Favorite Pie Tips and Tricks

A Thanksgiving dinner is not complete unless you finish it off with homemade pies. I recently took a pie baking class from my neighbor, Jenny J. She had some wonderful tips and tricks that I thought I would share. Some you may already know, and some will be new to you:
  • For a less soggy bottom crust, when preheating your oven, put a rimmed baking dish in the oven at the same time and bake your pie on it. It will help heat the pie more evenly. Also, brush your uncooked, bottom pie shell with a beaten egg (or egg white) to moisture proof it before putting in your wet filling.
  • For a golden, crisp top crust, brush crust with a beaten egg white and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  • For a well cooked crust in fruit pies, cook pie at a high temperature (425 degrees) for the first 20 minutes, then lower to 350-375 for the remainder of the cooking time to finish cooking the filling.
  • To make transferring pie crust easier, roll out pie crust on lightly floured parchment paper.
  • The best rolling pin for pie crust is a French rolling pin. It allows you to better control the pressure you put on the crust to roll it out more evenly.

Photo by Jenny J. 
  • Glass pie plates (like Pyrex) are fabulous to use because they take longer to heat, cooking the crust more evenly. Also, you can pick up your pie and check to see if the crust is golden brown. 
  • For a flaky crust, use lard as your fat (leaf lard, if you can find it), because it has a lower melting temperature and it melts immediately when it enters your mouth. Also, make sure there are streaks of fat visible in your pie crust when rolled out. Those streaks will melt and create layers between the flour, creating flaky crust.
  • For a tender crust, add a teaspoon of white or apple cider vinegar.
  • Always keep your fat cold and your dough chilled. 
  • Once your pie crust is assembled in the pie plate, chill in fridge or freezer to let the dough firm up again. This will help your pie keep its pretty shape.
  • If blind baking (precooking) a pie shell, be sure to line it with parchment or foil and fill with pie weights, pennies, rice, or dried beans, to keep your shell from puffing up too much or sliding down the sides and sinking to the bottom.
Emily's Notes:
The top photo I took at the last Wessman Family Thanksgiving in 2012. We had 16 delicious homemade pies, all made by 2 amazing cousins.
Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard. It also lacks any real pork or meaty flavor, making it an excellent neutral-flavored cooking fat and produces moist, flaky pie crusts.
I use an organic all vegetable shortening that is non-hydrogenated, and I have been pleased with my crusts. It really is your preference on the kind of fat you use in your crust.


  1. I can't get shortening in Australia (though copha comes close, albeit rather expensive) so I've been using butter. I should be able to find lard, though I don't know what quality grade is available.

    You know I'm gonna have pumpkin pies next week!

  2. That is a cool picture! Thanks Emily.


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