Some quick tips and tricks for working with pie dough:
Keep it cold! This is the most important rule. When a recipe calls for water, ensure it is iced and keep your pie dough in the freezer between steps. The point of this is to ensure the flour and water remain separate and your pie crust remains flaky. This is true for store-bought and homemade pie dough. One very important step most people skip is freezing the pie dough in the pan before par-baking or filling it.
Butter is best! Although you can use shortening, oil, or lard, unsalted butter is easiest to work with because it stays cold the longest giving you more time to find the texture you’re looking for in forming your dough. Best thing to do is at the start of making any pie dough from scratch, cut your butter into small pea-size pieces and immediately put it into the freezer.
Par-bake your crust. Depending on the filling, you may want to par-bake your crust for about 15 minutes to ensure the bottom is cooked all the way through. If your recipe calls for baking powder, place a foil packet filled with rice or uncooked beans in the center of the pie to weigh it down and keep it from rising. Allow it to cool at least to room temperature before adding any filling.
Egg-wash is your friend! It can be used not only to add a beautiful golden brown color to your crust, but also to help seal any edges of your lattice (a lattice is the technical term used for the interlaced crossover pattern found in this video).
Treat your pairing knife like a pencil. These small and lightweight knives go a long way with attention to detail which can really elevate the look of your decorative elements. Don’t be afraid to practice. You can always roll the dough back into a ball and back out to start over with.
Finish covered. Sometimes your pie dough will be browning before your filling is done. This happens most often with pumpkin and pecan pies. In this case, it is good to cover the top of the pie while it finishes baking. Nowadays there are special rings you can buy that are made to fit the 2” lining of a 9” pie pan. However, a piece of foil made into an O-shape is just as good.
Try these tips on our Alfajor Crust Pumpkin Pie recipe!