Pie Tools for a Perfect Pie

One of my favorite lines from a musical, The Sound of Music, is 'These are a few of my favorite things'. The children are all scared by a loud thunder storm and pile into Maria's room for her mothering comfort. They all brainstorm about things that make them happy like Apple Strudel, whiskers on kittens, etc.

I have compiled below a list of my favorite things, related to making pies! I hope you will read on and discover a new pie making tool that makes your pies a little more predictable when putting them together for your loved ones. Feel free to 'whistle a happy tune' while reading...

I guess it would be good to start out with my favorite pie pans. I have tried all sorts and keep coming back to the same ones for a consistently cooked bottom crust (nothing worse than a mushy, uncooked bottom crust!)

Pie pans made out of ceramic are the clear winners for me. My favorite pan and the one I reach for most often is made in Burgundy, France. An Emile Henry 9-inch, ceramic, deep-dish pan is a superior and old stand by for many pie bakers. Keep in mind that all recipes will not have enough filling for a deep-dish pie, since they are deceivingly larger. Especially, when regarding a fruit pie recipe, you will need 6 cups of fruit to properly fill a deep-dish. If you try to use it for a 4 cup fruit recipe, the outside crust edge will be too tall and your presentation on the plate will suffer as the back crust topples over from the weight of being too heavy & tall.

The red dish above is the Emile Henry deep-dish, purchased at Williams Sonoma. The patterned dish is a regular sized 9-inch ceramic dish with adorable decorations purchased in the home section at TJ Maxx. The pie server is one I purchased from a flea market in the mountain town of Dillard, GA. With the sharp edge serving as the cutter, you do not need a separate knife to slice the pie.

Find following a couple of photo examples of slices of pie, so you can compare a deep-dish with a regular 9-inch dish. For future reference, I like a deep-dish pan for a 6 cup fruit pie recipe, a pie with a meringue or a whipped cream topping, and a crumble top. Additionally, if you don't want to leak all over the oven, a quiche is safest in a deep-dish pan, as well.

Lemon Meringue Pie baked in a deep-dish pie pan

A regular 9-inch pie dish is perfect for those Thanksgiving favorites, Pecan pie, Pumpkin Pie and any fruit pie that lists 4 cups of fruit in the recipe. See below...

Pecan Pie baked in a regular 9-inch ceramic pie dish

A funny story about my favorite rolling pin is that we go Wayyyy back! When I took a wood workshop at Kansas State in the mid-80's, I really got into working on the lathe. We had a dizzying array of wood varietals stored in a shed attached to the wood working class. I picked out about 5 different species of wood and made all of them into candlesticks. During that process I found out that I was super allergic to a wood imported from Africa called Bubinga. I loved the purplish color (being a good K-stater), but my allergies could not handle that one. I chose a more domestic wood species, Hickory, for my next project, which was a rolling pin. I loved the idea of making practical items that I could use the rest of my life.

I didn't have lots of time to work on making pies during my studies in the Architectural School at KSU, but I loved the idea of baking lots of them after I graduated. In high school, I was baking for our family all the time!

After shaping the hickory wood on the lathe into the rolling pin, it was sanded to death and then treated with a tung oil. Since hickory wood has very large open grains, I wanted to make sure the wood patterns didn't show up when rolling out a pastry. And, it was a success.

Here is a picture of my hand-made rolling pin created in wood shop class at Kansas State University around 1986. This rolling pin has been used on countless pie crusts and zillions of sugar cookies since then! I always hand wash the rolling pin and it has stayed in perfect condition for 30 years!

Other bakers prefer marble rolling pins. Marble stays cool, which is perfect for pastry and it has a little more weight to it, so rolling becomes effortless. I do feel like you can accidentally roll the pastry out too thin with a marble pin. My old standby wood pin has a lot more control on the thickness of the pastry or cookie dough.

Speaking of marble, I received a marble slab from Williams Sonoma a couple of years back for a Christmas present and it has really improved the rolling experience.

I highly recommend this pie tool for beautiful pastry, especially if you are going to do cut-outs, braid the pastry or do anything else special to your top pie crust. See below for a pie crust rolled out on the marble slab.