Perfect Piecrusts

Whether you make your own piecrust dough or use the refrigerated variety, these tips will help you make your pie look and taste terrific.

Single-Double-Crust and Double-Crust Pies

An easy way to transfer the rolled-out pastry from the board to the pie plate is to loosely wrap the pastry around the rolling pin. Carefully lift the rolling pin, then unroll the pastry in the center of the pie plate.

Another method is to fold the pastry into quarters, then carefully lift and center the pastry in the pie plate and unfold.

Ease the pastry into the pie plate, being careful not to stretch it.

For a single-crust pie shell, trim the pastry to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold under the extra pastry and flute the edges. If you are going to bake the unfilled pastry shell, use a fork to prick the bottom and sides. Line the pastry-lined pie plate with a double thickness of foil before baking. Bake in a 450 degrees F. oven for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake pie shell for 5 to 6 minutes more or until golden.

For a double-crust pie, after adding the filling to the pastry-lined pie plate, trim the bottom pastry even with the rim of the pie plate. Cut slits in top crust for steam to escape and place on filling. Trim top pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold top crust under bottom pastry. Seal and flute edge before baking.

To help prevent juices from boiling out of a double-crust pie, seal the top and bottom crusts. After trimming the top crust to about 1/2 inch beyond edge of the pie plate, lift the edge of the bottom crust away from the plate, as shown, and fold the excess top crust under it to form a seal.

To make a large scallop, place your thumb flat against the outside edge of the pastry and press dough around your thumb with the thumb and index finger of your other hand on the inside edge of the pastry, as shown. Repeat around the crust at 1- to 2-inch intervals. For a rickrack edge, hold your thumb on its side and make intervals closer together.

Finishing Tips

To keep the edge of pastry from getting too brown, cover it with foil during the first half of baking. To make a foil frame, fold a 12-inch square of foil into quarters. Tear or cut out the center portion, creating an opening about 7 inches across. Unfold and loosely mold the foil rim over the edge of the pie.

After adding the pie filling, use a pastry cutter or a knife to cut the top pastry into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-wide strips. Start the lattice with the two longest strips crosswise to each other in the center of the filling. Add strips on each side of the center strips about 1/2 inch apart. Fold every other strip back as necessary to make a woven top. Repeat until there are 5 to 7 strips in each direction.