Recipes and Tips for making Pie.
Helpful Tools For Baking Pies
Many people who bake pies are frustrated when the edges of the crust begin to brown faster than the center of the crust. Some crusts will burn while the interior is still not cooked thoroughly, or the top crust center is still pale and unattractive. Burning edges of a crust doesn’t add to the attractiveness of a pie, and this problem can be particularly pronounced when you’re baking custard pies with no top crust, or pies with relatively hard fruit like apples that need a longer cooking time. Alternately, if you like to crimp the crust close to the edge of the pie tin, as with a fork, the thinner crust at the edges cooks faster. For this reason, many pie bakers celebrate the pie crust shield.
A pie crust shield is a useful utensil in the kitchen and comes in several forms. The most common are rings made of aluminum, which are gently placed over the pie, sometimes halfway through the baking process, to prevent the edges of the crust from burning. You can also buy pie crust shield types that come in several rounded pieces, which can be placed around the exterior crust, and can compensate for larger or smaller pies. Size can vary, and you may need a couple, or multiple piece pie crust shields if you use several different sized pie pans.
One recent addition to pie crust shield materials are those made from silicone instead of aluminum. Some people favor these, as they tend not to stick. Either material will protect the pies edges from getting over-crisped or even burnt, but people do complain that aluminum shields may stick to a certain degree. One way to avoid this is to wait until the edges of the crust are cooked perfectly. They will be hard at this point so there’s little danger of the shield actually sticking to the crust. With any type of shield, you will need to cook the pie for part of the time unshielded so that the edges of the crust are thoroughly cooked.
Pie crust shields are inexpensive, costing between $5-10 US Dollars (USD); the silicone ones tends to be more expensive than aluminum types. Some cooks claim though, that you can have a perfectly prepared pie without ever using one. Instead of purchasing a pie crust shield, simply use some folded over foil around the edges of the pie if it appears to be overcooking. This will keep crust edges from burning, generally won’t stick if you place it on the pie when the crust is already hard, and moreover, can be adapted for any size or shape of pie. You can also recycle aluminum foil providing you rinse it after use.
There are as many fans of the aluminum foil method as of the pie crust shield method for avoiding burned pie edges. Those who favor aluminum foil like the adaptable size of the foil, and some also argue that unless you store a pie crust shield carefully, light aluminum will easily bend out of shape, rendering the shield less useful. Silicone shields tend to fare better, and won’t bend permanently if you store something on top of them.
A lattice cutter is a kitchen tool which is designed to help cooks create neat, even lattices for lattice-topped pastry such as pies. There are two different types of lattice cutters. One is a cutting stamp, which punches a lattice design into a single sheet of pie dough. The other is a rolling cutter which creates uniform strips of dough which can be woven into a lattice topper. Many kitchen supply stores sell lattice cutters, and they can also be ordered from companies which specialize in pastry supplies.
A lattice topping is a lacy woven topping which allows consumers to peep at the ingredients inside a pastry. Lattice topping is more commonly used on pies and tarts, although it can be used on other pastries as well. Strips of lattice can also be utilized to create shape and texture on pastries like Danishes. The topping looks stylish, and it is is relatively easy to make; many cooks like to use it to dress up their pastry with an old fashioned look.
A cutting stamp is much quicker and easier to use, although the end result is not quite as charming as a woven lattice. The stamp is punched into a sheet of rolled out dough, which can be lifted as a single unit to top a pie. The edges of the sheet of dough must also be crimped to the bottom crust to prevent separation. Some cutting stamps also come with fanciful designs like hearts which make the resulting lattice more fun.
A good lattice cutter will be made from a sturdy metal which will stand up to repeated use. As with other sharp tools, you should avoid running a lattice cutter through a dishwasher, since the edges can be dulled. When you are shopping for a lattice cutter, look for one without nooks and crannies for dough and fat to accumulate in, and try to find a lattice cutter with a sheath or shield to keep the cutting edge sharp. A sharp cutting edge will yield crisply cut lattice without ragged edges or tears.
A pastry cutter, which is also occasionally referred to as a pastry blender, is typically used for making pie crusts and various types of breads. Pastry cutters are typically made with a handle on one end attached to small steel blades or wires that are fairly close together. The ends may make it easier to get shortening or butter thoroughly mixed into flour, which is usually important for making good pie crusts and some breads. Bladed pastry cutters are often thought to be more effective for blending pastry, but the wire variety is generally easier to clean and may be less expensive to purchase. Both types are usually inexpensive and may be purchased at most retail stores that sell kitchen utensils as well as online.
