If you don't have the time (or desire) to make a from-scratch pie crust we've some great tricks for making homemade store-bought pie crusts. Translated, that means so beautiful and delicious, no one will know!
I've been playing around lately with store-bought pie crusts.
It's not that I'm lazy... I started to write that but, to be honest, it's because I really am a little lazy. I love a good pie, quiche or tart... but don't like taking the time to put together a homemade pie crust. I don't know about you, but it seems that I'm always a bit pinched for time. So I bought a load of refrigerated pie crusts and decided to experiment and see if I could come up with some ways to make them delicious as well as beautiful. The result is this post, Homemade Store-Bought Pie Crusts.
We've got a wonderful pie recipe coming up, Annie's Easy Apple Pie (pictured above), that has a fun story to go along with it. Also some easy quiche and tart recipes are on The Café docket so, I decided to put all my tips and tricks for making Homemade Store-Bought Pie Crusts into one post that I could refer back to as I create new recipes. Away we go!
A little prep
I've discovered that just a few minutes of prep makes all the difference in the world in making a store-bought crust taste deliciously homemade. Here are my tips:
- Preheat the oven with a sheet pan on the lowest rack and set the preheat temperature higher than what's needed to bake the pie. Once your pie is in the oven on the hot sheet pan, reduce the heat to the recommended temperature. (I preheat the oven to 425˚F then reduce the temp to 350˚F when I add the pie to the oven.) This accomplishes several things:
- A higher temperature at the very beginning of baking gives the pie crust an initial boost of heat to promote flakiness.
- The hottest area of any oven is around the edges, in other words, the sides, bottom, and top. Preheating a sheet pan on the lowest rack gives the bottom crust a head start in creating that desirable golden hue and crisp texture.
- Lightly oil or spray the pie pan.
- If you look at the majority of pie recipes, most recipe creators assume that there's plenty of fat in a pie crust, so there's no need to grease the pan. Hence that first inevitably messy slice that we hold back for ourselves. If you lightly spray or oil the pan, every piece comes out perfect!
- A teaspoon of butter in addition to the oil or cooking spray.
- One teaspoon of butter rubbed with a paper towel to coat the pan enhances the flavor of the crust plus helps brown the bottom. It's a tiny trick that makes a big difference! (In case you're wondering, I tried using just butter but the first piece still came out messy. A double greasing kills a few birds with one stone!)
- Once the crust has been placed in the pan, brush it with a beaten egg. This helps seal the crust so when you add the filling, it won't get soggy.
- Refrigerate (or freeze) the crust while you prep the pie filling.
- One of the golden rules of pie baking is to start with a cold crust and a hot oven. Chilling the crust for 20-30 minutes helps the crust keep its shape when you bake it. It also, according to the baking gurus at Serious Eats, gives the gluten time to unwind and the fat time to chill, so the dough is cool and relaxed when it hits the hot oven, promoting a tender, flaky crust.
- Bake the pie on the preheated sheet pan on the lower rack.
- Just leave that preheated sheet pan right where it is on the lower rack. Again, this will give you a nice golden bottom crust and the sheet pan will also catch any potential drips as the filling gets hot and bubbly.
We eat with our eyes
There's a popular saying, "we eat with our eyes" and I believe it's totally true. Eating is a multisensory experience with research revealing that sight may be as important as taste. And if it looks like someone spent a little extra time to make something already delicious look beautiful, in some mysterious way, it tastes even better!
One way to do this with pie crusts is to employ a crimping technique. Crimping can take a pie crust from plain Jane to stunning in no time flat! That's why I decided to figure out the easiest way to make a pretty and professional-looking crimped pie crust.
How to crimp a pretty pie crust
You might be in the same boat as I was... crimping was not something I'd ever been proficient at. But after making a steady stream of pies over the past few weeks, I've discovered it's super simple and takes less than two minutes to crimp a whole pie. Scott shot a few pictures of the process to make it easy for you too!
- Let refrigerated crusts stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. For a classic 9-inch pie pan, there's no rolling needed with most refrigerated pie crusts. Center the dough in a 9-inch pie pan without stretching it. Press it firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan to anchor the crust to the pan.
