Making a Thanksgiving feast is stressful enough. With kitchen time at a premium, it’s helpful to prepare things ahead when possible. Making dough in advance and refrigerating or freezing pie crust is an easy way to make preparing dessert on the big day a snap.
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Here are some different approaches to making pie pastry in advance which will suit a number of different recipes.
How to make pie crust in advance
Step 1: Make the dough.
Regardless of which method you follow below, you’ll need to start by making the dough. You can follow our easy basic pie dough recipe, which yields two rounds of dough, or use your favorite pie dough recipe.
Step 2: Evaluate when you are going to bake.
Do you know when you’ll be baking the pie in question? This will be a defining factor in how you store your dough. From here, follow these instructions.
If you’ll be baking in the next 2-3 days…
If you’re going to be baking your pie in the next few days, then simply flatten the pie dough into discs, wrap each in plastic and put them in the fridge. You’re done. The pie dough will be ready to roll (pun intended) when you are!
If you need to store your dough longer…
If you’re not going to be baking in the next 2-3 days, or if you’re not sure when you’ll be baking your pie, move on to the next step, you’ll want to freeze your dough.
Freezing your pie dough
To freeze your pie dough, there are actually several different ways you can approach it. Here are three easy ones:
Method 1: Freeze your dough in discs
Prepare your pie dough, press it into discs and wrap in plastic. From here, simply put the dough in the freezer. The day before you want to bake your pie, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with rolling and shaping the dough as usual.
Method 2: Freeze the dough in a pie plate
Prepare your pie dough, roll it out, press it into the pie plate and crimp the edges. Basically, get the pie dough to the point where it’s ready to bake — but instead of baking it, cover it in plastic and put it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to bake, you can actually put your fillings right in the shell (no thawing necessary!) and bake your pie. It may require a few extra minutes to bake beyond what the recipe calls for, but usually it’s not a huge time difference.
If using this method, it’s important to use a pie plate that’s appropriate moving from freezer to oven. In general, budget pans (like those flimsy aluminum pie tins) have a risk of exploding in the oven if transferred right from the freezer. Choose a high-quality ceramic or glass pan — Emile Henry pans are a great option.
Method 3: Blind-bake the dough before freezing
If you know that you are going to be making a pie that requires par-baking or fully baking the crust before filling it, then you can partially or fully bake the crust in advance (this is called “blind baking”). This is particularly handy for pies with cooked fillings that are poured into a finished shell, such as chocolate cream pie.
Here’s how: Roll the dough, press it into your pan, prick the bottom of the crust and bake according to your recipe’s suggested time. (Note: Some recipes suggest using pie weights to help prevent the bottom of the crust from rising too much). Then, let the crust cool completely, wrap in plastic and store in the freezer. Let the crust thaw overnight before filling for best results — fillings poured in a still-frozen pre-baked crust can turn a little gummy.
Note: In some cases, it can also make sense to employ a combination of the methods listed above. For instance, say you are making a pie with a double crust or a lattice top. In this case, you might press the bottom crust into a pie plate and freeze it, but also freeze a portion of dough patted into a disc. In this case, since you’d need to thaw the unrolled portion of pie dough before pressing it on top of the pie, it’s a good idea to let the bottom crust thaw too, so that the pie can bake evenly.
Want to work on perfecting your pie crust before making it in advance? Craftsy course Perfecting the Pie Crust will teach you everything you need to know about making perfectly flaky, luscious pie pastry!
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