Friday, May 24, 2013

Tips for the Perfect Pie

They say that making pie is, well… as easy as pie.  But chances are, you’ve found that may not be the case.  So if you’ve baked a pie that didn’t quite measure up to your expectations, here are a few things to consider next time you give it a try:

Butter/flour mixture is pasty or sticky
The butter is melting.  Chill in refrigerator for a few minutes.
Dough has large lumps

Try to work in the larger pieces of fat with fingertips.
Dough is too crumbly/dry

Tear dough into small pieces.  Scatter drops of water and toss them in with a fork until the dough holds together.
Dough is too wet

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of flour at a time on the ingredients and fold the dough onto itself three or four times. Do not knead or overwork the dough.
Dough tears during rolling
The dough may be too warm. Slightly moisten the edge of the tear with water and overlap a small piece of rolled dough to patch. Carefully roll over the patch. If it keeps tearing, you may need to chill it.
Bubbles form in the crust while blind baking
Prick the bubbles during baking with a toothpick or the tip of a knife. To prevent it from happening in the future, prick the bottom before baking and/or use pie weights.
Crust loses shape
When going into the oven, the crust wasn't cold enough, and the oven wasn't hot enough.  Next time, chill the crust and make sure the oven is properly preheated.
Crust shrinks
Dough was over-mixed (producing excess gluten, which makes the dough elastic).  Shrinking also occurs when there is too little butter, too much water, or the dough ingredients are too warm.  To prevent (or minimize) shrinking, do not overwork the dough, chill before rolling out, roll out evenly, and do not stretch the crust when you transfer it to the pie pan.
Crust is tough or mealy
Dough was overworked or there isn’t enough fat in the crust.
Bottom crust is soggy
This could be caused by several things: (1) Leaking fillings - make sure you patch any holes before adding the fillings.  (2) Oven isn’t hot enough - make sure your oven temperature is accurate.  (3) Improper cooking vessel - Pyrex, ceramic, or dark metal pans retain heat and will properly brown the crust.  (4) Improper cooling - cool the pie at room temperature on a wire rack so condensation doesn’t form on the bottom
Crust burns around the edges
Cover the edges with aluminum foil while baking
Crust is too pale
This can be caused by several things: (1) Bake at a higher temperature (425-450). (2) Brush the top crust with an egg wash for a golden, glossy appearance.  (3) If your crust recipe contains vinegar or lemon juice, this could be the culprit - these ingredients are used to make the crust tender, but they can also inhibit browning. Counteract it by adding about a teaspoon of sugar to the dough.
Graham Cracker crust crumbles
If it won't hold its shape before you bake it, there may be too much moisture.  Try reducing the amount of butter.  If it doesn't crumble until after it's baked, it may be overcooked, which causes the crust to dry out.  Try reducing the cook time.  Also, make sure it's very firmly packed before baking - place a second pie pan in the crust and press it really hard.
Pie cracked in the center
This is the most common problem with custard pies such as pumpkin pie, caused by baking too hot and/or too long.  Unless the recipe specifically states otherwise, don't let the filling puff up (soufflĂ©), and don't let the center completely set.

Fruit filling is runny

An easy way to prevent this is to pre-cook your filling. Bring 1/3-1/2 of the fruit/sugar/starch mixture to a boil, and simmer for at least one minute for cornstarch or tapioca, and three minutes for flour-thickened fillings. Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining raw fruit.

Also, be sure the pie has cooled completely before you slice it to ensure the filling has time to set.
Fruit filling is mushy
Mushy fruit is typically caused by cooking the pie too long.  Cook at a higher temperature for a shorter time, or cut the fruit into bigger pieces.
There is a gap between top crust and fruit filling
Some fruits shrink in cooking, and all release steam, which can cause an air pocket if it's not allowed to escape.  When assembling your pie, form the filling into a mound.  Cut vents in the top crust or use a lattice or crumb topping.  You can also try partially cooking your filling before filling the pie (you will need to use slightly more fruit than the recipe calls for).  Simply cook the filling in a saucepan on low heat until the fruit softens, then fill the pie crust and bake.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Make Your Apple Pie Stand Out

Use these helpful tips to create a delicious apple pie!

      -When making an apple pie, it is best to use more than one variety of apple (ones that keep their shape during cooking and ones that soften, break down and help to thicken the pie.) Our suggestions for both apples that keep their shape during baking and apples that soften during baking:

      -Apples that hold their shape during cooking: Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Rome Beauty, Winesap.

-Apples that do not hold their shape and soften during cooking: Cortland, Empire, Macoun, McIntosh.

Try a pinch of Cardamom in your next apple pie.  It is a spice that not many are familiar with, but I think you’ll like it.

Visit to find out more about our delicious pies!

Monday, May 6, 2013

National Pie Championships

The National Pie Championships: Rocky Mountain serves up some delicious competition.

Pie makers from around America and Canada gathered in Orlando, Florida for the 2013 National Pie Championships.  With amateur, professional and commercial participants, the competition was sure to be delicious. 

Rocky Mountain Pies brought 16 of their heavyweight contenders including their Sea Salt Caramel French Silk, Black Cherry Crumb, their unique Red, White and Blue Lattice, and Caramel Apple Crumb; these four pies, along with two others, were blue ribbon prize winners.

The competition was packed full of sweet treats and more kinds of pie than most people could imagine.  Following the pie competition, the nearby city of Celebration, Florida hosted its annual “never-ending pie buffet” – two days of a non-stop feeding frenzy, where pie manufacturers from across the country served the hungry crowd.  People came and shared their best-tasting pies, and most weren’t shy about asking for seconds. 

See more of Rocky Mountain Pies at