Baking multiple pies at once

Hi! I am making 31 pies this Thanksgiving (have strong-armed friends, family, and lovely coworkers to buy pies from me so that I have the great joy of making them and then can also donate the proceeds to a good cause). I have a normal--not amazing, not bad--oven in my home. I've baked two pies at a time before, but am hoping to do four (or even six) at a time to get these 31 pies baked off more quickly.

Does anyone have advice for this? Am I silly to worry that four pies at a time (on baking sheets) will make my oven work differently than normal? Should I add five or ten degrees to the baking temp, or be prepared to add a few minutes to the baking time?

Thank you!!!

Alexandra
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11 Comments

Alexandra November 28, 2017
Hi Kate and Erin!

Thank you so much for your wise words last week. I wanted to report in that, though it was a long night (with as you predicted/suggested, LOTS of rotating), the pies all got made!

I learned a lot from both of you and this process! Thank you again and I hope you both had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Best,
Alexandra
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Liza F. November 7, 2019
Hello, Alexandria. I'm in the same boat as you. Would you be willing to share what you learned? I have a standard oven as well and need to make 50 apple and 30 pumpkin pies. I would very much appreciate an update on what you wound up doing. I realize it's been a couple of years but I'm guessing you still make pies in mass quantities. Thanks!
 
Alexandra November 8, 2019
Hi Liza!

I am thrilled that you reactivated this old thread, and am so excited for your huge pie baking undertaking! 80 pies! That's incredible!

The tips that Kate and Erin provided here were excellent. I rotated my pies (calmly and quickly) a lot that year and did not use sheet pans. I made 45 pies last year (to the year before that's 31) using the same tips.

I found that my oven performed best with just four pies in at a time, instead of six. Last year I completely prepped all my apple pies and froze them whole, then baked them from frozen. For me, I found that that was a mistake. They took an unimaginably long time (almost three hours!) to bake fully, making it so that, with my oven indisposed for so long (I had two batches of frozen apple pies to bake off, so it took a total of six hours instead of the two I'd planned for!), it threw off my whole schedule by a lot.

One thing I haven't really done in previous years has been prep my fillings in advance. I'd get the easiest-to-assemble pies in the oven first (pecan) and then as those baked off in batches, I'd prep other fillings. I've been working in a little pie bakery in my neighborhood this year and have learned a lot about their process for prep, including prep for fillings. They keep their fillings prepped and in the fridge for up to about five days and then, each time we bring the fillings out to use them/fill and bake pies, we just give the vats of filling a nice big stir (or jostle, in the case of less stir-able fillings like apple). For my own pies this year, I'm going to employ a similar technique. I'm making apple, maple custard, and pecan pies; I'm planning to make the maple filling and the apple filling over the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving and then have it ready to just put into prepared pie crusts. If you've got large enough containers (I actually even bought some 18-quart cambro containers with lids for my prep this year), I think you could do the same thing with your pumpkin and apple fillings. I'm planning to pre-make the apple filling for mine as well as the maple, which is the same consistency and shares most of the same ingredients as a typical pumpkin pie.

I also have had a lot of success with making as many crusts beforehand as possible. I like to parbake every crust I use, unless I'm making a fruit pie, so I make lots of dough, roll it out, fit it into tins, and freeze them in stacks. Even if you don't like to parbake your pumpkin pie crusts, you could probably make your crusts ahead of time and freeze them until you need them; you could also freeze dough in discs for apple pie! They do this at the pie shop, too, only they roll out crust, place it in tins, and stack the shells up and put them in the fridge instead of the freezer because, since we go through them so quickly, they only ever sit in the fridge for a day or two. In either scenario, fridge or freezer, I wrap the stacks in plastic wrap.

One final thought is that, to save time with all those apple pies, you could either make and roll out your dough ahead of time and leave it in flat, rolled-out rounds in the fridge until you need them to top the apple pies/make lattice/whatever you plan to do. But you could also do single-crust apple pies! That way you could make all 80 pie shells (starting, like, now!), freeze them in stacks, and then just fill and bake. You could top your apple pies with a streusel/crumb topping instead of a second pie crust--that would cut down both on your prep time and your cost. Streusel can also be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. You could make a few giant ziplock bags of it and just have it ready and waiting.

