There may just be no better dessert in the world than a freshly baked pie, or at least not in my opinion.
Care for the crust
By mass, the crust is a very small portion of the pie, but it takes up a pretty large wedge in the pie chart of my heart. A good crust is flaky, crisp, and complementary to the filling, and it must be protected at all costs.
First, you have to beat it. Manually softening the chilled dough with blunt force trauma renders it pliable and soft while keeping it chilled, meaning it’s less likely to stick to the counter and more likely to bake up nice and flaky.
Then there is blind baking — i.e., baking the crust before adding your fruit or custard — and how long you do that depends on your filling. The longer the filling needs to be in the oven, the less blind baking it will need.
To keep the parchment in place during this step, skip the fancy pie weights and weigh it down with sugar — those tiny granules fill every crevice, which means no puffy spots.
It would be a pity go through all that trouble, only to have your crust sog out in transit (or sitting on the counter). Prevent this tragedy through the hygroscopic power of Epsom salts, which are a very cheap, very effective desiccant.
Fill it up, buttercup
If I could offer you one piece of advice on filling pies with delicious, creamy custard bases, it would be to read A.A. Newton’s extremely helpful guide on the matter, which tells you how to fill, when to fill, and how to make things a bit easier with the ol’ science oven.
Baked custards are everywhere on the holiday dessert table. Apart from apple pie, just about every other holiday classic calls for baking a sugar-and-egg slurry until perfectly set. It seems simple enough, but custard pies are notoriously tricky — especially when canned pumpkin gets involved.
If I could give you more advice—and it turns out I can — I would tell you add miso to almost every pie (particularly the autumnal bunch), make your own golden syrup, and draw inspiration from your favourite cocktail.