Just the FAQ’s and nothing but the FAQ’s. All those questions that you should have asked your mother and didn’t are listed here. Face it, the reason that you didn’t ask your mother in the first place was because you couldn’t admit that you didn’t know everything. So now you have a choice, call your mother and look foolish, or browse the FAQ’s.

Why is my baked pie crust soggy on the bottom?

It’s been my experience that when baking pies that have a syrupy filling (example: pecan pie), it is very important to get the bottom crust set as quickly as possible. A good rule of thumb is to begin baking the pie in a 425 degree oven, even if the recipe does not call for it. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to the temperature called for in the recipe. Believe it or not, starting at 425 degrees does not necessarily shorten the overall baking time. However, always check the pie 5 to 10 minutes before the recipe time to ensure pie will not be overdone.

How do I know when my pie is done?

Depending on the pie recipe, there are several “doneness” indicators that you want to look for. Basically for fruit pies or pies where you have used flour or cornstarch as a thickener, you will want the filling to be a bubbling at least for a short period of time. Even with double crust recipes you should be able to see the filling oozing from somewhere.

In all cases the bottom of the crust should always be evenly lightly browned. Not checking the bottom crust is probably one of the biggest mistakes made by pie makers. Everyone looks at the top and starts to panic if the edge of the top crust begins to look burned or takes on a very dark appearance. If you want to more evenly match the the edge of the top crust to the rest of the pie, put a protective wrap of aluminum foil around the edge. You can also purchase fancy gizmos that will protect the crust’s edge. No matter, always check the bottom. Simple formula, not browned, not done.

How do I bake an unfilled pie shell?

The trick in baking an unfilled pie shell is keeping the crust from shrinking in the plate as it bakes. There are many different gadgets and approaches, but I think that you will find that the simplest way is the best. The only gadgets that will you need are a fork and 16 ounces of beans.

After placing the pie dough in the pie plate and you have crimped the edges, use the fork to prick the crust. I usually do it in multiple rows across the bottom. Make sure that you also prick the circumference of the plate in the curve of the plate where the bottom meets the sides of the plate. Don’t forget to prick the sides of the plate as well. Place a 12 inch square piece of parchment paper in the shell and fill with beans.  Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, remove the beans and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown. That’s all there is to it, no gadgets no tricks. Get more information here.

Can I make a pie crust ahead of time?

Many times I just want to get the pie baked and would rather not have to take the time to put together the crust. Making the crust ahead of time and chilling or freezing in the refrigerator solves this problem. Additionally, a cold crust, when popped into the oven, consistently makes for a bit flakier crust.

The first solution is to make the pie crust dough and shape into a six inch disk. Wrap the disk and place in the refrigerator until ready to roll it out. You can safely keep the dough up to a day.

The second suggestion is to mix together the ingredients, roll out the crust and place the crust in the pie plate. Wrap the plate and crust in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. When you are ready to bake the pie, remove from the freezer and allow the crust to thaw. Complete pie with filling when crust is thawed but still cool.

There you have it. Plan ahead and you will have no more excuses that you do not have time to bake that special pie.

Baking Temperatures and Times

For all baked crust pies recipes, the instructions direct you to initially bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then continue with a variable listed time at 350 degrees.  Depending on your oven the times may need to be adjusted. Use a 425 for the first baking time. If you are consistently getting bottom crusts that are not browning within several minutes of the listed bake time, extend the first bake cycle to 20 minutes.  For my oven, this helps with pies that have practically juicy fillings such as fruit pies. Get more detailed information here.