An easy way to make a decorative pie crust

I’ve always liked to bake. When we lived in Minnesota, I remember baking breads and pies mostly. Fresh baked breads in the winter are cozy.  Pies got us dinner appointments. 

“Can you bring a couple of those pies that you bake?”

I had a cookbook, nothing but fancy pie recipes. I’d get a little creative, like adding cranberries or walnuts to an apple pie recipe. (But I never reduced the sugar. That’s what allows a pie to be left out at room temperature without spoiling.)

I love to bake pies. But there three problems you might encounter.  

Problem 1:

Instead of a pie crust that is tender and flakey, it’s hard or tough.

Problem 2:

Instead of your bottom crust being flaky and crisp, it’s soggy.

Problem 3:

By the time your filling is set or your fruit tender, the exposed crust at the edge is burnt and dry. 

Now it’s easy to avoid all three  of these problems.

  1. Use a professional pie crust mix. That’s what the bakeshops do.  Unless you’re super human, you’ll make a better crust with a mix.
  1. Use a dark nonstick pie pan. The dark surface absorbs heat to bake the bottom of the crust right through the pan. A light surface reflects heat. 
  1. Use a pie crust shield. They reflect the heat and keep the tender exposed edges from overbaking.  (Remember how your grandmother carefully folded aluminum foil over the edges of her pumpkin pies—same principle.)

Fruit pies and pies with eggs in the filling (like pumpkin) take a long time and are particularly hard to bake.  A dark pan and a shield will solve that. 

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