Using a pastry cutter to blend shortening or butter in with flour typically involves rocking it back and forth inside the mixing bowl until the mixture looks like pea-sized crumbs. Some people also add water to the mixture as they blend, but this is usually most effective for pie crusts because it may make it easier to get the perfect consistency. When making bread, the liquid can normally be added after the other ingredients are blended. It might also be a good idea for a person to chill the pastry cutter before use, especially if she will be working with ingredients that are supposed to be cold. This could keep the room temperature pastry cutter from increasing the temperature of the ingredients.
Many people do not own pastry cutters and might avoid recipes that call for their use as a result. There are some items that almost anyone is likely to have in the kitchen that could work as a substitute for a pastry cutter. Some people blend shortening in with flour using just a fork and rotate the bowl around with their fingers as they work the ingredients in. Two knives may also work well to blend pastry ingredients together. Most people use knives to cut pastry by crossing them and repeatedly sliding them to opposite ends of the bowl from each other.
Pastry blending isn't the only thing a person can use a pastry cutter for. The unique shape and design of these kitchen tools make them useful for a few other kitchen projects. The sharp edges of a pastry cutter might make it very easy to score the tops of breads or pies.
A pastry blender, is a useful tool in the kitchen. Many recipes for pastry crust and for butter or shortening rich biscuits or scones require you to add cold butter or shortening to flour. While you can accomplish this process with two knives or a fork, using the pastry blender makes it easier to adequately cut the butter into the flour.
This helpful kitchen tool is undoubtedly inexpensive, usually about $5-10 US Dollars (USD) or slightly more if you want a very fancy one. It has several u-shaped wires that connect to a straight handle. A few types of the pastry blender have a slight protrusion from one side of the handle that gives you a place to rest your thumb. It’s well worth looking for a type with this extra thumb rest, since you can better control the pastry blender if you can use your thumb to exert pressure on the flour/shortening mix.
The u-shaped wires of the pastry blender do a nice job cutting the ingredients together, and unlike working with your hands to combine the two, the pastry cutter stays cool so you’ll keep the shortening at optimum temperature. Bakers develop various techniques for using them; perhaps at first cutting the butter into smaller amounts between the wires, then rocking the blender back and forth to create an incorporated mix. For standard piecrust, your work is finished with the pastry blender when the butter/flour mix resembles coarse cornmeal. If you’re adding liquid to the pastry, some people continue to use the pastry blender, or they switch to hand combining at this point so just enough liquid is added to make the pastry adhere but not be too sticky.
A pastry crimper is a useful kitchen utensil, particularly if you enjoy making double crust pies. The crimper looks like a small pizza cutter, usually featuring a handle of wood or plastic, and a metal wheel with flutes or insets that pushes the crusts together, and provides that professional crimped look on the outer crust. Occasionally you’ll find two-headed varieties of the pastry crimper, one with a straight round blade and one with a fluted round blade so you can either cut crust or crimp it.
Of course, it isn’t always necessary to use a pastry crimper, and you can instead use your forefinger and thumb to pinch crust together in a pretty shape. You really do need to make sure a two crust pie is sealed well because a good pie can be ruined if the pie filling leaks out between the crusts. Some like to use a crimper on single crust pies also, so they can get that pretty fluted edge that looks so professional.
Yet the pastry crimper is not just for piecrusts. You may also see these utensils advertised as pasta cutters. They are just the right shape for creating individual raviolis, providing the raviolis with the lovely crimped and fluted edge. Crimpers can be used to cut sheets of pasta into lasagna noodles, or in a variety of other shapes.
If you enjoy sugar cookies, you may also make use of a pasty crimper to separate rolled out cookie dough into any shapes you like. Crimpers and pasta cutters are exceptional for this purpose, especially if you have trouble making cut out cookies from molds. Simple triangles, diamonds or even circles are easy to make with this tool, and add a pretty touch to the end of each cookie.
It’s fairly easy to find a pastry crimper, and they are inexpensive. You may want to look for one with a plastic handle that can go in the dishwasher. Those with wooden handles will degrade over time and may not be dishwasher safe. Cost for a simple crimper averages about $5-10 US Dollars (USD), and they’re readily available in kitchen supply stores, department stores, and on a host of Internet sites. You may pay a little more for double headed types, and these may be a little more difficult to find.
