Everyone loves pie; but no one likes a gummy, undercooked crust underneath the yummy filling. We asked a pastry chef for her tips for achieving flaky pie-crust goodness from top to bottom.
At last month's pie contest at Alfalfa's Market in Boulder, I was lucky to be sitting next to judge Ashlea Tobeck, who, as a bona fide pastry chef, knows her way around a pie crust. Unfortunately, many entries had partially raw crusts, especially on the bottom—a major demerit in the judging. But I’ve had this problem when baking pies myself, so I asked her: How do you get a bottom pie crust to cook all the way through without burning the top?
She gave me three expert ideas.
1) "For a single crust pie (such as pumpkin pie), gently par-bake the crust before adding the filling. To par-bake, prick the bottom crust gently with a fork and then line with aluminum foil. Fill with uncooked beans (the best pie weights in the world) and bake at 425 degrees until pale, golden blond. If you will finish baking the pie with the filling, allow crust to cool slightly and then add the filling and return to the oven. If you’re going to fill the crust with an already cooked filling, simply remove the beans and foil and finish baking the crust.
2) "For a double-crust pie (such as apple pie), start the baking process at the temperature recommended in the recipe. Bake until your crust has risen and is a light golden brown. Then lower the temperature of your oven to 250-300 degrees and finish baking. This will allow the bottom crust time to finish baking before the top crust is overdone. [That is a GREAT tip.]
3) "You can also sprinkle ground toasted nuts, cookie crumbs, or cake crumbs over the bottom crust to help keep the slurry [the liquid part of a pie filling, like the juice from cooked apples] from soaking into the crust."
Do you have a favorite pie recipe and tips for success? Tell us about it here or on our Facebook page—and post a picture!