Every great pie starts with a carefully constructed crust. But, tragically, that's also the most intimidating part. To set you up for pie success, we're sharing a few of baker extraordinaire Gesine Bullock-Prado's top tips. These little nuggets of expert advice come from Gesine's class, Pies & Tarts for Every Season — consider this an exclusive sneak peek.
Tip #1: A secret ingredient
As you're making pie dough, add a little squirt of a weak acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Why? "It adds extensibility to a dough like this, and that just means that it makes it easier and more pliable to roll out," Gesine says.
Tip #2: Big & small
Lots of recipes tell you to divide your dough in half — one half for the bottom crust, one half for the top. But Gesine recommends making one "half" a bit bigger than the other. That way you have extra dough to play around with for a decorative top (like a lattice crust ).
Tip #3: Don't roll over
This rule goes for any dough, from pie to tart to cookie to pizza. To keep your dough an even thickness, never let your rolling pin roll over the edges of the dough. If you do, you'll squash the edges and they'll be harder to work with later.
Tip #4: Ready for lift off
Moving the crust from your work station to the pie tin shouldn't be a struggle! Here's how you can do it easily:
- Try folding the rolled-out crust into quarters, then move it to the pan. (Just be sure you don't crease the folds!)
- Roll the dough onto your rolling pin to quickly transfer it to the pan.
Tip #5: Perfect pricks
Docking — that just means poking holes in your crust with a fork — can make all the difference in blind baking. Gesine says that the holes help the heat in your oven rise up and through the crust, which keeps it from getting too flaky (yes, that's a thing!) before it's been filled. By the way, make sure your fork hits the bottom of the pan — that's how you know the holes went all the way through.
Tip #6: Bake it upside down
This is not a drill! Before blind baking, top your bottom crust with a second pie plate. Flip the whole thing upside down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Gravity makes sure the crust doesn't slump at all.