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Simple Tips to Keep Your Pie Crust From Burning

Simple Tips to Keep Your Pie Crust From Burning

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You know what they say about pie crusts? They’re so hard to get right—flaky, buttery, and perfectly golden—and way too easy to mess up. And it seems like every home baker has a story about burning a pie crust at least once.

But thank the baking gods for pie crust shields! Since I started using one, I’ve never had a pie crust burn on me. It’s a lifesaver, and I recommend having this kitchen tool in your drawer.

If you’re feeling crafty, you can DIY your pie crust protector using aluminum foil or parchment paper. I’ve also compiled several tips to keep your pie crust from burning for a picture-perfect pie every time.

Why Does the Pie Crust Burn?

The pie crust is often the first casualty in the oven, and there are a few reasons behind this.

The crust browns faster than the filling, especially the edges. Fruit filling, for instance, has a high water content. It takes time for moisture to evaporate and the filling to cook through.

So, while waiting for the filling to bubble and thicken, the crust might already be on its way to getting charred. In short, you avoid a runny pie at the expense of overbaking the crust.

Pies with high sugar content, like fruit or pecan pies, are even more prone to burning. The sugar caramelizes quickly, especially when combined with the butter or fat in the shortcrust pastry.

Plus, those thin, exposed crust edges? They’re practically begging to get crispy under the relentless heat of the oven.

How to Keep a Pie Crust From Burning

The best way to prevent burnt pie crusts is to make a collar around the rim of your dish pan. You can either buy one or create your own. Learn more below:

1 – Use a Pie Crust Shield

A pie crust shield is exactly as it sounds. It serves as a protective barrier that you place over the edges of your pie to prevent it from over-browning or burning while the rest of the pie bakes to perfection.

You can go for a silicone or metal pie crust shield. Whichever you choose, it’s a super handy kitchen tool to have around when baking any type of pie.

Silicone Pie Crust Shield

The biggest selling point of a silicone pie crust shield is that it’s adjustable, fitting pie pans from 8″ to 11.5″. It has slits or notches, so you can easily slide the lock in place.

Because it’s silicone, cleaning is a breeze, whether by hand or in the dishwasher. Any sticky filling just washes right off the non-stick material. Plus, it doesn’t hog too much drawer space.

But while the silicone is flexible, it can sit unevenly on the crust or sag in some areas. It may slip off during baking, too, so you need to adjust constantly.

Metal Pie Crust Shield

Another product worth trying to avoid overbaking your pie crust is a metal pie shield. Sure, it’s not adjustable like silicone, but its sturdy build and simplicity more than compensate for that.

The metal shield holds its shape without needing constant adjustment—just plop it over your pie crust, and you’re good to go. And because it’s stiff and inflexible, there’s no need to worry about it slipping or sagging, leaving your crust undisturbed.

The aluminum one is usually cheaper than the silicone. And if you’re using the same-sized pan for all your pies, you won’t need to buy it in multiple sizes.

If you are mad about pies and make them in all shapes and sizes, you can also buy the aluminum shield in sets of twos and fours.

2 – Create Your Pie Crust Shield

Many bakers just scrunch up some strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie. The idea is the same: to tone down the heat so the pie crust edges don’t wind up crispy, burnt, and inedible.

The problem is the foil tends to fall off, and you still end up with those dreaded blackened edges. It’s not that the aluminum foil isn’t effective; it’s just that maybe you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s a simple DIY solution using aluminum foil that will stay put and make your pie crust golden every time:

  1. Stretch your aluminum foil and tear a large square piece that’s big enough to cover the entire pie. 
  2. Fold your aluminum foil square into half two times so you end up with a one-fourth square.
  3. Fold your square diagonally, making a triangle.
  4. Make one last fold. You should have a narrow triangle this time.
  5. Lay your triangle on the pie with the pointed tip toward the center of the pie.
  6. Cut your folded triangle on the inner circle, 1–2 inches from the edge.
  7. Remove the inner piece and save it for future use. (Balled foil is effective in the dryer, dishwasher, and grill.)
  8. Unfold the outer piece carefully and lay it over your pie.
  9. Wrap your aluminum foil ring lightly around the edges of your pan before baking. It’s easier to remove the foil ring than to place it when the pie is hot.
  10. Set the timer 15 minutes earlier than the recommended baking time. Remove the pie ring when the timer goes off, reset the timer, and finish baking.

You can substitute the aluminum foil with parchment paper if you like. Either way, be careful when applying your makeshift pie crust protector to avoid ruining the crimp.

More Tips to Prevent the Pie Crust From Burning

Here are a few more tips to prevent your pie crust from burning and ensure a golden sheen:

  • Place a baking sheet above your pie to block the radiant heat from the upper coils of your oven. Then, remove the sheet three-fourths of the way through cooking to achieve that toasty finish.
  • Too much sugar or fat in your pie dough can cause burnt crusts. Opt for a simple 3-2-1 dough recipe: three parts flour, two parts fat, one part water, and a pinch of salt.
  • Create a thicker edge for your crust using a braided, ribbon, or pleated crimp. The crust will take longer baking time, not to mention a substantial slice.
  • Make sure your oven is calibrated. Better yet, invest in an oven thermometer for accurate temperatures all the time.
  • Consider baking your pie in a clear glass dish. That way, you can keep an eye on how brown the bottom and sides get, not just the top.
  • If you notice one side of your pie crust browning faster than the other, rotate the pie and place it as close to the oven door as possible. Uneven browning may be due to hot spots in your oven.
  • Par-cook (partially cook) your fruit filling to reduce overall baking time. The pie crust will spend less time exposed to the intense heat, decreasing the risk of it burning before the filling is fully cooked.
  • Place your pie on the lowest rack halfway through baking.
  • Adjust the temperature to about 20 degrees lower than what the recipe suggests.

How to Fix Burnt Pie Crust

Trash bins are no place for homemade pies, and a burnt crust shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the rest of it. Here’s a couple of tips to try:

1 – Trim Off the Burnt Edges

If there are dark patches on the crust, gently shave them off with a sharp knife or zest grater once the pie has cooled completely. Just don’t press too hard to avoid ruining the crust.

For single-crust pies like sweet potato or pumpkin pie, remove the burnt edges and replace them with a decorative whipped cream border, assuming the bottom isn’t burnt, of course.

Is the top crust beyond repair? Discard the burnt top crust and cover the pie with whipped cream.

Or, you can swap it out for a store-bought pie crust, chilled for at least two hours. Roll out, crimp, and egg wash the replacement crust. Pop your pie back in the oven and bake it for about 25 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to avoid any more mishaps.

2 – Make a Pie Parfait

If the whole crust is a lost cause, but the filling is cooked through, why not turn it into a pie parfait? Here’s how:

  1. Scoop out the filling into a bowl and ditch the burnt crust.
  2. Grab some whipped cream and crushed graham crackers.
  3. Layer the pie filling, whipped cream, and graham crackers in small glasses or dessert bowls.
  4. Finish with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers on top.

You can use whatever mix-ins and toppings you like—crushed Oreo cookies, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, it’s up to you!

Final Thoughts

Any time is a good time for baking pies. However, burnt pie crust can put a damper on things.

So, the next time you bake a pie, make a homemade pie crust ring or grab a premade pie crust shield to keep your pie crust from burning.

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