Make sure the egg whites are at soft-peak stage and stabilized with cream of tartar before gradually adding sugar. Measure the sugar carefully to avoid adding too much.
Yes, freeze baked pies first to make wrapping easier, wrap with freezer wrap or place in resealable plastic freezer bags, and then seal and label. Pies are baked before freezing to prevent soggy crusts. Baked frozen pies will keep up to 4 months.
Three egg whites equal approximately 3 tablespoons meringue powder + 6 tablespoons water. Look for exact directions on the container of meringue powder. You can find meringue powder in most cake-decorating specialty stores or cake-decorating departments of craft stores.
Traditionally bakers have lightly dusted the surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking. You may need to repeat dusting with flour occasionally. Or, use a pastry cloth and stockinet-covered rolling pin to make rolling the dough easier, and to help prevent dough from sticking. Rub flour evenly onto rolling pin stockinet-cover and pastry cloth for easy handling. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for about one hour.
A meringue will leak or weep if the meringue is spread on the cream pie when the filling is not hot. Be prepared so the meringue is ready and the filling is hot at the same time. Place the filling into the baked pie crust and immediately top with the meringue. Also quick cooling of the pie causes beading on meringues. Cool very slowly in a turned-off oven. Keep the oven door ajar.
Cover the edge of the pie with a 2 to 3-inch wide strip of aluminum foil, and mold lightly around edge of pie. Bake as directed. Remove aluminum foil 15 minutes before end of baking time to allow edge to brown.
Spread a thin layer of meringue over the pie’s hot filling, and then add additional meringue. The thin layer will provide a base on the cream filling for the remaining meringue to adhere to.
It is amazing how your hands and simple tools can result in special finishing touches. Techniques include simply pinching the edge with fingers or using a fork, to braiding the dough or weaving a lattice top.
Unwrap a frozen 2-crust pie and thaw at room temperature for 1 hour. Reheat in 325° F. oven on lowest rack for 35 to 40 minutes until warm.
To prevent pie crusts from shrinking, roll pastry two inches beyond the edge of the inverted pie plate.
Ease the pastry gently into the pie plate, pressing toward the center with fingertips, then toward the edge of the plate to remove any air bubbles. This keeps the pastry from stretching, which causes shrinkage during baking. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1-inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with the edge of the pie plate.
Flute as desired, then hook fluted edge over the edge of the pie plate to secure. Chill the dough in the pan for 15 minutes before filling and baking.
Using too much flour and overworking the dough will contribute to tough (non-flaky) pastry or pie crust. Measure flour accurately and use only enough additional flour to keep the pastry from sticking to the pastry cloth.
A flaky pastry is one that flakes or separates into thin layers as in pie crust, puff pastry, Danish pastry and croissants. Fat or butter creates flakiness by being a spacer between the layers of dough. Pieces of cold, hard fat keep layers of the dough apart in the oven just long enough for the dough to begin to set. The fat melts, and then steam from the dough forms and pushes the layers apart.
The butter should be cold when used in pastry, and must be in large enough pieces so it will not melt easily. If the butter is very cold and firm when the dough goes into a hot oven, the layers of dough will be spaced apart as they begin to bake and set, resulting in a flaky pastry or pie crust.
The secret of a well-baked tender bottom crust is in choosing the right pie plate or pan, and baking long enough at a high temperature, usually 425° F. In addition, the following methods may help to prevent a soggy crust:
Yes, the egg whites will become dry and collapse. To revive them, beat 1 additional egg white until frothy. Then, very gently stir into the over-beaten egg whites until they are shiny and moist again.
If the meringue is not sealed well around the pie it can shrink back away from the edge of the pie. To seal the meringue, spread it so it touches the edges of the pie crust all around the pie. Add 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar per egg white to the meringue mixture. This will help to keep the meringue from shrinking. Also an oven that’s too hot can cause meringues to shrink.
The temperature in your recipe should be reduced 25° F. Even when the temperature is lowered by 25° F. you can expect the food to be done 25% faster than the recipe suggests.
Heat-resistant glass pie plates give the flakiest results, but aluminum pans with a dull finish or darkened pie pans yield, tender, browned crusts as well. Shiny metal pans reflect the heat and may result in soggy, soaked bottom crusts. Use the pan size recommended in your recipes.
One method is to prick pastry thoroughly with a fork to prevent puffing during baking. Bake pie shell as directed in recipe.
A second method is to use dried beans or pie weights. Gently press lightweight aluminum foil into the pastry-lined plate. Fill with dried beans (about 4 cups for a 9-inch pie plate); bake as directed in recipe, but remove liner and beans a few minutes before the end of the baking period.
First, it is easier to separate egg whites from the egg yolk when the egg is cold. After separating, let the egg whites come to room temperature before beating which will result in a greater volume.
Beat egg whites in a clean, dry glass or metal bowl (never a wood or plastic bowl) with a clean beater. Even the smallest amount of fat from the egg yokes can slow down the foaming. A wood or plastic bowl can hold hidden traces of fat also. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form but not until the egg whites are dry. A beaten egg white should more than triple in volume.
The whipped cream should be soft, smooth, light and fluffy in texture and should double in volume. Make sure cream, bowl and beaters are all chilled; that will shorten the length of time it takes to beat the cream. If the whipping cream is over beaten, dry and separated there is no way to return it to its creamy texture. The solution is to start over with more whipping cream.
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