Our Best Pie Tips!

You might have seen me on TV last week going over what makes a great pie; It all starts with a good crust! Sounds easy enough right?! So why is it that the crust is sometimes under-baked, or over-baked, too soggy or too flaky, sometimes it breaks apart before you even have time to bake it? Have I been the only one struggling with pie dough for years? If it is so much easier to buy one pre-made and rolled at the store, why go through the struggle of this?

Since I was little, I have always loved making pie dough, the feeling of mixing it with my hands and rolling it out on our (overly) floured kitchen counter (and floor) was so fun. Although it did not always turn out the way I was hoping, sometimes badly enough that even my dog wouldn’t eat it, I had enough fun to try making it again, and again, and again. I had so much fun I didn’t even care whether it would turn out great or not… Until I started cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

Of course I still experienced a few failures, but I was then determined to understand why they occurred. I invested a lot of time studying the chemistry behind baking and why certain steps would lead to a great pie shell while others failed. Every failure was a learning opportunity and led me closer to achieving the perfect pie dough.

I am going to share with you some of the greatest tips I have learned making pie dough and why they are so important.

  1. Only use quality ingredients: if you are going through the effort of making your own pie shell, may as well do it right. Invest a few extra bucks on quality ingredients (butter, flour and eggs) and you will really taste a difference in your final product.
  2. Start with all ingredients at room temperature : this will allow the ingredients to come together more easily and create a homogenous mix.
  3. Use a nut flour to give your dough some character. You can use almond, hazelnut, pecan, or even pistachio.
  4. If using a standing mixer, only mix on low speed: by mixing slowly, you avoid the incorporation of air bubbles. It will then be easier to layer your dough down without cracking.
  5. Avoid over-mixing the dough: the more you beat the dough, the more you work the gluten protein. That will create elasticity in the dough and it will be harder to digest. So, once the dough comes together, stop mixing and let it rest.
  6. Once your dough is made, wrap it tight in plastic and let it sit in the refrigerator a minimum of 2 hours. This will allow the butter to cool, and the gluten protein to relax. If your butter is cold, it won’t be as sticky when layering down. You also want to wrap it tight to avoid the dough from drying, a dry dough will be a cracking dough.
  7. Bake your pie shell at 300°F until you get a nice golden brown color. And then fill it up with WHATEVER you’d like.
  8. The most important step is to have fun! How lucky you are to take some time making your own pie dough! Enjoy it!

I realize those tips seem pretty easy… Some may seem so easy you would not believe it’d ever make a difference. Trust me on this, it does!!!

I wish you all of the best and fun making pies! I look forward to see all of the wonders you will create!

Jenna Leurquin