Some people feel the double-headed types, especially since the flat blade is somewhat sharp, are a bit difficult to manipulate. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a pastry crimper and a flat blade cutter. Since both are reasonably priced, they fit into most people’s budgets easily, and are a significant help for a variety of cooking applications.
For folks with children, any child who enjoys playing with clay may really enjoy playing with a pastry crimper. You can find some with plastic heads that aren’t sharp at all, allowing kids to practice the art of pastry safely, or just draw pretty designs on their clay.
A pastry brush is a kitchen tool which is intended for use with pastry. Many pastries need to be glazed or brushed with things like egg whites, melted butter, or milk. A pastry brush controls the amount of glaze which is applied, and ensures that it is spread evenly and efficiently. Keeping a pastry brush or two around is very useful, even if you do not do that much baking, because there are a number of potential uses for a good pastry brush.
A typical pastry brush has a wooden or plastic handle with natural or synthetic bristles. Unfortunately, this design can promote the growth of bacteria, especially when a baker works with fat-rich glazes like butter. As a result, the pastry brush should be carefully hand washed after each use, and it should be periodically dipped in a bleach solution to keep it sanitary. To hand wash a pastry brush, massage detergent gently into the bristles and then rinse them thoroughly before shaking out the brush and hanging it to dry so that the bristles do not deform.
If you can find one, a better choice of basting brush is an entirely synthetic brush made from a material like silicone. Pure synthetics can be washed in the dishwasher, which makes them much more sanitary. Many of them are also molded in solid units, which make them easier to clean and prevent the loss of bristles. Silicone is one of the best materials, since it is highly heat resistant.
Many baked goods are finished with a glaze which creates a distinctive crust. Pies, for example, can be brushed with egg whites or milk for a glossy finish. A pastry brush is also used in the assembly of dishes which require phyllo dough, and it can be used to add delicate glazes to things like cakes. As a general rule, it is a good idea to keep multiple sizes around, ranging from a small, thin brush to a wide brush with a large area of coverage.
This kitchen tool is essentially the same thing as a basting brush, a brush designed for applying bastes, marinades, and glazes to meats and savory foods. Cooks often keep separate sets of pastry and basting brushes to minimize the potential for flavor contamination. However, if you have a set of brushes made from silicone, you will not need to keep them separate, since silicone does not hold flavors or odors. Otherwise, you may want to consider color coding your basting and pastry brushes, to ensure that you do not introduce barbecue sauce to your scones.
A spatula is one of the most common cooking tools. It's a simple tool that is basically a flat, usually squarish piece of plastic or metal, on the end of a straight handle. It also goes by the names of tosser, turner and flipper and even fish slice. As these names suggest, the tool is basically used for flipping food, usually in a frying pan. For example, you might use a spatula to flip a burger patty. Some blades have slots or holes in them to facilitate draining food, and others are solid. Another variation of spatulas do not have such pronounced ends, and are made of a more pliable material, useful for mixing and scraping bowls of cake batter.
Other culinary uses for spatulas include scraping and mixing. Cooks frequently turn the spatula blade upside down and, through applying pressure, use the tool to scrape food from pan bottoms that has adhered to them during cooking or baking. More pliable spatulas with more narrow blades, such as rubber spatulas, are also regularly used to roughly mix dry ingredients for recipes. A special tool called a frosting spatula which is quite narrow, is frequently used to apply frosting and icing to the surfaces of cakes and cupcakes. Spatulas can also refer to a tool used in construction.
Rolling pins are associated with pie making. Crust is rolled to a perfect thickness and consistency using this tool. Pins can come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Wood is the most common, but there are some that can be placed in the freezer so as to facilitate the chilling of the dough while it is being rolled.
Precise measurements are the key to good pies. Measuring spoons and cups are of the utmost import in a baker's kitchen. Non-reactive cups are the best for measuring out liquids and oils.
A variety of bowls are needed to create pies, for both the crust and the fillings. Non-reactive kinds, such as glass and ceramic, are the best to use, especially since the dough will be chilled and other bowls, such as plastic, can contain remnants of the past item's taste.
Different types of pie pans include clear glass, ceramic, and metal. The metal varieties are usually either aluminum or stainless steel. Disposable pie pans, typically made of very thin aluminum, are also commonly used. Almost all pie pans, regardless of material, have the same overall design: round in shape with low, slightly slanted edges. There is also typically a flat, thin lip along the top of the edge.
