Pies are not necessarily unwholesome articles of diet. They may be just good rich unleavened bread and fruit. Perhaps the greatest objection to pies occasionally, is the length of time it takes to make them, for paste that will make a tender crust cannot be rolled out in a hurry. It is better to have something else for dessert when one has not time to make a good pie.
Always use pastry (never bread) flour for thickening cream or lemon pies. If cream pies are not to be used the day they are baked less flour will be required. Lemon pies should be used the day they are baked.
Apple and all fruit pies require a little flour in the filling, for the flavor as well as to absorb the juice. A little salt develops the flavors of fruits. Mix the flour, sugar and salt together and put enough of it over the under crust to cover it well in order to prevent the crust from soaking and to allow the sugar to cook up through the fruit.
Berry pies may have most of the sugar mixture stirred with them before putting into the crust. A little browned flour may sometimes be added to the mixture for apple pies.
Do not peel rhubarb for pies.
To keep the juice from running out, wet strips of pliable cloth 2 or 3 in. wide (bias better) and wrap around the edge of pies where the crusts join, so that half is on the top crust and half under the edge, and press close all around.
Milk or hot or cold water may be used; leave the strips quite wet; remove from pies while hot; they may be used several times.
Another method is to make a small opening in the upper crust and insert a little roll of paper, like a chimney, to allow the steam to escape.
It is a good plan, also, to put the upper crust on to the pie as loose as possible; lift it and make wrinkles in it all around, back from the edge of the pie, before pressing the two crusts together; this will keep the steam and juice in the pie instead of forcing them out.
One way to make the edges stay together is to wet the edge of the lower crust and sprinkle flour over it (shaking off what does not adhere) just before rilling and putting on the upper crust.
If with all your care the juice begins to run out, either at the edge or through the openings in the crust, remove the pie at once from the oven and let it stand on the hearth or table until it stops boiling. (If necessary, put a little dry flour in the space). Return to the oven and by slow cooking it may not run out again ; if it does, take it out again, but do not leave it out until the fruit is perfectly cooked. It would be too bad to waste all the labor of making a pie by serving it underdone.
Make pies without under crust when preferred. Put a strip of paste around the edge of a shallow pudding dish or deep pie pan, fill dish with prepared fruit, sugar and flour, cover with a lid of paste, press on to the strip and bake.
Fillings of squash, pumpkin or sweet potato pies may be baked on pie pans, in custard cups or in pudding dishes, without a crust, and with or without a meringue.
Serve fruit pies the day they are baked. Those that are unavoidably left over, put into the oven and just heat through before serving, to make like fresh pies.
Apple pies may be put together at night, kept in the ice box and baked the next morning.
For custard or other deep pies, cut the crust with the shears about 1/2 inch larger than the pan, moisten the underside of the edge slightly and pinch it up with floured thumb and finger so that it will stand up above the edge of the pan. The crust may be pinched up before trimming and cut around the edge of the pan with a knife. It is a good plan to set the prepared crust in the ice box long enough to become firm before filling.
Crust may be put on to several pans when making pies one day and baked when desired.
Several crusts can be baked at a time, then just heated before using.
To bake before filling without blistering, put pastry on to one pan, set another of the same size into it and bake between the two.
Fill pastry-lined patty pans with raw rice, cover with an upper crust and bake when baked patty cases are desired. The rice will not be injured and the crusts will keep their shape.
Sometimes with two-crust pies, sprinkle sugar over the top of the crust when done and leave in the oven for two minutes.
Lattice work of strips of crust put on in diamonds or squares makes an attractive finish for such lemon and orange pies as will hold the strips up, as well as for cranberry and mince pies.
Beat whites of eggs for meringue with woven wire spoon or silver fork until stiff; add 1/2 - 1 tablespn. of sugar to each white and beat till very stiff, add flavoring, pile in rocky form on to hot pie, bringing meringue well out over the crust; brown delicately on top grate of moderate oven. As soon as the tips are tinted the meringue is done. Overbaking makes it tough and causes it to draw away from the edges. Having the pie hot when the meringue is put on helps to cook it more evenly and keeps it from becoming watery next to the pie.
When but one white is to be used for a meringue, do not beat it quite so stiff and use a little more sugar so that it will spread over the top of the pie well.
Tiny dots of beaten jelly may be placed with a pastry tube in the depressions of the meringue of lemon pies, after baking.
In cutting pies with a meringue, cut just through the meringue first with a thin bladed knife dipped in cold water; afterwards cut to the bottom.
Pies should always be left so that a current of air will pass under them while cooling to keep the crust from soaking.