How to keep dough from sticking to the counter and tricks to baking better pies

As you might have guessed, we went all in for pies in this week’s food section. It’s our latest Year of Baking project, so we have a fun little video with some of our tips, but the real meat is in this story, which has some basic recipes and advice on making better pies.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind this pie-baking season:

  • Foil is your friend. As soon as you see the edges of the crust start to get brown, put a sheet of foil or one of those pie shields on top. It’s so easy to accidentally burn a pie crust, in part because recipes often call for lowering the heat at a certain time and cooks forget to do that, or because your oven burns a little hotter than you might realize.
  • Use a pizza cutter when slicing strips for a lattice, and don’t feel confined to the 1/2-inch strip. You could vary the widths of the pieces, make them all somewhat thick or crisscross them at less than 90 degrees. If you’ve never woven a lattice before, practice with strips of paper, just like you might have done in elementary school art class.
  • Rather than create the lattice directly on top of the pie, you can practice on a pastry cloth — an old school tool that might become your new best friend — or piece of parchment paper and then gently lay the completed lattice on top of the pie.
  • If you’re worried that your fruit pie filling is too runny, pour off some of the liquid and combine it with a few tablespoons of cornstarch. Some bakers always toss their fruit with cornstarch alongside the sugar and spices before baking.
  • No need to toast nuts before adding them to your dessert. They’ll get that rich, roasted taste as they bake with the rest of the pie.
  • To transport the dough from your floured counter or pastry cloth, gently roll it up so that it folds over the rolling pin.
  • A pie will keep on a countertop for a day or so, but cover and refrigerate after that.

    To get the hang of making a lattice, think like a third-grader in art class. Practice weaving with strips of paper, or you can cut strips of dough and practice weaving them together on a pastry cloth or sheet of parchment paper, so you can start over if you mess up. Place the dough back in the fridge if it starts to get too warm. Tina Phan / American-Statesman

    To get the hang of making a lattice, think like a third-grader in art class. Practice weaving with strips of paper, or you can cut strips of dough and practice weaving them together on a pastry cloth or sheet of parchment paper, so you can start over if you mess up. Place the dough back in the fridge if it starts to get too warm. Tina Phan / American-Statesman

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