No one does pies like Executive Pastry Chef Lance Whipple of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. As we gear up for the biggest pie day of the year, Chef Whipple provides his top five tips for crafting award-worthy pie at home.
20/20 Rule When ready to roll, the temperature of your dough is crucial. If it’s too cold, the dough will be hard to roll and will break apart. If it is too warm, it will be fragile and frustrating. Aim for dough that is cold enough that when you push into it with your finger it feels like a ripe avocado. The best ways to achieve this perfect rolling temp is ether chill your freshly made dough for 20 minutes before you start to roll it or chill the dough overnight and pull it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you need it.
Ditch the Gadgets It’s called easy as pie for a reason, so skip the endless pie gadgets. If you need a pie collar to protect the edges of your crust, chances are you are baking it too hot, and you can also lower the oven rack one spot. Raw beans and parchment are all you need instead of pie weights. Save the money and your kitchen storage.
Avoid Soupy Slices Pie is a balancing act of juices and thickener. All fruits release its juice when heated. Excess juice in the bottom of the pie will prevent a good bake on your bottom crust. Consider cooking pie fillings on the stove top with the thickener before adding them to the crust. This will help you get the perfect slice every time.
Pans Matter Aluminum, ceramic, tin and glass all have advantages and disadvantages. Thicker pans like glass and ceramic take longer to cook but give the advantage of non-sticking. Aluminum and other metals cook about 20 minutes faster and can give a nice brown bottom crust, but they tend to scratch. Those scratches will make the crust stick to the pan. What you use does not matter as long as you know what to expect from your pan and how to adjust.
Take Note Pies don’t typically come out picture-perfect on the first shot. Keep your notes, track size and type of fruit, type of pan used, rack position, cooking temperature and cooking times. Make simple adjustment each time you re-make the recipe and you will be well on your way to making pie perfection.
And Chef’s favorite pie dough recipe:
Perfect Pie Dough
1 ½ C Flour
½ tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Sugar
4 oz. Butter
2 oz. Cold water
Mix dry ingredients together with a paddle in mixer. Cut in butter until it forms a coarse meal. Add water all at once and mix until just combined. Portion dough into a round manageable piece and flatten into a form that is ready to roll. Chill dough for 20 minutes. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and line one 9-inch pie pan. Recipe is for one crust.