UACES Facebook Perfect Pies for Thanksgiving
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How Do I Make a Perfect Pie?

Here are some tips to ensure your favorite pie turns out perfect!

Nashville, Ark. – Homemade pie is one of the traditions we enjoy most this time of the year. Whether you plan to have Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan or another favorite, perfect pie making can be a little tricky. However, nothing is more impressive than a delicious slice of pie to end a holiday meal. Here are some tips to ensure your favorite pie turns out perfect!

            Pumpkin pie is a custard type pie and should be prepared ahead of time, if possible. Try mixing together the ingredients for the pie filling and refrigerating it overnight or for several hours before pouring into the crust and baking. This allows the ingredients to blend thoroughly and may help prevent “weeping,” or the release of extra moisture, once the pie has been chilled. Other tips to help prevent “weeping” include:

How do I keep my pie crust from weeping?

  • Adding a layer of cookie crumbs in the bottom of a pre-baked crust to help absorb extra moisture. Graham cracker crumbs or Ginger Snaps add delicious flavor to pumpkin pies. You might be adventurous and try other cookie crumbs for different flavors.
  • Sometimes, when pre-baking a pie crust, the crust cracks. Plan ahead when rolling out the dough and reserve any scraps. Use these to patch the crust before pouring in the filling to keep the custard from leaking through the cracks.
  • Pre-bake the crust before pouring in the filling.
  • Bake the pie shell at 450 degrees until the edges are lightly browned and the walls of the crust have lost their raw look. Start with eight (8) minutes up to twenty (20) minutes to bake the crust. Start with the shortest time and then watch carefully until the crust has baked to the perfect degree of doneness.
  • Prick the crust before baking to allow steam to escape and prevent shrinkage of the pie crust.
  • Use an egg wash to create a seal before pouring in the filling. To make an egg wash; lightly beat an egg with a tablespoon of cold water or milk, and brush the sides and bottom of the crust with egg wash. Return the crust to the oven and bake an additional two to three minutes, until the egg wash is dry and golden.

Why does my pumpkin pie crack?            

Custard pies, including pumpkin, sometimes crack during baking. This happens when the pie has been over-baked. The edges of the pie finish cooking before the center has set; as the pie cools, it shrinks, forming cracks. Here are some tips to avoid this common baking problem.

  • Bake the pie at a moderate temperature. 350 degrees F is a moderate oven temperature. You might consider baking custard pies in a water bath. To do this, place the pie on a pan that is larger than the pie plate. Add a small amount of water, up to ½ inch, to the pan and sit the pie in the water. This allows more even cooking of the custard.
  • Use a pie pan that is big enough for the pie filling. Do not overfill to prevent spill over and having a mess to clean up in the oven once the pie is baked.
  • Remove the pie from the oven when the edges are set but the center still has a little “wiggle.” If the filling has started to puff up and soufflé, you have waited too long.
  • Remove the pie carefully from the oven and allow it to cool.
  • Remove the pie from the water bath to cool on a rack. Discard the water once it has cooled.

            Remember, pumpkin pie is not the only option for Thanksgiving and holiday meals. Many people enjoy sweet potato pie, butternut, or acorn pie instead. Be creative!

            Whether you have made pies for years or you will be preparing your first Thanksgiving dinner, consider baking a pie. They can be made ahead of time to save you extra time on an already busy morning. Be sure to refrigerate any custard pies once they have cooled to prevent the growth of potential harmful bacteria from the eggs and milk in the custard.

            For more information on safe holiday food preparation, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. Ask for the handout on Holiday Food Safety. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Research and Extension.

Many people are intimidated when it comes to making the crust. Often they opt for premade crusts. However, it is pretty simple to make a flaky crust. Here is my favorite crust, which was shared by my mother, Nelda Barton, a member of the Twilight EHC Club. Warning, this crust will melt in your mouth!

Mom’s Pie Crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • Approximately 1/3 cup water
  1. Sift together the flour and salt.
  2. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture is about the size of a pea.
  3. Pour in the water and stir until mixture holds together. You may not use all the water. It will depend upon the humidity in the air.
  4. Divide dough in half and roll out to desired size. This recipe makes enough crust for two 9-in. pies or one double crust pie. Only roll out half of the crust at a time.
  5. Fit into pie plate, prick edges and bottom of pie crust with a fork
  6. Bake at 450 degrees until lightly browned.

Note: Follow your pie recipe for baking the crust. Many recipes will call for the crust to bake as the pie filling bakes.


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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