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Pointers for perfect pies

Fine Cooking Issue 46

Here are seven of Carolyn Weil’s pointers that all add up to perfect pie. She advises also to always make a double batch of the dough and stash two disks in the freezer so you can easily put together a pie.

  1. Use a metal pie pan. The heat penetrates faster and therefore the bottom crust has a better chance of browning. But be aware that the bottom crust of a double-crust pie will never be crisp — how could it be, sitting under six cups of juicy fruit?
  2. Use a template to cut nicely round dough circles. Carolyn uses cardboard cake circles, but a pot lid works well, too.
  3. Always add a pinch of salt to your fruit fillings. It makes the fruit fruitier and the sweetness sweeter.
  4. Don’t overfill the pie. It’s tempting to pile on the berries, but more fruit releases more juices, and if the level of fruit and juices is higher than the rim of the pan, the juices will leak and spill over.
  5. Chill the filled pie for 20 minutes before baking. This lets the butter in the dough set up and the starch in the thickeners start to absorb liquid and swell, so they’ll perform better in the oven.
  6. Watch the bubbles to see when the pie’s done. Juices will probably bubble out of the slits during the latter part of baking. At first the bubbles will be fast, indicating thin juices, but later they’ll get lazy and slow, meaning the juices have thickened and the pie is done.
  7. Cool the pie completely before slicing. It’s tempting to dig right in, but a hot pie will be liquid inside. You need to let the pie come to room temperature so that the juices can set up and cloak the berries properly. The ideal serving method is to cool the pie and then gently heat a slice in the oven to get the butter in the crust warm and toasty.
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