9 Mistakes You’re Making When Baking Pie
From forgetting a thickener to overworking the pastry, we'll help you correct these common pie mistakes.
Not adding a thickener
If you’ve ever sliced a fruit pie only to have the filling run out, it’s likely because you forgot to add a thickener. Fruit retains water, and as your pie bakes, some of that water is released. A thickener—such as flour, tapioca, cornstarch or arrowroot—helps the filling bond together so your pie ends up flaky instead of soggy.
Overworking the dough
If you’re making a pie pastry, be careful not to overwork the dough. Kneading, rolling or otherwise working the dough too much will cause excess gluten to build. The end result is a tough, chewy crust instead of one that’s tender and flaky.
Not using enough spices
There’s nothing worse than a bland pie—except for maybe an over-spiced pie. It can be tricky to find the optimal blend of spices for your creation. We recommend tasting your pie filling before pouring it into the crust to make sure it has the desired flavor. And, when preparing the filling, keep in mind that it’s much easier to add more spice than it is to take out, so use a light hand when adding potent flavors, like cloves, nutmeg or allspice.
Not giving the pie time to cool
Remember that thickener you added? It won’t do any good if you don’t give your pie adequate time to rest after coming out of the oven. Avoid the temptation to cut your pie until it’s merely warm—not hot. Plus, you’ll save guests (and yourself!) from the risk of being burned by scalding hot filling.
Using a canned pie filling
It’s almost too easy to accidentally grab a can of pumpkin pie filling rather than a can of plain, packed pumpkin. And if you don’t notice your mistake, you’ll end up with an overly spiced pie. For fruit pies, nothing beats the consistency and flavor of the real deal. If you must use a filling, learn how to make it from scratch.
Letting the edges burn
Depending on how thick your pastry is, it’s not uncommon for the edges of your pie to brown more quickly than the top. However, there’s an easy trick to keep the edges from burning. When you notice that they’re starting to darken, cover them with a few pieces of aluminum foil or a crust shield.
Forgetting to reduce the oven temperature
Many pies start to bake in a hot oven, then after 15 or 20 minutes, the temperature is lowered. This trick helps the pie pastry bake up flaky instead of soggy. However, forgetting to lower the temperature all but guarantees a burnt pie.
Choosing the wrong fat for your crust
If you want a pie that tastes just like grandma used to make, use butter in the crust. Other fats, like lard, shortening or oil, will oftentimes taste greasy and bland. Don’t believe me? We put the three most popular fats to the test.
Overfilling your pie crust
Don’t ruin your perfect lattice with a ton of bubbled-over filling. Instead, make sure that you’re filling your pie plate properly. Aim for filling the pie pan to about ½-an-inch from the top. The filling will reduce as it cooks but shouldn’t boil over. To be safe (and to avoid a huge mess), always place your pie on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.