Thanksgiving Tips: Pie Problems

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In this image taken on Oct. 8, 2012, a maple pumpkin pie with cinnamon-maple whipped cream is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- While turkey may be the most important part of the meal, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie. But regardless of whether you prefer pumpkin, apple, pecan (or something else), making the perfect pie can be a challenge for even the most experienced baker.

Here are 5 common pie problems and how to fix/avoid them:

  1. PROBLEM: The pie crust dough is too crumbly.

The key to a perfect pie is a perfect crust. But what do you if your dough crumbles and cracks as you try to roll it out? Luckily, there’s a pretty easy fix.

TIP: Most likely, your dough is too dry. To moisten it, sprinkle a little bit of cold water on the dough and work it in with your fingers until the dough starts to come together.

2. PROBLEM: The bottom of the pie is soggy.

Fans of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ know that nobody likes a soggy bottom. A soggy bottom refers to when the bottom of your pie is undercooked or soggy due to a juicy filling that soaked into the crust. There are many ways to avoid this before it happens (blind bake the crust, use a glass-bottom dish, and drain off excess liquid from fruit), but what do you do if it’s already too late?

TIP: For a fruit pie, try putting it back in the oven on the bottom rack for a few minutes. This will put the undercooked bottom closer to the heat source. If it’s a custard or pumpkin filling, don’t try to rebake it or else risk compromising the delicious filling.

3. PROBLEM: The crust is dry and hard.

You bring out your freshly baked pie and just as you go to cut a slice, you find the crust is so dry and hard that you can barely get the knife through. Don’t let all your hard work be ruined by an inedible pie at the end of dinner.

TIP: A dry, hard pie crust is usually the result of an overworked dough, which causes the gluten to toughen. To avoid this, work pie dough as little as possible and keep all the ingredients as cold as you can. Using cold butter and ice-cold water will give you the flaky, buttery crust of your dreams.

4. PROBLEM: You don’t have pie weights.

Blind baking a pie crust, which is just baking it first without any filling, is a crucial step in creating the perfect homemade pie. To avoid having a shrunken crust after blind baking, most recipes call for the use of pie weights. But let’s be honest, what non-professional baker has real pie weights laying around the house?

TIP: Don’t fear! There are a number of easy alternatives for pie weights including dried rice, dried beans, popcorn kernels, pennies, sugar, and more.

5. PROBLEM: Your pecan pie has gone soft.

Like pumpkin, pecan pie is a Thanksgiving favorite, especially among Southern families, so it can be a real bummer to learn the pecans have gone soft and mushy when it comes out of the oven. Unfortunately, there’s not much to do once the pie is finished, but there is something you can do to stop the problem before it happens.

TIP: Toast your pecans before adding them to the syrupy filling. Not only will this help keep the pecans crunchy, but it will also help draw out the natural, nutty flavor creating both the perfect flavor and texture.

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