Baking a pie is an American pastime. There are few things quite as enjoyable as a fresh, hot pie just waiting to be eaten as it cools in the windowsill. But there is one part of the baking process that every baker dreads: the edges of the pie crust burning.
This is because the edges of your pie are much less dense than the rest of the pie. What takes the longest to cook is the center of the pie. This is where the bulk of the pie, including the filling, is located.
Not having a properly cooked filling can be disastrous for your pie. If it is undercooked, it can make the pie filling runny and soupy; this means that your pie will be completely unenjoyable and totally ruined. So it is imperative that the center of your pie be cooked thoroughly.
And since the edges of your pie don’t have all that crust and filling that the center of your pie does, it cooks at a much more rapid pace. This is what leads to those nasty, burnt edges of the pie that can make even the most delicious of concoctions less enjoyable overall.
Thankfully, there are measures that you can take to ensure that your perfect pie doesn’t become a wasted effort. Never let a burnt edge ruin your pie again and instead enjoy a picture perfect pie each and every time.
Say No to Foil Along the Edges
Most people baking a pie tend to just haphazardly scrunch up some strips of aluminum foil all around the edges of the pie. The idea here is that it will heat the edges from the pie without it winding up crispy and burnt.
But that foil tends to fall off the edges more often than not and you wind up with a burnt, nasty pie crust. It doesn’t necessarily mean that aluminum foil isn’t the right thing to do the job; it just means that it is being improperly used.
There are some premade shields out there but sometimes we just don’t have everything that we need for the perfect pie on hand and don’t want to have to run to the grocery store to get that perfect cook. The foil is perfectly fine to use; it is just often used so improperly that it can seem as if foil is a bad tool for the job.
And in all actuality, you can make your own pie shield from aluminum foil and it will work just fine. It just takes a little patience and some minor adjustments for you to have the kind of crust shield that will keep your pie protected from becoming burned.
Creating Your Own Pie Crust Shield
To begin, you will need to tear off a sheet from your aluminum foil that is big enough that it will cover the entirety of your pie. Even better, you don’t need to buy heavy-duty foil to make this happen (but having heavy-duty foil doesn’t hurt things).
If you pick up a bulk roll of aluminum foil, it could last you through several years of pies to come.
When you have ripped off your piece of aluminum foil, you’ll need to fold it in half and then do so again. This is the same method that you would use were you making a paper snowflake.
The next step is to cut a curve all around the edge of your foil. This is to make sure that the circle that you form will be large enough to fit all the way around the outside of the pie dish that you are moving.
After cutting another curve that is around three inches or so inside of your first slice, you should wind up with a ring that is large in size. This is what makes up your pie shield and it is okay if those cuts don’t result in a perfect circle.
Another cool thing that you may not have realized is that not only will the foil not ruin your scissors but it can actually help to sharpen them. That can keep your scissors nice and sharp while giving you the pie crust shield that you need.
Using Your Homemade Pie Crust Shield
Now that you have the pie crust shield ready to go, it is time to make use of it. The shield needs to be secured in order to keep the edges of your pie safe and secure. No one wants to go through the process of creating a pie shield only to have improper placement still result in a burnt pie crust.
When you have finished cutting out your pie crust shield from aluminum foil, using the shield is actually very simple to do. Make certain to set the ring of your foil on the crust so that it outlines the edges of your pie.
After you have your pie crust shield in place, begin to lightly crimp the foil all the way around the edge of the pan. This is so it will stay in place and keep your pie crust edges insulated from potential burning that could occur otherwise.
It is important that you not crimp your aluminum foil too hard around the edges of your pie. This might not have an impact on the overall cook of your pie but it will certainly make the decorative edges of your pie look smashed and uneven. Avoid that whenever possible.
There are actually two ways that you can implement your pie crust shield into the baking process of your pie: put it on early or put it on at the end. Whatever your preferred method of implementing the pie crust shield, it will work out just fine.
If you decide to use the pie crust shield at the beginning of the cooking process, follow the instructions above by crimping it all around the edge of your pie. When there are 20 minutes or so left in the bake time, you will want to remove your shield.
There is, of course, the process of putting it on when your pie is nearly the perfect baking point. When you think your pie is right near the crispy golden that it should be, pull the pie out and crimp your pie crust cover over the edges.
By doing this, the foil will protect the edges of your pie from overbaking since the center of your pie needs to cook more. That will keep your edges nice and golden brown instead of burning them to a crisp and ruining the entirety of the pie.
Let Your Pie Properly Cool
One of the most important parts of baking a pie, particularly one with fruit in it, is what comes after you take it from the oven. It is important that you let your pie cool properly before even slicing it.
This can seem like an unfair form of torture since you spent all that time making this wonderful treat and now have to wait to enjoy it. But there is a reason for letting it cool.
Because most pies are fruit pies, it means that there is a higher level of sugar in them. They have a higher cook temperature, which is what takes the pie longer to cook in the middle. And it is because of this sugary center that we must let it cool.
If you slice into your pie right away, the pie will not have a chance to set up. This means that your pie will essentially be liquid syrup and it will flood out of the pie. That leaves you with a pie crust that has collapsed in and a filling that needs a spoon to eat like a sugary soup.
By resting the pie, you give the starches that are in the filling a chance to set up. By setting up, the filling turns gelatinous, giving it that pliable texture that holds everything into place. That is what makes for a clean, delicious slice of pie without the mess.
It could take some time for your pie to properly cool but you will be grateful that you exercised patience. When your pie is allowed to cool and set up, it is then the type of firm, delicious pie that will melt in your mouth and not all over the pie dish.
Baking the perfect pie may seem to be a bit of a complicated endeavor but there are simple steps to follow. Keeping the edges of your pie is important so that the burnt taste doesn’t ruin the rest of the crust.
Yet at the same time, there is patience necessary in order to get the pie to set up properly. But when you follow these steps, you wind up with a perfectly baked pie that is ready to be enjoyed by all. Get a step or two wrong and you will wind up with a less-than-perfect confectionery treat that needs a little understanding more than anything else.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.