I spent all of last weekend making pies—literally the entire weekend. My former employer was super sweet and ordered 20 apple pies to give away as client thank you gifts and I had a couple other pies I needed to bake, so I sent my husband out fishing for two days and got down to business.
Besides wedding cupcakes, I have never had to bake bulk amounts of desserts in a short amount of time. Needless to say, this was definitely a learning experience for me. I am quick to agree to baking inquiries and often don’t always think out the logistics before agreeing to big projects like these.
If you ever find yourself needing to bake a large quantity of pies, or you’re simply in charge of all the desserts at your family holiday gathering, here are a few pie tips I learned this past weekend:
1. Yes, you can prepare your ingredients and freeze ahead of time
I had to do a bit of research on the front end, because I wasn’t sure what apple pie ingredients would freeze well, if you should freeze before or after baking the pie, etc. In the end, I found the best method that worked for me was to make all my crust dough first and freeze in individual balls. I then mixed my caramel apple filling and froze that in individual gallon-sized freezer bags. Both of these can be prepared and frozen weeks in advance.
Twenty-four hours before I planned to do all the baking, I moved all the crusts and filling bags into the fridge to thaw out. On the actual baking day, I rolled all my crusts out, poured in a bag of filling and then baked the pie.
2. Let a peeler do all the hard work
Honestly, my life was changed when I realized how well an apple peeler works. This tip is probably common sense to most of you, and I’m ashamed to admit I have never used one of these before. I guess I just assumed they didn’t work, but when I realized I was going to need to peel nearly 150 apples in record time, I knew I was going to need to call in reinforcements. I bought a cheap, plastic apple peeler and corer set from Walmart for only $11 figuring it would be such low quality it wouldn’t work anyways. But boy, let me tell you, this thing peeled 20 apples in 5 minutes for me! Now that I know what I’ve been missing out on, I’m definitely going to invest in a higher-quality, metal version of the apple peeler.
3. Struggling to roll your dough out? Add water.
I realized this weekend that I haven’t been adding enough water to my pie crust dough. Every time I tried to roll it out, it was breaking and crumbling. I started adding a couple tablespoons of water to my chilled dough, re-kneading it and then rolling it out with plenty of flour on my hands and surface. This made it super easy to roll out and form into the pan. I then just popped my crusts back into the freezer to chill again before filling and baking.
4. Add an extra inch and tuck it under
To prep my pie crust for the tin, I roll it out as close to a circle as I can, then flip my pie tin upside down on top as a “stencil.” I use a sharp knife to cut a circle an inch or two farther out then the actual pie tin, and I then flip my pie tin back over and slide the circle of dough into it evenly. After pressing down the dough into the tin, I roll the excess 1-2″ of dough under itself and then crimp with my fingers.
5. Opt for a crumble topping
Rolling out the pie crusts and preparing them on the pie tin take up a large chunk of my pie-baking time. I opted for just a base pie crust and a yummy brown sugar crumble topping. It’s yummier than crust, looks just as beautiful, and takes much less time to prepare then the top crust.
6. Give yourself plenty of prep space
If you’re like me and you’re just a humble home-baker, you probably are working with one oven and some average counter space when you bake. Once again, I knew I was going to need to call in reinforcements when it came to prep space. I wasn’t able to convince my husband to buy a second oven this time around, so I didn’t get any help there. I did, however, set up a long plastic table in my kitchen and ended up spreading out all my different supplies and ingredients across it. It was extremely helpful to have this extra prep space to work with throughout the weekend.
I also basically pushed my husband out the door and told him to fish with his buddies all weekend just so I knew I would have no distractions in “my kitchen.”
Every time I bake pies, I get better and more efficient at the process. I’m still learning a lot about this tasty dessert, and baking 22 in one weekend was a good experience! Oh and for those wondering, I did end up receiving some feedback on my pies, and the reviews have been good so far! 🙂