Lessons in Pie

Earlier this week, Lindsey from The Morningstar Project invited me to join in on a pie-baking challenge, and of course I accepted. Since I’ve never made a pie with the traditional buttery crust (I usually opt for graham cracker crusts and the like) with a lattice top, I decided to go with this Pears & Vanilla Brown Butter Pie.


The only changes I made were using apples instead of pears (hey, I use what I have!) and omitting the raisins. Mostly because I’m not crazy about dried fruit in desserts like pies.

The pie was beautiful with a lightly browned crust, and was delicious to boot. Especially when paired with some French vanilla ice cream.


A few things I learned and tips I picked up:

1. A food processor works wonders when it comes to making the crust. If you have one, use it. It is much faster and easier than trying to cut in the butter by hand.

2. Don’t forget to brush the top crust with milk and sugar. But if you do, the pie will still be pretty and taste good. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. I’d never forget a step in a recipe…

3. Do not use a mini spatula that is not made to handle high heat when making the vanilla butter. It will melt. You will have to start over.

4. Making the lattice isn’t difficult if you don’t weave it. It will still be pretty if you just criss-cross the strips without weaving them. Oh, and a pizza cutter works to cut out the lattice strips if you don’t have a pastry cutter.

5. A piece of wax paper between the rolling pin and crust dough makes it a lot easier to roll out the crust. It won’t stick to the rolling pin!

6. If the edges of your crust are browning to fast, cover just the edges in aluminum foil. This is harder to do than it sounds, and I still haven’t figured out the perfect technique. You’ve been warned.

7. Make sure there is enough crust all the way around the edges so that the filling doesn’t bubble out and spread on the bottom of the oven. That is going to be a fun cleaning project this afternoon, I can tell.

One thing I don’t know? Why my gorgeous pie looked like this when I cut into it:


The filling seems so runny and the bottom crust seems to flimsy to hold it all in! Any suggestions on how to fix it?

For other pies made in this challenge check out these posts:

What will you be serving for dessert next Thursday?

I can’t decide between the pie I made yesterday or Lindsay’s caramel pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust

Also, I’ve announced the winner of the cookie giveaway. Check out the original post to see if it is you!


  1. says

    That looks beautiful! And I hadn’t even noticed that you didn’t weave the strips on top until you mentioned it. That’s a brilliant potential time-saver.

    For Thanksgiving dessert, I am making a chocolate layer cake with cookie-dough frosting (recipe invention weekend a-hoy!). Still undecided on ganache vs. chocolate shavings for garnish.

  2. Kim says

    When working with fruit pies sometimes they get a wee bit runny. (As you have found out πŸ™‚ ) The only way I have been able to correct it is adding more flour to the mix. It will soak up the extra juices from the fruit. Also, there are thickening mixes you can get to add to the pie in order to prevent runny pies (King Arthur has a great one).

  3. says

    I recently tackled apple pie – I made 4 different versions. The one that held up the best when I cut into it did not have flour in it. I know it seems counter intuitive, but after 3 pies sunk into mush and 1 didn’t, flour was the only variable that seemed to be the issue!

  4. says

    pie…this is a topic i can really get into! *stretches arms, cracks knuckles* =)

    1. though lots of people laud the “it’s SO much easier!” benefits of crust via food processor, i find that the best texture is only achievable by hand. if not cutting the fat (i freeze butter and then grate it in with a cheese grater) and mixing by hand, especially when adding the cold water, it’s pretty easy to miss that point of perfect pastry. too much working the dough and especially too much water are bad things for pie crust.

    4. woven lattices are actually fairly easy; the trick is to start from the middle, rather than the edge.

    6. if you don’t have a pie crust saver (like the katie before me mentioned), putting foil on the edge of your pie *before* you bake it is a good trick. i crimp the edges together so i have a long narrow strip, wrap it around and smoosh it down. it’s really easy to just pull off, then, at the halfway mark, when you’re usually rotating the pie 180 degrees for even baking anyway. i really like my crust savers, too.

    7. even if your crust is all the way around, bubble-overs happen. (especially if you have an older place, where the floors — and thus the oven — aren’t perfectly level.) a sheet of foil on the bottom of the oven makes cleaning up really easy. =)

    also, as kim and katie have mentioned, the trick for a less-runny fruit pie is extra thickener. i find that flour (which your recipe uses) generally doesn’t work as well as corn starch, unflavored gelatin or tapioca. (tapioca is *especially* good with spiced pear pies! yum…)

    i’m not sure yet what to serve for thanksgiving dessert. pumpkin pie is classic, but we also tried a quince-rosemary-rum-pine nuts dessert recently that was very very delicious — the quince tasted very similar to apple, but more woodsy and flavorful — and would translate really well to a pie.

  5. says

    Your pie looks great. I’m also not a fan of raisins in pie. Or, really, and dessert for that matter. I’m sure I’ll be having apple pie. I’m doing the visiting, not baking, but somehow there’s always apple.

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      Thank you! PS: I think you really want to click over to see who won the cookie giveaway….ahem.

  6. says

    This looks sooooo delicious, the lattice top makes it look so professional! I think apple pie is my favorite of all time, especially with vanilla ice cream on top. I’m loving all these pie tips!

  7. says

    beautiful pie! i love making pies because it feels like such an accomplishment.

    i like to toss tapioca flour in with fruit pie fillings that might get a little watery. weaving really isn’t hard! check out the bella eats post on pie: http://bellaeats.com/2009/10/08/easy-as-pie/ i so want to get one of those zigzaggy rollers – how pretty are the lattice strips?