5 tools for perfect pies + my secret weapon

5 tools for perfect pies + my secret weapon |
1. OXO pastry cutter 2. Vic Frith French rolling pin 3. Pyrex pie plate
4. Pastry brushes from Good Cook 5. Norpro pie weights
all images taken from
Since we are midway through pie season, I thought it would be nice to share with you my thoughts on the tools you might like to have on hand when you are baking a pie.

To prepare the dough: you have options

I make my pie doughs and pastries with my hands. I am most comfortable that way, and I don’t happen to have a food processor anyway. When I’m at my parents’ house, I use their KitchenAid food processor. It is definitely much neater/works perfectly but, and I know this is going to sound crazy, I miss that connection with the dough. What’s even more interesting is that I don’t use the same tools as my mom to make pie doughs: she is a whiz with a pastry cutter, whereas I just don’t feel comfortable wielding one to work in the butter into the flour. So to make the dough, you have 3 options: your hands, a simple pastry cutter, or a full-sized food processor (the mini ones are just too mini).

To roll the dough: the rolling pin makes all the difference

I can honestly say I have tried all the rolling pin types out there: the straight/skinny pins, the French rolling pins, and even rolling pins with handles that spin. I absolutely HATED the one with the spinning handles (yes, capitals are necessary to describe the extent of my hatred). I used to have a pretty pink KitchenAid rolling pin. It was cute, but I hated it. It just felt clumsy, flimsier, and less efficient. Sorry, KitchenAid, I still love you and your other products, just not that rolling pin. My experience with that rolling pin also taught me that I hate rolling pins made out of plastic or silicone. The dough sweats/sticks extra with these materials. No good. I love rolling out pastries and doughs with my mom’s French rolling pin, which she didn’t love so much, so we traded. It’s wood, and I think it’s perfect (like these).

Not all pie plates are created equal

Ceramic pie plates are always gorgeous but if you are a novice baker, it’s really hard to see what’s going on behind the plate. I definitely recommend clear glass pie plates so that you can monitor the crust as your pie bakes (I usually favor brands like Pyrex or Anchor).

To brush off excess flour or brush on glaze

I like pastry brushes with hair-like bristles (whether natural or synthetic) and NOT silicone. Again, I know silicone is easier to wash and care for, but I don’t like the way silicone brushes on glaze because it’s hard to achieve a thin even layer with thick silicone bristles. Opt for old-school pastry brushes.

To blind-bake the pie crust

Now this one’s entirely optional because you might not even need to blind bake your crust before adding in your filling. And again, you have options! You can use/reuse a bunch of dried beans or even rice, or you can buy a set of pie weights. The difference is pie weights can be washed, and beans/rice, not so much. Then again, how much do beans cost? But I hate wasting food…

My secret weapon, a.k.a. how to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom

It’s simple, you probably have one already, and, if you’ve been read some of my pie recipes, you might know what it is: a cookie sheet. Yes, that’s right, to avoid a soggy bottom you use your cookie sheet like you would a pizza stone: put it in the oven before you set it to preheat, then by the time your pie is ready to bake, your cookie sheet is preheated and it will help cook the bottom of the pie, which is the hardest part for the oven heat to reach. Make sure before hand that your cookie sheet is large enough to accommodate the pie plate (I use a rimless sheet like this one).

So there you have it, the 5 essential tools (plus 1) that I think you should have on hand when you are making a pie. Am I missing any or do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments section below!


5 Responses to 5 tools for perfect pies + my secret weapon

  1. musingmar September 12, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Fantastic post! It’s so helpful to see the basics set out so clearly like this. Pie making can seem very intimidating, but as you’ve said, the right equipment makes a great difference. I don’t generally have the ‘soggy bottom’ problem, but I’m going to try the tray/baking stone idea to see if I can get the bottoms of my pie shells to be even crisper (I’m one of those ‘pastry people’ and the crust is my favourite part of the pie!). I’ll be sharing and referring to this post for sure!

    • Janice Lawandi September 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      I’m so happy that you liked it! The preheated baking sheet also helps avoid raw pie crust on the bottom, which to me is a HUGE no-no (though there’s a bakery in town that sells supposedly “the best pies” that seems to commit this raw-bottom crime every time I go!).

  2. Stephanie {Clockwork Lemon} September 13, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Love this post.. but I have to admit that it never occurred to me that the beans I have been using as pie weights wouldn’t be good anymore. Obviously I don’t cook dried beans very often because I have a habit of using them as pie weights, pouring them back into a tupperware container and putting them into the cupboard. Good thing I never tried to boil them up!

    • Janice Lawandi September 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Haha, I would definitely not boil them and eat them! But they don’t go bad either, but at a certain point, those beans have seen a lot of pies/flour/grease and I feel like they probably should get a good scrubbing, but then they are beans. You know?

  3. Elisa September 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Hi, I’ve just discovered your blog, thanks to the comment you left on “A Cozy Kitchen” and I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re blog is awesome 🙂 I’ve just flipped through your recipes and totally loved them! The pictures are gorgeous, too. I’ll be definitely following your blog from now on, you can count me among your readers!

    xo, Elisa

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