Good luck and have the best time! :) Please report back!
Alexandra
@piemaintenance
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Sherri B. November 21, 2019
Hello. I was wondering what position you had the oven racks in? I only have 2.
Thanks
 
Alexandra November 21, 2019
I also just have two racks in my little standard oven. I put my racks on the second-to-the-top notches and the second-to-the-bottom notches, then switch the pies from one rack to the other halfway through, so they all get the opportunity to crisp up on the bottom and turn golden on the top.
 
Kate M. November 20, 2017
Alexandra- The heat distribution issue is why I would do them without the sheet pans.

There are drip catchers (that have a little hollow spot in the center) that can help with that, but because they are so large, it makes getting multiples (more than 2) on the rack challenging. You can to a search for them online so you can see.

But you might make a homemade version by using a piece of lightweight foil around the bottom of each pie and coming up on the sides. You may have to splice to pieces together depending on the size of your pan. I took a little photo to give you the idea. You could also bring them up slightly over the edges to make sure they don't get too brown and pull them back if more color is needed. In my experience, foodservice heavyweight foil does not allow the bottom of the pie to bake up well when making this moat.

I absolutely agree with Erin that opening the oven to move the pies around will affect the baking heat. Plan your moves and then do them calmly and quickly.

Kate McDermott
artofthepie.com
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Erin J. November 20, 2017
Echoing the call for lots of rotation - the downside of lots of rotation is escaped oven heat which can lead to problems in multiple ways. I’d suggest starting with 4 pies at a time (I’ve done this successfully in my home oven - also nothing special!) and see if you have any issues - if not maybe you can stretch it to 6 from there on out!
 
Kate M. November 20, 2017
Yes, you can definitely do this, Alexandra.

In a standard 30" oven you can usually do 2 racks with 3 pies each. The pies are placed on a rack somewhat like a pyramid with 2 pies in front and 1 pie in back on one shelf, and 1 pie in front and 2 pies in back on the other rack.

In a 36" oven you may be able to get four on a rack; 2 in front and 2 in back.

Before you attempt the bake, make sure the pans will actually fit on the rack. When the oven is off, place the pans on the rack to get an idea of how many will or won't, fit. Pans with extra wide rims can take up a lot of room and make it difficult to fit multiple pans. The pans will need some space between them so the heat can distribute.

Instead of a sheet pan, you may want to put an oven proof drip mat on a third rack, if you have one, at the bottom of the oven, or directly on the floor of the oven, but be sure to check your manufacturer's recommendations for both the oven and mat.

If you have an oven that has a reliable multi-rack convection setting, use it.

Keep an eye on the sides of the pies. If they are placed too close to, or are touching, the metal upright supports that hold the racks you may get burn on the sides.

You may also need to move the pies around, especailly if the oven has hot and cool spots.

You will not need to increase your oven temp, but since you will be baking a mass of pies, you may have to add a bit more time at the end of the bake to make sure they are done.

I hope these tips will help you.

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

Kate McDermott
artofthepie.com





 
Alexandra November 20, 2017
Kate! Thank you so very much. All of this is so valuable and makes me feel confident!

Regarding your suggestion of not using a sheet pan on each rack, under the pies--if I CAN fit my desired number of pies on the sheet pan, without the sides of the pies touching each other, would it be OK to use sheet pans? I'm nervous that if I don't, the top rack pies will drip onto the pies below (particularly with the batches of fruit pies).

However, if your suggestion of not using sheet pans is because using them will prevent heat from distributing evenly, I will absolutely not use them.
 
Lindsay-Jean H. November 20, 2017
Hi Alexandra, I would make sure to rotate their positions midway through cooking. I'm also going to check to see if one of our pie wizards has additional wisdom to impart, stay tuned!
 
Alexandra November 20, 2017
Thank you! I will absolutely stay tuned!
 
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