A few tips to simplify baking pies for holiday season

By Megan Moser

Pie-making can seem intimidating even for seasoned bakers.

Part of the reason is that we don’t do it very often. Most people only break out their rolling pins on major holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The other part, I think, is the crust. The dough can be so finicky. It has to be cold, but not so cold that it breaks when you roll it out. It can’t be too sticky or too dry.

And while even a good crust shouldn’t upstage the filling, a bad crust — tough or flavorless — can really bring down the pie-eating experience.

But a few important rules and a good recipe can help you make a perfect crust every time.

Use cold ingredients.

That ensures that the fats won’t fully incorporate into the dough. Then, when you roll it out, the fat will form thin layers that puff when they bake, creating a flaky crust.

Let the dough rest.

After you mix it, but before you roll it out, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This lets the dough relax so the crust is tender. And, as previously mentioned, it keeps everything cold.

Use plenty of flour.

That keeps dough from sticking to the counter or the rolling pin. Sprinkle a little on the counter and rub a little on the rolling pin. Put the dough down, then sprinkle a little on it, too.

Keep it moving.

Try not to handle the dough too much, but you’ll need to lift it now and then to sprinkle more flour.

You may also want to rotate it to make sure you’re rolling it out evenly.

Roll dough over rolling pin.

When you’re ready to transfer the dough to the pan, just wrap it around the rolling pin, then unroll it across the pan. Lift the edges to ease it down into the corners of the pan.

Leave a little excess.

Trim the dough about a half inch below the edge of the pan. Fold the extra under to make a lip, then crimp it using your thumb and forefinger for a decorative edge.

Don’t let it get too brown.

If the crust is brown before the pie is done, cover the edges with aluminum foil (or a crust shield made especially for the job).

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