I’ve made a fair amount of different types of pie crust in the relatively short time that I have been a pie baker. And, as a result, I have managed to pick up a rather substantial number of helpful but essential tips, both from trial and error and learning along the way, to craft the perfect pie crust each and every time.
Some of these tips may seem pretty straight forward and obvious and some may be things you never really knew. In any case, my hope is, that some or all of these can help you in some way, shape or form, when you’re putting together your own perfect pie crust.
9 Tips for the Perfect Pie Crust
1. Ingredients Need to be Cold
For flaky butter pie crusts, your butter needs to be kept COLD! So don’t pull that out of the refrigerator until the last possible moment. And, not only the butter, but you should also chill the FLOUR that end up using for the pie crust. Take your bowl of FLOUR and place that in the freezer for a few minutes. Also, if you use a PASTRY CUTTER, throw that in the freezer as well. Everything that can be chilled and kept cold, from the ingredients to your pie making tools, must be. You DO NOT want to work with semi-melted butter, or warm flour as that will work against you, in getting that perfect flaky pie crust.
2. Use a Pastry Cutter
Speaking of PASTRY CUTTERS (above), I highly recommend having one on hand when trying to put together your pie crust. Some folks use their hands and others use a food processor, which is perfectly fine, but I would get familiar with using a PASTRY CUTTER. It keeps your hands away from working the dough (that ‘body heat’ can also work against you and your ‘chilled’ ingredients), and it cuts up the butter so its nice and chunky, which helps with that flaky crust. Not going to kid you, it takes a little ‘muscle’ to work, but the results are tough to argue against!
3. Use a dash of apple cider vinegar [PRO TIP]
When trying to get that perfect, flaky, pie crust, sometimes you’re willing to try anything, no matter how far-fetched or strange it sounds. For me, the notion of adding a little apple cider vinegar to my pie crust mix was a bit odd, but I ended up trying it anyways and it helped. Basically, vinegar helps prevent the formation of gluten which makes the pie crust ‘tough’.
4. Let the Dough Rest
After you finish working your ingredients together and have your dough wrapped up, let it rest. I usually wrap it up and let it sit in the refrigerator for up to an hour or more before rolling it out. By chilling the dough before rolling it out, you allow the gluten in the dough, time to settle down and relax. This actually makes your pastry dough easier to roll out and cuts down on any shrinking during the baking process
5. The Pie Dish is Important
6. prevent soggy pie crust
My favorite pies are fruit pies, but as you already know, fruit pies tend to be overly juicy, and its very easy to end up with a ‘juice-logged’ soggy pie crust which is no-good! There’s several different things you could do to prevent this, but it will take some trial and error.
- Blind Bake the pie crust first. Blind baking means you pre-bake the pie crust first (without any filling in it). You do this by covering the bottom pie crust in foil and then weighing that down with dried beans or ‘pie weights‘, to prevent the pie crust from rising up and developing air pockets.
- Brush with egg. Another way to prevent soggy pie crust is to ‘seal’ the pie crust – essentially creating a barrier between the crust and the filling by brushing the surface of the unbaked crust with a beaten egg or egg white mixed with water before adding in the filling. The proteins in the egg will form a moisture barrier over the crust and provide a layer of protection.
7. Brush with Egg
Giving your pie a nice even, brush of egg wash on top, helps create a beautiful, golden brown pie crust. What’s equally important (as mentioned above in item #6), is brushing the same egg wash on the bottom crust to help seal it and prevent a soggy pie crust. To help create the egg wash? Take my advice and pick up a decent egg white separator.
8. stop pie crust from shrinking
9. protect the edges of your pie crust
You don’t want the edges of your pie crust to toughen and burn. The edges often bake the quickest, so while they will probably look like they are MORE than baked, that doesn’t mean the pie has finished baking. So what you need to do is protect those perfect pie crust edges. The quick and easy way would be to take a couple strips of aluminum foil and warp then around the edges of the pie. The other and more professional option if you’re serious about baking pies, is to obtain a pie crust shield, and protect the edges of your pie in this manner.
Perfect Pie Crust Bonus Tip
And lastly, from the renowned KITCHN website, 4 ADDITIONAL tips to Getting the Perfect, Golden Pie Crust