No one knows who first put a pie together-we’re just glad they did! Times and tastes may change, but pies stay deliciously popular. Could it be because they don’t require any fancy ingredients, or is it because they’re so easy to tote? Or perhaps it’s because even a beginner cook can make a blue-ribbon pie with just a little practice and tips like the ones you’ll find in this chapter.
Pans and Preparation
Choose heat-resistant glass pie plates or dull-finish (anodized) aluminum pie pans. Never use a shiny pie pan it reflects heat, and your pie will have a soggy bottom crust.
The most common pie size is 9 inches. Even though pie plates and pans on the market may be labeled
"9 inches," their capacity can vary. Our recipes were developed with pie plates that hold about 5 cups of ingredients. However, we sometimes use up to 8 cups of fruit for a two-crust pie to give you a nice, full baked pie, because the fruit does cook down during baking.
Pastry and crusts have enough fat in them that you usually don’t have to grease pie plates and pans.
Nonstick pie pans can cause an unfilled one-crust pie crust to shrink excessively during baking. To hold the pastry in place, hook it over the edge of the plate.
Mixing and Rolling Pastry
If you’re using self-rising flour, don’t add the salt. Pastry made with self-rising flour will be slightly different-mealy and tender instead of flaky and tender.
A pastry blender makes easy work of cutting the shortening into the flour. If you don’t have one, use two knives: with the blades almost touching, move the knives back and forth in opposite directions in a parallel cutting motion. The side of a fork or a wire whisk works, too.
Easy does it. If you overwork pastry dough, it’ll get tough.
For a golden color, use unbleached flour in pastry.
A nifty tip for easy rolling and shaping: After you’ve made the pastry dough and shaped it into a flattened round, wrap it tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This little break lets the shortening solidify, the gluten relax and the moisture absorb evenly.
To roll out pastry, see How to Make Pastry, and pick the method that works best for you. Or try this method because the pastry won’t stick to the flat surface or the rolling pin:
1. Anchor a pastry cloth or kitchen towel (not terry cloth) around a large cutting board (at least 12 X 12 inches) with masking tape, and use a cloth cover (stockinet) for your rolling pin. Rub flour into both cloths. (This prevents sticking, but won’t work the flour into the pastry.) If you don’t have a rolling pin cover and/or pastry cloth, rub flour on the rolling pin and your kitchen table, the countertop, a marble slab or large cutting board (at least 12 X 12 inches).
2. Place the pastry dough on the flat surface and start rolling from the center out, lifting and turning the pastry occasionally to keep it from sticking. If the pastry begins to stick, rub more flour, a little at a time, on the flat surface and rolling pin.
Baking Pies and Pastry
Pies are baked at higher temperatures (375° to 425°) than cakes so that the rich pastry dries and becomes flaky and golden brown and the filling cooks all the way through.
To prevent the pie crust and pastry edges from getting too brown, you can cover them with aluminum foil (see Preventing Excessive Browning of Pastry Edges, below). Bake as directed remove the foil 15 minutes before the end of the bake time so the edges will brown.
To prevent an unfilled one-crust pie crust from puffing up as it bakes, prick the pastry thoroughly with a fork before baking to allow steam to escape. For one-crust pies where the filling is baked in the shell, such as pumpkin or pecan pie, don’t prick the crust because the filling will seep under the crust during baking.
To make crumb crusts even, smooth and firm, start by pressing the crumbs down by hand. Then firmly press another pie plate of the same size into the crust.
Pie Yields and Storage
Most of the pies in this cookbook make eight servings. If a pie is really rich, it makes ten to twelve servings. An easy way to cut a pie into an even number of pieces is to cut the pie in half, then into quarters, then cut each quarter in half before removing a slice.
Keep pies that contain eggs, such as pumpkin and cream pies, in the refrigerator.
You can freeze either unbaked or baked pie crusts. Unbaked crusts will keep for 2 months in the freezer baked crusts for 4 months. Don’t thaw unbaked crusts bake them right after taking them out of the freezer. To thaw baked pie crusts, unwrap and let stand at room temperature, or heat in the oven at 350° for about 6 minutes.
Tuck away a treat for later-freeze a fruit pie! For best results, the pie should be baked and cooled completely first. Then put it in the freezer uncovered. When it’s completely frozen, wrap the pie tightly or put it in a plastic freezer bag and pop it back in the freezer. Frozen baked fruit pies will keep up to 4 months. (Do not freeze custard or cream pies.)
From "Betty Crocker's Complete Cookbook, Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 9th Edition." Text Copyright 2000 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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