5 Tips For Baking Perfect Pies

For many people, including chefs of all skill levels, February is centered around Valentine’s Day. The right ambiance, not to mention a few tantalizing appetizers, can result in a truly romantic meal. However, there are other, equally joyful ways to celebrate food in February.

“February is officially Great American Pies Month.”

Case in point: Great American Pies Month, when people commemorate everything from hearty apple to a decadent chocolate mousse. So, why not mark this occasion by stepping up your pie-making game with a few helpful tips. The end results are delectable pies that you can enjoy all year round:

1. Try out the vinegar
In many ways, the perfect pie begins with the crust. Now, every chef has his or her own recipe, but The Kitchn suggested one very important addition: apple cider vinegar. Just one teaspoon and a little ice water will stop the gluten from forming, thus making for tender, more malleable crust. And the temperature of the water isn’t the only thing that matters: Between your flour, water and butter, cold ingredients will ensure extra flaky crust every time.

2.  Try the right techniques 
For plenty of chefs, transferring the dough into the pie dish is a tricky process, and that’s where so many pies simply fall apart. Luckily, the American Pie Council suggested a helpful technique. It requires use of your thumb and forefinger on one hand, and the index finger of your other. The index should help guide the crust as you press down with the forefinger and thumb. If done right, you should have a nice, even spread without any nasty wrinkles or air bubbles.

3. Experiment with blind baking
Another challenge for many chefs, especially those without a lot of baking experience, is the art of blink baking. This means you have to cook the pie shell before placing the apples, blueberries or other fillings. Many chefs prefer this approach because it makes for heartier and more stable crust. To help, just put some parchment paper and dried beans in the crust as you bake. Once the shell is all done, you can just lift the shell and start filing the pie.

4. Rely on sauces and syrups 
Though not always seen as a normal part of pie-making, Bon Appetit explained that sauces are an especially delicious part of a tasty end product. If you’re tackling a classic apple pie, for instance, it’s a good idea to toss the apples with the sugar, butter, flour and other ingredients. The result is not only moist fillings, but some excess juice left over. This can be reduced into a thick syrup and re-applied to the apples for extra flavoring.

5. Get your dough in order 
How you create and treat the dough for your crust can make a huge difference. It’s a good idea to use high fat butter, anything over 83 percent, as this will ensure crust that’s extra flaky. But you also have to remember to beat your dough thoroughly, and allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes after prep; this is necessary to help break down the gluten. You should also let the pie rest for at least 30 minutes before it goes into the oven.

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