Back in my hustling days I used to sell food sometimes at Holidays. Three years in a row I sold homemade pies and pumpkin rolls....and I will never do it EVER again if I can help it. But in those 3 years I baked hundreds of pies and picked up a few tricks along the way that made the whole process a little easier. So as an ex pie slinger I present to you my......
Tip #1: Use shortening
I know, I know....normally I'm a big believer in "butter makes everything better" I'm sure Julia Child just rolled over in her grave as I type this but this is one case in which I have to suggest skipping the butter and using shortening. I like to use the butter flavored shortening because it gives me the best of both worlds. Shortening is just easier to work with, a little more fool proof, and honestly in my experience actually yields a more flaky crust. Not to mention it can be cheaper in the long run
Now you might be wondering....what recipe do I use? You can use your tried and true if you have one and just use shortening in place of the butter. I actually lost the recipe I had been using for years. You would think I would have it memorized but I don't. I think I'm mentally blocking out the long nights of no sleep, pies stacked in boxes as far as the eye can see, and me shaking and on the verge of puking from exhaustion. Not exactly fun so times like that will make you forget a simple recipe. So this year I decided to google Ree Drummond's (The Pioneer Woman) recipe because I love her and I assumed her recipe would be good and whaddya know.....she also insists on shortening herself. Great minds think alike!
Here is the link to her recipe....I really liked it http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/12/p-p-p-pie_crust_and_its_p-p-p-perfect/
Tip #2 Don't work with super duper cold dough
Yet another thing you've probably heard over and over when it comes to pie making is that it should be super cold. I disagree. Yes, you don't want things to start melting and cause a sticky mess but where most recipes have a standard rest time in the refrigerator or even freezer before you even think of touching it.....I prefer to start rolling right away. If you start with cold ingredients (ice water and chilled shortening) I don't think it's necessary. I will put any dough I am not currently rolling in the fridge but like I said....no rest/chill beforehand. I find super cold dough harder to work with as it is harder to roll and cracks more
Tip #3 Wax paper is your friend!!
I roll all my dough out sandwiched between 2 pieces of wax paper. I know some people use gallon storage bags...but I'm cheap and wax paper costs less and when I was making dozens upon dozens of pies a year it was just more economical
You can put a little flour down on he dough if you are afraid it will stick. As long as you don't make your dough too sticky you should be able to peel off the top piece of wax paper just fine. Then place your pie tin right on top
Flip the whole thing over and then peel off the other piece of wax paper. This is the best method I have ever found for transferring the dough to the pan. On the cooking shows you always see them roll it up on their rolling pin and unroll it back out over the pan......that has NEVER worked for me.
And this scene in Snow White is like the biggest lie of my childhood.....who just picks up pie dough like that????
Anways......it will look like this. and see that little tear? No biggie! Just patch it up with excess dough on the sides
Then do your crust however you prefer whether that be cutting off the excess dough, rolling it in, fluting, or crimping. Whatevs! I've never been a good fluter.....you would think I would be by now but that always look pretty sad. I just say they look "rustic".....that works right?
Now brings me to.....
Tip #4: Make them ahead of time and freeze
You have enough going on the day or two before Thanksgiving that you don't need to burden yourself with making your dough right then. What I do is make them and then set them in the freezer to freeze on their own first. When they are close to or completely frozen I stack them up with either wax paper, parchment, or freezer paper between them
Then you can either wrap them in plastic wrap like this
Or in the past I have even just wrapped them in a few layers of grocery bags and tied them up....worked just as well. I have made all my crusts up to 2 weeks ahead of time just like this. that way when you are ready to bake you just pull them out of the freezer, fill, and bake. All the ease of store bought frozen crusts but from scratch....you can't beat that!
That brings us to our final tip
Tip #5 Save those scraps!
Save an scrap dough and roll them out to create cute edible decorations for your pie. I have a set of fall cookie cutters I always use
Bake them separately and then place them on top of your baked pie....it really completes the look a
That completes my list of tips. I hope some of these come in handy for you. Now go forth and bake!