There are a few different types of glass pie pans. They may be made of everyday, run-of-the-mill glass, or thicker glass that is oven-proof and durable. One possible advantage to using any type of glass pan for baking pies is that it's very easy to see if the bottom of the crust is adequately browned. Glass pie pans also hold up well to knives and other utensils used for slicing pies. A possible disadvantage to using glass pans is that they are normally heavy, which increases the likelihood that they may be dropped and broken.
Ceramic pans for pie-baking are often decorative, and may be painted a variety of colors. Ceramic pie pans come in a variety of designs and might have fluted or perforated edges. These little additions can result in a pie with a showier appearance. Ceramic is also considered a good choice for its superior heat retention. Ceramic is not a see-through material, so it may not be a good choice for a beginning baker who has trouble determining if something is cooked through.
Metal pie pans are a popular choice for many bakers. Non-stick aluminum and stainless steel are two of the most popular types used. One advantage metal has over glass is that it will not break, although it can bend and dent. People who bake on a daily basis may benefit from having metal pans because it's often easier to store them. They generally produce satisfactory pie-baking results, with most types having good heat retention.
People who do not bake often and don't feel the need to keep baking supplies on hand might prefer using disposable pie pans. These pans are normally inexpensive and widely available. They are made of very flexible, thin aluminum that can be either recycled or disposed of once the pie is gone. Some of these pans may also come with a ready-made crust, which could make the process of baking that much easier for the person who considers it a chore.
Pie weights are sets of small weights which are designed to be placed into a pie crust for blind baking. Blind baking is a commonly used baking technique in which the bottom crust of a pie is partially baked before the filling is added, ensuring that the crust bakes all the way through and stays crisp. In addition to pie weights, which are available at many kitchen supply stores, cooks can also use things like beans or rice to weight their pie crusts during blind baking.
If a pie crust is not weighted for blind baking, it can bubble up and develop air pockets. The use of pie weights ensures that the crust stays smooth and even during the prebaking process, although some cooks choose not to weight their pie crusts, for various reasons. Typically the crust is removed from the oven when it just starts to turn golden, although for an already cooked filling like custard, the crust would of course be cooked all the way during the blind baking step.
A number of different designs can be used for pie weights. One of the simplest is just a chain or set of beads strung together. The advantage of strung pie weights is that they are easy to handle and wash, and they will not be lost in a kitchen drawer somewhere. Pie weights can also take the form of ceramic balls, polished river stones, or metal balls, in which case they typically come with a container for storage so that they will not be lost.
To use pie weights, cooks prepare the crust as directed, press it into the pie pan, pierce it several times for ventilation, and then arrange the pie weights inside, being careful to distribute the weight evenly. Some cooks like to lay the pie weights on a coffee filter or piece of parchment paper so that they do not make impressions in the crust. Then, the pie is prebaked, the pie weights are removed, and the filling is poured or spooned in.
Pie weights are most easily cleaned by dropping them into a dish of hot soapy water, allowing them to soak briefly, and then rinsing them. Some pie weights can be run through the dishwasher, in which case they should be washed in a silverware cage to ensure that they do not come loose and damage the dishwasher or other objects being washed. After being rinsed, pie weights can be laid out on a towel to dry before being put away.
Pie servers are utensils that are constructed for use in the cutting and serving of different types of pies. Sometimes known as a pie spatula or serving spatula, the pie server is shaped in a manner similar to a wedge of pie. The device is used to cut a slice or section from the main body of the pie, and then transport the slice from the pie tin to the serving plate.
A pie server is characterized by a blade that is triangular in shape, generally with two longer sides and a narrower bottom. Attached to the blade is a handle, which makes it possible to grip and move the blade into position for cutting or sliding under the wedge of pie. The blade may feature smooth edges, or be slightly serrated to allow for a cleaner cut.
Pie spatulas or servers were once made exclusively of metal. Today, the pie server and other serving spatulas may be created with the use of stainless steel, plastic or even some types of wood. The blade and the handle may be composed of the same material, or feature a combination, such as a stainless steel blade paired with a wooden handle. The design for a pie server can be very simple, with the handle and blade molded as one piece. At the same time, elaborate designs for the pie server may include etching into the surface of the handle and blade, and the metal may be coated with some type of plating, such as silver or gold.
Caring for a pie server is not difficult. Just about all models can be placed in an automatic dishwasher. However, servers that feature some sort of decorative plating are normally washed and dried by hand.
Purchasing a pie server is very easy. Along with any kitchen shop, most discount retail outlets that carry common kitchen utensils will have at least two different types of pie servers on hand. The simply designed versions are normally very inexpensive, while the more decorative types will cost more, but often are still affordable.
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