You’ve got company coming over. You want to impress them with a gorgeous, flaky, gourmet looking homemade pie. As they say, the devil is in the details. With pie this is truth.
If a cracked crust isn’t on your menu, may I humbly suggest venting your fruit pies properly will keep your crust intact. As far as keeping your sanity intact when company is coming, you’ll have to figure that one out on your own!
First make your pie crust. You can check out my tips to successful pie crust making in my previous post. Once you have your crust rolled, your pie filled with fruit and your top crust in place, make sure you vent it before it goes into the oven.
Venting your crust is relatively easy, but you do have several options to choose from.
- Take a sharp knife and cut a slit in the middle. Then cut several smaller slits, I would suggest 4 – 6, midway between the center and edge of your pie. Here’s a good pictorial example of simple knife slit pie venting.
- Then, there are those adorable pie birds like this one from Williams-Sonoma. I tend to only keep multi-tasking tools in my kitchen so as cute as they are, I don’t own one.
- A cookie cutter is my tool of choice to cut a larger hole in the center. I use a mini cutter and customize it to the season. Williams-Sonoma puts out the cutest sets every year. They are adorable and I use them quite often. My sister got me the winter one for Christmas last year. Sometimes I just cut out multiple pieces of crust and overlap them to create my top crust. I get lots of compliments and it dresses up the pie without much extra effort.
- You could also use a metal piping tip for your center vent, although I would actually recommend inserting the larger end into the crust first (the reverse of how it’s pictured here). It will work essentially the same as the pie bird, but you’ve probably already got it in your kitchen. I would go with a larger size piping tip with an open end as opposed to a leaf tip, etc. I would also cut a few additional slits with a sharp knife between the center vent and the edge of the pie crust just to be on the safe side.
- Chicago Tribune and Chef’s Joy agree that using raw pasta tubes is the way to go when venting a pie. They say it keeps the fruit juices from overflowing your pie and spilling onto your cookie sheet or oven bottom.
Proper venting will keep your fruit pies from splitting during baking.
One last consideration. I always make sure my crust is very cold when I put it into the oven. I actually prefer to bake a frozen pie, but very cold works, too. I bake my fruit-filled pie at 425 degrees (preheated) with the pie on a cookie sheet placed in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Once the pie has baked at 425 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, I simply turn the oven to 350 degrees to finish it off. It could take 40 – 60 minutes to finish the pie depending on the type and quantity of filling. I’ve read some recipes that call for a 375 degree oven, but in my experience this increases the risk of over baking and splitting your top crust.
If you’re still looking for more tips on pie baking, here’s a good place to go for some basic pie making information. Ken Haedrich is kind of long-winded and his video is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you might pick up a trick or two. You can even subscribe for free and continue your pie crust education through his Pie Academy.
If you happen to want those cookie cutters I mentioned, you might try this website for a coupon code for Williams-Sonoma.
It’s almost Easter. I hope you have pie on your menu and I wish you happy eating.