Are you baking pies this holiday season? Feeling intimidated? Don’t worry – here at Laurel Ridge Winery, we have you covered, from the best wine pairings for any pie, to creating the best ever from scratch pie.
One of our culinary consultants, and the chef behind our wine club release parties, Kevin Bechtel, just so happens to be a “pie champion” (literally). He has over 35 years of experience in the food and restaurant industry. An award winning chef, he is a former Board Member, Board President, and Chair of the International Corporate Chefs Association, as well as a Board Member, Board President, and Chair of the Oregon Restaurant Association. His awards include the prestigious Menu Master’s Award in 2011, and the IFMA Culinary Innovation Award in 2012. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded over 60 medals at the National Pie Championships.
Now to me of course, Kevin is better known as my dad. Over the years, a pattern has emerged…every Thanksgiving Eve, Kevin’s phone blows up with every food question imaginable. But the most requested topic of help is always the pie. Because really – is it even Thanksgiving without SOME sort of pie?! From pumpkin pies that just won’t set, to pecan pies that bake too quickly, to burned apple pie crusts…Kevin has heard it all. I asked my dad to share some of his best tips and troubleshooting for pies.
Pick the right dish, and bake accordingly:
Did you know that the color of your pan will affect how your pie bakes? Set yourself up for success by selecting the best pan.
Shiny pans, dark pans, and glass pans all cook differently. When baking a pie in a glass or ceramic pie pan, Kevin recommends baking at 25 degrees under the recommended temperature – so if your recipe calls for baking your pie at 350 degrees, he would recommend 325. Additionally, dark metal pans (or shiny pans) will cook the pie more quickly and produce a browner crust.
And don’t forget – always keep your pie dishes in the refrigerator until the last possible moment!
Creating the perfect pie crust is all about temperature. Why is it so important that everything is cold, you ask? “All of your ingredients should be cold – you can even put the flour in the fridge, as well,” Kevin explains. “The warmer your ingredients are, the stronger the gluten link will be, resulting in a tougher crust.”
Make sure your crust is well ventilated. Aside from being beautiful, Kevin explains that one of the appeals of a lattice crust it releases steam, resulting in a flaky, decadent crust. “If you’re trying to make a double vented pie, you have to make sure your slits are large enough to properly release steam.” Kevin recommends vents that are 2.5 to 3 inches in length. He also says this can be viewed as an opportunity to get creative. “Not everything has to be a complicated lattice. Think of fun decorating ideas like using cookie cutters to make holes, or using cookie cutters to make apples and leaves.” One of the additional benefits of these creative crusts? Better ventilation!
Trust the process – be patient when baking. Kevin says that one of the biggest mistakes novice bakers make is simply a lack of patience.
Remember to tag us on social media so we can see your pies! And if you have any further questions for Kevin, drop us a comment or a message! We’ll reach out to get your question answered!
Now stay tuned…if you want your lattice to look great and confidently know how find the perfect wine pairing for any pie, be sure to watch for my next blog post on decorating and serving the perfect pie!