Using The Right Pie Pan:
For optimum baking results, use a glass or dull-metal pie pan. Avoid shiny metal or disposable aluminum pans, which reflect heat and prevent crusts from browning. Dark pans may cause crusts to brown too much.
Avoid pans with holes in the bottom.
To Prevent Over-Browning Of Pie Crust:
To keep baked edges from getting too brown, cover the edges with foil after the first 15 minutes of baking.
Use a 12-inch square piece of foil. Cut out a 7-inch circle from the center, and gently fold the foil "ring" around the crust's edge. Be careful, the pie will be hot!
Tenderizing for Pastry and Pie Doughs:
Add one teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice as part of your liquid for each cup of flour in pastry and pie dough recipes. This won't affect the flavor but will result in more tender baked products.
Rolling Out Pie Dough:
Flour work surface very lightly. Excess flour will toughen pastry dough. Add additional flour sparingly, as needed. Roll out dough from the center to avoid overworking. A straight rolling pin is preferable for beginners. Dough can be easily moved on a rolling pin to flour the work surface or to fit dough into a pie plate. To size the dough, place a pie plate upside down on the rolled-out dough and measure an additional 1 inch around the perimeter of the plate.
BAKING TART SHELL OR PIE CRUST "BLIND"
This is the method of pre-baking your pie or tart crust before adding the filling.
Tip #1: Measure the Ingredients Properly. Measure flour by the spoon-and sweep method. This method is becoming a common low-fat technique and many food magazines, such as Cooking Light, use it. Flour settles, and can compact itself in its bag in the long journey from the mill to the grocer to your home. In order to give your baked goods a nice, light crumb, the flour must be aerated. The best place to start is when the flour is measured. If you measure the flour with the scoop-and sweep method (by dipping the cup into the bag and sweeping the excess flour off the top with a knife), you will be baking with compacted flour, and you could end up with a dense, dry baked good. To measure by the spoon-and sweep method, place the dry measuring cup on a plate or piece of waxed paper (to catch the excess flour). Using a large spoon, stir the flour in the bag or container, and lightly spoon it into the cup until it overflows. Do not pack the flour in the cup. Using a knife (or even you finger), sweep off the excess flour so it is level with the top of the cup.
Tip#2: Don't crowd the oven. The pans should never touch each other or the sides of the oven, or be placed over or under each other on the racks.
Grease pans using a piece of paper towel, rub a small amount of shortening, butter or margarine evenly over the bottom and on sides of pans, if directed. A small amount of pan spray may be used and spread over the pan, also using the paper towel technique.
Prevent sharp edges on muffins, bar cookies or quick breads by greasing the muffin cups or pans only on the bottom and halfway up the sides so the batter is higher than the greaseline. This is one time you might not want to use a pan spray.