Cut Your Prep Time In Half with Our Test Kitchen Tips for Make-Ahead Pie Crust
In a perfect pie, the crust is just as important as the filling. Making pie crust ahead of time will allow you to get your pastry in the oven quicker. The classic pastry dough can be stored in the fridge or freezer for quick and convenient use in your favorite sweet and savory recipes requiring that flaky crust.
There's nothing quite like a slice of old-fashioned apple pie to finish off a comforting meal. And while making up that pastry dough doesn't take a lot of ingredients, the time can add up when you're making a lot of pumpkin pies for your Thanksgiving feast. To get a jump start on your next pastry project, you can prepare your favorite pastry dough in advance and keep it refrigerated or even freeze it for when it's time for filling. Here are some of the best ways our Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen makes sure that flaky, buttery pastry will be good to go for all your favorite pie recipes ahead of time.
Make-Ahead Pie Crust
Prepare your favorite recipe (try our recipes for single-crust pastry or gluten-free pie crust) as directed, but don't roll it out. Instead, flatten the pastry into a patty or form it into a ball, then wrap it in plastic wrap, label it, and seal. You can keep your pie dough in the fridge for up to 3 days. Be sure to allow the pastry to come to room temperature before rolling out for pie. Not ready to use your pie crust in the upcoming days? Place it in a freezer bag like these reusable ones ($12, Target) and freeze for up to 3 months. When you're in the mood for strawberry-rhubarb pie, thaw the pastry overnight in the refrigerator before filling.
Making Pie Crust Ahead of Time in the Pan
Want to store a pie crust that has already been fitted to a pie plate ($6, Bed Bath & Beyond) or tart pan? Roll out the pie crust, and fit it to a freezer- and oven-safe pie plate or tart pan. Place the pastry and container in a freezer bag and freeze as directed. It's important to note some glass baking dishes such as Pyrex can shatter if moved from one extreme temperature to the other. In order to bake frozen pastry shells without thawing fully, let your frozen shell rest at room temp while your oven preheats. You may also need to add 5 or 10 minutes to the baking time.
Blind Baking Pastry Shells Before Storing
Blind baking, which simply means baking a pastry shell before it is filled, creates a stronger crust that can better hold moist filling, such as egg mixture in quiche. Prepare and roll out the pastry dough. Generously prick the bottom and sides of the pastry in a pie plate with a fork. Line pastry with pie weights ($14, Williams Sonoma) or a double layer of heavy foil. This helps to weigh down the crust and prevent it from bubbling up or blistering. Bake in a 450°F oven for 8 minutes. Remove weights or foil. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes more or until golden. Cool on a wire rack ($9, Target). To store the baked pie crust, cool the pastry shell. Wrap it in foil and place in a freezer container or bag. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.