have other kinds of crusts, such as a crust made from graham cracker crumbs, cookie crumbs, or coconut. Unlike pastry, which is rolled out, these crusts are molded to shape by firmly pressing them into the pie plate. The crust is then baked or chilled before the filling is added.
Although pie fillings are many and varied, they can be generally divided into two categories – cooked and uncooked. Cooked fillings are either cooked before they are put in the pastry, such as the canned fillings, or are baked with the pastry. Uncooked fillings include those that do not need any cooking or baking. At least one kind of pie – Alaska pie – doesn’t fit into either category exactly. However, since it requires baking for a brief period of time to brown the meringue, Alaska pie is grouped with the cooked fillings.
Meat, vegetable, custard, and some types of fruit, cream, and Alaska pies have cooked fillings. Although there may be some variance, as a general rule, meat and cream fillings are at least partially cooked before they are spooned into the piecrust. The other cooked fillings are put into an unbaked piecrust uncooked and then undergo cooking as the pie is baked.
Good equipment makes any job easier. For pies, a well equipped cook needs a pastry blender, a rolling pin with stockinet, and a pastry cloth. A pastry wheel is also handy.
To prevent burning, protect the edge of the pastry with an aluminum foil collar during part of the baking. Fold a 2 ½ inch strip of foil around the rim, making sure that the foil covers all the fluted edge.
Before cutting a meringue topped pie, dip the knife in water. Repeat whenever meringue sticks.
For a nonstick crumb crust, wrap a hot, wet towel under the bottom and around the sides of the pie plate just before serving the pie. Hold the towel against the plate for a few minutes. This loosens the crust so that each piece of pie slips out easily.
Spruce up a pie by decorating it with pastry cutouts. Cut the pastry with small cookie or hor d’oeuvre cutters, or make your own pattern and cut around it. Arrange the cut outs on the pie before baking, or bake them separately and then place them on the filling.
Glaze the top crust of two crust pies to make them look extra special. Try brushing the unbaked crust with water or butter and then sprinkle it lightly with sugar, or brush the crust lightly with beaten egg. A light coating of milk also gives the top crust a pretty finish.
Published in: Cooking