Similar to cooking a whole turkey, baking a pie for the holidays can be a once-a-year kind of event. If you're feeling a bit intimidated by the pumpkin pie recipe you're about to attempt, worry not. Below, we've picked out the most common pie-tastrophes and offered easy ways to fix them. Whether it's how to avoid crumbly dough or a wobbly filling, you'll be a pie-baking pro in no time.
You haven't baked a pie since, well, last Thanksgiving.
That's okay! Instead of panicking over your dough-making or blind-baking technique, bake a practice pie a few weeks beforehand. Think of it as a low-stakes way to try a new pie recipe or reacquaint yourself with an old favorite. Besides, what's the worst that can happen? Even if it isn't perfect, you'll still have a freshly-baked pie to enjoy.
You’re afraid of overworking the dough.
Many people are worried about overworking their pie dough, but don’t be afraid to put your back into it! You want everything to happen quickly (to avoid dreaded butter meltage) so use your muscles and get into when you’re cutting in butter or banging chilled dough out with your rolling pin.
Your pie dough is too crumbly.
Avoid the crumbles by ensuring your dough has fully come together after cutting in the butter. Fold the dough over itself until there aren’t any dry floury bits left. You want a unified texture for a dough that’s easy to work with. If the dough is really loose and dry, keep adding water by half teaspoonful — be careful, it’s really easy to add too much water.
Your pie dough is cracking.
No biggie. Just close it back up with your fingers or tear a piece from the edge and use it to patch any holes. No one will ever know.
Your pie has a soggy bottom.
Blind baking, a technique where you bake the empty crust before adding any filling, is a huge help to avoid a soggy bottom. If you’re worried about fruit pies with crusts that you’re not blind baking, you can cover the bottom crust with a thin layer of cream cheese or a mixture of equal parts flour and turbinado sugar. Both act as a sealant or barrier between the crust and the filling.
Your filling is bubbling over.
That’s a good thing! Bubbling in the very center is a pretty solid indication your pie is ready to come out of the oven. To avoid oven spillage, bake your pies on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Your pie filling is wobbly.
With custard pies, do the jiggle test. Once you have approximately a four-inch diameter in the center that is still pretty jiggly, it’s ready to come out of the oven. The pie will continue to bake when it comes out so leaving it in at this stage might cause it to overbake. If the jiggle extends farther out to the edges, keep it in the oven and check back in a few minutes.
Your pie just...didn't work.
If your finished pie just isn't something you want to serve guests, there's no need to beat yourself up. Guess what? It happens — even to the pros. So give yourself one less thing to worry about by leaving the pie to us. Our holiday menu offers familiar favorites like pumpkin, pecan and apple to twists like our Scarlett Pie (a delicious combination of juicy pear, tender apples and figs, and tart cranberries).
Check out How to Make Pie: The Ultimate Guide for even more pie how-to's, recipes, tricks and tips.