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Cooking Tips: Pies

Pie Tips Pie Troubleshooting

See also Pie Central

Pie Tips

Baking a pie really is easy as pie! If you've never made piecrust, all it takes is a little practice (really!) and following three simple steps to turn out a tender, flaky crust every time.

  • Cold ingredients are key to a flaky crust. Using ice water and cold (even frozen) Crisco® 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. Voila!—a flaky crust.
  • Minimal handling helps to achieve a tender crust. Think of a nice, crusty, chewy piece of bread... it got that way by lots of kneading to develop the gluten in the flour. This is exactly what you are trying to avoid when making a tender piecrust. Handle the dough just enough to mix it and roll it—no more.
  • Proper rolling is another way to avoid excess handling. Roll the dough from the center out, lifting the pin after each roll. In addition to keeping the dough tender, this method will also help you achieve a nice, round shape. To easily get the rolled crust from the counter to the pie pan, lift half the crust, lay it over the rolling pin, and then transfer it into the pan. Be careful not to pull or tug the dough when fitting it in the pie pan—it can cause the dough to shrink when baking.
  • For a beautiful finish, you can glaze a double-crust pie with a beaten egg or egg white mixed with a little water. For an extra-special touch, sprinkle the top crust with a little granulated sugar. Bake pies on a lower rack in the oven, where the concentrated heat will cook the bottom crust as nicely as the top. About halfway through baking, check on the pie—you may need to cover it with foil to prevent over-browning.

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Pie Troubleshooting


Possible Causes


Crust is crumbly; too tender

Too little gluten formation

  • Cut Crisco shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal.
  • Chill shortening
  • Add more water; work dough more once water is added

Crust is tough

Too much gluten formation

  • Cut Crisco shortening into flour more thoroughly.
  • Use Crisco shortening that is at room temperature.
  • Use 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar as part of the liquid.

Crust is not flaky

Crisco (or butter or margarine) is cut in too finely

  • Use all Crisco shortening instead of part butter and/or margarine.
  • Keep ingredients and dough cold.
  • Cut Crisco shortening into flour in large pieces.
  • Chill crust before baking.

Crust shrinks excessively

Stretching dough when placing in pie plate

  • Roll pastry large enough to eliminate need for stretching.
  • Ease toward center when placing in pie plate
  • Prick crust thoroughly.

Baking pie shell immediately after preparation

Allow pie shell to rest about 30 minutes before baking

Bottom crust is soggy

Oven temperature too low or baking time too short

  • Increase oven temperature and/or baking time.
  • Brush crust with egg white and chill before filling.

Filling too hot when placed in pie shell

  • Cool filling before adding.
  • Add filling just before baking
  • Use a glass or aluminum pie plate.

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