Sister Pie Shares Their Top 6 Secrets for the Best Pie Ever
The pies made at Detroit’s Sister Pie are pretty much every pie lover’s dream. The thing is, unless you’re able to stop into the bakery yourself, it’s not easy to get a slice of Sister Pie’s pie. They don’t ship and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon. But Sister Pie is loaning us one of their recipes from their new cookbook, “Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit,” just in time for the holidays. Starting October 17, you can try their seasonal Cranberry Crumble Pie for yourself by buying it at Whole Foods Market or ordering it online.
The Cranberry Crumble is founder and James Beard Foundation-nominated Lisa Ludwinski’s favorite. Each bite offers complex textures, especially when paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
So naturally, Ludwinski knows a thing or two about baking pies. Here are a few of the most common pie issues she’s come across — and her solves for them. Consider them the secrets to making your best pie yet.
1. You’re afraid of making pie dough.
“You’re not alone. People are really afraid of pie dough in general. I think they’re afraid to use a lot of force, but you really need to use your muscles and really work it, whether it’s when you’re using a pastry blender to cut in butter or banging chilled dough with your rolling pin, like we do in the bakery to flatten the dough before we roll it out. When you make pie dough, you want everything to happen quickly, and the only way that’s going to happen is if you’re using your strength and putting your whole body into it.”
2. Your pie dough is too crumbly.
“That might mean the dough hasn’t come together enough — fold the dough over itself in your mixing bowl until there aren’t any dry floury bits hanging around. Really bring it all together, so it’s one unified texture, and you’ll have a dough that’s easy to work with.”
3. Your pie dough is cracking.
“That’s totally normal. You can just piece it back together with your fingers, or you can take a little piece from the edge of the dough and place that where the hole or crack is to patch it up.”
4. You’re afraid of a soggy bottom.
“We blind bake a large percentage of our pies, which means that we’re almost fully baking our pie crust before we add any filling — we fit the dough into the pie pan and cover the formed crust with foil and use dried beans to weigh it down before we bake it in a 450°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown. For fruit pies with crusts that you’re not blind baking, we cover the bottom crust with a thin layer of cream cheese or something we call “crust dust,” which is a mixture of equal parts flour and turbinado sugar. They’re kind of invisible ingredients, but they serve as a sealant or barrier between the crust and the filling.”
5. Your filling is bubbling over.
“A bubbling fruit pie is your friend. It’s what we look for — when the fruit filling is bubbling right in the very center, it’s the number one sign it’s time for the pie to come out of the oven. When that happens, it’s a mess, so we always bake our pies on sheet trays lined with parchment paper.”
6. Your pie filling is wobbly.
“With non-fruit pies like chess pies and custard pies, we like to do a little jiggle test. If you have a four-inch diameter in the center that is still pretty jiggly, you should go ahead and take it out of the oven. The pie will continue to bake when it comes out of the oven, so you don’t want to overbake it.”