Pie Crust Basics
A great pie starts with a great crust. Learn how to make flaky, buttery pie pastry.
Many traditional holiday favorites--pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan pies--are custard-based pies. Pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie are dairy-based custards, while pecan pie is an egg and sugar-syrup custard. Custard pies require delicate handling: if you over-bake them, they can crack, pull away from the crust, and "weep," or lose moisture.
There's a perfect fruit pie for every season! Strawberry-rhubarb in spring, cherry in summer, pear in the fall, and apple in winter.
Adorn Your Pie
Add a festive touch to your pies? Use extra dough to cut out leaf shapes; mini leaf cutters are available at many kitchen stores. This is also a great way to hide cracks in pumpkin pie.
Use the back of a paring knife or a dull butter knife to press veins in the leaves. Brush the dough shapes with egg wash and bake in a 375 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown (small leaves will require less baking time).
Arrange a trio of leaves in the center of the pie (or artfully covering any flaws) and garnish with a few cranberries frosted with superfine sugar.
Bake your pies well in advance of your holiday meal so that the filling has time to set--a warm pie does not make for easy slicing. If your family prefers warm pie, cover the pie loosely with foil and warm in a preheated 300 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes before serving.
If you like, bedazzle it with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream. Add two tablespoons of sugar (or more to taste) and teaspoon of vanilla extract to every two cups of heavy whipping cream--or make it even merrier with a splash of liqueur. For a delicious sweet-tart topping, use half sour cream (not low-fat) and heavy cream, as in the Easy Whipped Cream recipe.
Troubleshooting Pie Problems
Cracked or sticky dough? Soggy or pale crust? A pie that's a bit runny or misshapen? If you've got problems, we've got solutions!