- There should about ½-inch extra crust that extends over the top of the pan. Starting at one area of the edge, tuck the crust under (towards the pan) about ¼-inch, working your way around the pan.
- You now will have a lip or rim that extends ¼-inch above the top of the pan. This will not only look really pretty once it's crimped, it will also keep the filling of the pie from bubbling over the edge.
- With your two index fingers, go around the pan pressing gently to even and straighten the lip (rim).
- Start anywhere on the pie rim that you created. Make a V-shape with your thumb and index finger on the outside of the rim while you push gently with the index finger of the other hand inside the crust.
- Work your way around the rim of the crust, starting each new crimp where the one before it ended.
- The wider you make the V, the larger your crimp will be. I like to make my Vs about ½-inch apart, but you can go as narrow or wide as you like. For a professional look, try to keep the Vs all the same width.
- When you've worked your way all around the rim, you will have a pretty crimped edge that will extend about ¼-inch above the pie pan. Pop the lined pie pan into the refrigerator while you prepare your filling. It should chill for 15-20 minutes. If you're in a big hurry, you can freeze the lined pan for 10 minutes.
What's the best kind of pie pan to use?
The classic recommendation for the best pie pan is to use a metal or glass pan. The reason is that metal and glass are great conductors of heat and I agree. In my pie research over the past few weeks, however, I've discovered that ceramic pans also work well if you follow the steps outlined in this post.
How to handle deep dish pie pans
Using a refrigerated pie crust with a deep-dish pie pan creates a bit of a problem as the crust is too small to fit into these pans without additional rolling. When you roll a store-bought pie crust to accommodate a deep-dish pan it can result in a really thin crust that either breaks or easily burns. I've had the best results when baking a deep-dish pie if I double the store-bought crust and then trim it to fit the pan and allow for a nice crimp. Here's a collage showing the simple process:
Flip the crust over once or twice while rolling to make sure the two rounds of dough stick together. Roll the crusts until the thickness is approximately the same as a single crust right from the package. The crust will be larger than what you need, so you'll have to trim it.
For a special treat, sprinkle the trimmings with cinnamon and sugar and bake on a sheet pan until crisp and golden - delish!
Then proceed as directed above for tucking under and crimping the crust.
So there you have it, my tricks for making, what I call, Homemade Store-Bought Pie Crusts! I've added a few tips below that I thought might also be helpful. Have fun baking pies!
Extra Cafe Tips for Homemade Store-Bought Pie Crusts
- Just to clarify, we're talking about refrigerated pie crusts, not the frozen kind that come in the aluminum pan. That being said, you can use some of these tips for frozen pie crusts, especially preheating the sheet pan and baking the pie on the sheet pan on the lower rack.
- Don't use refrigerated pie crusts right from the refrigerator. Allow them to warm a bit before lining your pan or rolling. This will keep them from cracking. But do chill your crust before adding the filling and baking.
- Refrigerated pie crusts can also be frozen. Just thaw before lining your pie pan and chill the lined pan before baking as instructed above.
- I have tried a number of different brands of refrigerated pie crusts. Pillsbury is probably the most widely available but I prefer many of the generic store brands. Trader Joe's makes a great refrigerated pie crust and I also like the Aldi brand.
- Sometimes I line my pie pan, crimp the edges and pop the whole thing in the freezer. When I want to bake pie, I simply pull it out of the freezer, add the filling and bake. Such an easy dessert! And what's better than warm pie?
- My favorite pie pan? I really like this classic metal pan but if I'm serving a larger group or I want to be a little fancy, this beautiful deep dish ceramic pie pan (pictured above with the deep dish pie crust) is my choice.
- The tips and tricks for preheating the oven with a sheet pan on the lower rack also apply to making tarts and quiches in a tart pan as pictured below. A standard refrigerated pie crust fits perfectly into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. You will have to roll the crust just a little bigger for a 10-inch tart pan. If you have an 11-inch or bigger, I would recommend rolling the double crust as explained above for deep-dish pie crusts.
Thought for the day:
I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
What we're listening to for inspiration: