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Par-Bake Your Double Crust Pies & Join the Anti-Soggy Crust Crusade

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You may have heard (or read) I’m on a crusade to rid the world of soggy pie crust bottoms. Too often, pies have gooey, pale bases when they should be crispy and golden all over. There are, however, lots of potential solutions for preventing soggy bottom crusts:

  • You can make sure your fruit filling isn’t overly juicy.
  • You can par-bake your single crust pies (a brief stint in the oven to help the crust set before you add a custard or fruit filling) or blind bake your cold-filled pies (like cream pies).
  • You can bake your pies in a glass pie plate, which helps promote browning and (bonus!) you can see when your pie has reached golden-bottomed perfection.
  • You can bake your pie on a pizza stone, which helps the bottom brown at a faster and more even rate.
Double crusts need a little par-bake love, too.
Double crusts need a little par-bake love, too. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Now, there’s one additional piece of advice to add to that list: the possibility of par-baking a double crust pie. I started doing this technique about 3 years ago, but I wasn’t sure the results were worth sharing. But, after streamlining the steps a bit, I think it’s something pie lovers should know is an option. It does take some extra effort and is likely not for the pie novice, but after you do it a few times, it gets easier and easier!

Here’s what you need to know:

See this overhang? You want this!
See this overhang? You want this! Photo by Mark Weinberg.

1. Start with excess on your bottom crust.

Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Sometimes, I roll out my bottom crust a bit thinner that my top crust, just for the sake of knowing this will help it brown better! Transfer your dough to the pie plate. Chill the pie crust in the plate for 10 minutes or so to help the dough relax, then use scissors to trim away the excess dough. You want to leave about 1 inch of excess dough hanging over the edge of the pie plate. This excess will help prevent the dough from shrinking (or, if it does shrink, you won’t lose too much of the edge). We will remove any excess dough after par-baking. Chill the dough again in the refrigerator or freezer until it’s nice and cold (about 15 to 30 minutes). Note: This is the perfect time to preheat your oven—425°F is my preferred pie crust baking temp.

Dried beans make for cheap pie weights.
Dried beans make for cheap pie weights. Photo by Mark Weinberg

2. Prepare for par-baking.

Use a fork to dock the pie crust all over the base. I usually throw in a few fork pricks on the side crust, too. Place a square of parchment over the dough and fill with pie weights. It’s a good idea to use enough pie weights to come at least halfway up the pie. This helps ensure the pie crust is properly weighted down and means it’s less likely to shrink or form large air bubbles during baking.

3. Par-bake.

Bake your bottom crust until it just begins to turn golden at the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights from the pie crust and return to the oven for 2 to 3 more minutes, just to ensure the base where the weights were isn’t visibly wet. If you want to, you can add a quick brushing of egg white or egg wash at this point, to help seal the base crust from the filling. The pie crust’s retained heat will cook the egg wash.

Don't let your crust cool too much before trimming.
Don't let your crust cool too much before trimming. Photo by Mark Weinberg

4. Trim the bottom crust.

Let the bottom crust cool for 3 to 5 minutes (but remember not to wait too long, as the crust’s easiest to trim while it’s still slightly warm). Use a pair of sharp kitchen scissors to trim the excess crust. Trim the crust so it meets flush with the edge of the pie plate. While you work, use your fingers to lightly loosen the pie edges from the edge of the pie plate. This will most likely happen naturally while you trim with scissors, but you can give it a little nudge in the right direction, if needed. Let the bottom crust cool completely before continuing.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

5. Fill and top your pie.

When the bottom crust is cooled, add your filling. Roll out your top crust on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Unfurl the dough on top of the pie. Use your handy scissors again to trim the excess dough from the sides, leaving about 1/2 inch all around the edge.

This doesn't have to look perfect! Just tuck away.
This doesn't have to look perfect! Just tuck away. Photo by Mark Weinberg

6. Tuck, tuck, tuck.

Tuck the excess top crust under the par-baked bottom crust. Don’t worry if this isn’t perfect—just do your best to make sure the top crust is adhered and the crimping will take care of the rest! You can use a small offset spatula or paring knife to help release the bottom crust from the pie plate, if needed, but otherwise, just tuck away!

We opted for simple, non-fancy fork edges.
We opted for simple, non-fancy fork edges. Photo by Mark Weinberg

7. Crimp.

The one unfortunate thing about this technique is, it does (in my opinion), limit your crimping options. When I do this, I opt for a fork crimp of some sort. It’s easy and really makes sure the two crusts are adhered together. Plus, it’s very difficult to do any sort of finger crimp with the partially baked dough underneath that top piece. Another option is to press with your finger, then place decorative cutouts around the sides. Either way, make sure your two crusts are crimped together before baking.

8. Finish and bake your pie.

Do your thing: Apply a coat of egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar. Cut vents in the top crust, then bake that bad boy. The pie is done when the filling is heated through and the top crust is golden brown. When you go to slice it, be prepared. That bottom crust is going to be oh-so-crispy. Can you dig it?! (The answer is, yes, you can.)

Erin McDowell is a baking aficionado, writer, stylist, and Test Kitchen Manager at Food52. She is currently writing a cookbook. You can learn more about her here.

Do you have any questions about par-baking double crust pies? Let us know in the comments!

Tags: Dessert, Bake, Tips & Techniques