3 simple baking tips from “The Great British Bake Off” for perfect pies this Thanksgiving

Elevate your pie-making game with these helpful tips and tricks from the "Bake Off" baking experts

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published November 12, 2023 12:01PM (EST)

Assortment of homemade fall pies (Getty Images/jenifoto)
Assortment of homemade fall pies (Getty Images/jenifoto)

For some people, Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect time to revel in a slew of comfort foods, like turkey, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. But for others — including myself — the annual holiday is the best time to enjoy its greatest dessert staple: pie.    

Whether you’re a fan of classic apple pie or something more decadent, like chocolate pecan pie, you can agree that pies are arguably the highlight of a Thanksgiving feast. Of course, making pies from scratch is a whole different story. There’s prepping the dough and putting together the filling. Then there’s assembling the pie and baking it to perfection.

It’s all quite intimidating and overwhelming to do on your own, which is why “The Great British Bake Off” is here to help! These helpful tips and tricks are guaranteed to elevate your pie-making game and give you a much-needed confidence boost in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

The colder the dough, the better the pie

Perhaps the most important tip to keep in mind when making pie is to make sure your dough is kept nice and cold during every single step. That means adding cold, diced butter and ice water into your homemade pie crust. That means popping your dough into the refrigerator immediately after making it. And that means chilling your dough after you roll it out, shape it into your pie pan and fill it.

The colder the dough, the easier it is to crimp the edges of your crust, which will yield a prettier pie. Cold dough will also make for a flakier pie crust — because no one wants their crust to be tough or chewy.

To help keep your dough incredibly cold, the baking experts also suggest chilling “your ingredients, bowl and anything else coming into contact with your pastry-in-progress.” You can also run your fingers under cold water before working with your dough. You can even stash your rolling pin and other necessary kitchen utensils in the fridge for a few minutes before handling the dough.

Also the colder the filling, the better the pie

We’ve all probably had (or even made) pie that’s devoid of a bottom crust. Well, to clarify: It’s not that there’s absolutely no crust at the bottom of the pie but rather, the crust becomes so wet from the filling that it’s practically non-existent. In the world of "Bake Off," that's what's infamously become known as "soggy bottom."

When it’s time to add the filling into your pie, make sure they’re cool before they go on top of your fresh pie crust. Hot filling will result in a soggy bottom, meaning all your filling will seep out once the baked pie is cut into and served.

Blind baking works wonders for your pie

Blind baking is the process of baking a pie crust without the filling. Some recipes call for it and others don’t. But regardless, it’s essential to always blind bake your pies to help keep the crust from becoming soggy due to a wet filling.

Ceramic baking beads are often the go-to when blind baking. But if you don’t have them on hand, you can also use uncooked rice or copper coins on top of a sheet of baking parchment, according to “The Great British Bake Off” experts.

Additionally, the experts recommend baking pie crust in the middle of the oven: “This lets the hot air circulate around the whole pastry case and cook it evenly. If the edges are browning more quickly than the rest of the bake, cover them with tin foil to stop them from catching any more.”

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Baking Baking Tips Food Pies Thanksgiving The Great British Bake Off