1. Don’t overwork the dough! You should see big pieces of butter still in the dough after blending it.
2. Work with cold ingredients. As a beginner you can freeze the butter to give you more time to work with the dough. Melted butter equals tough crust.
3. The basic components of good crust are low gluten flour (I only use White Lily), acid to inhibit gluten, chunks of fat for flakiness, sugar for browning, and eggs for workability.
4. This is personal for each pie baker, but my preferred fat is butter all the way.
5. Keep the moisture low—only add as much water as you absolutely need to in order to be able to work with the dough and not have it fall apart. Wet dough equals tough crust.
6. When rolling out the dough, turn, flip, and rotate constantly to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. Work quickly and roll from the center outward, never from one end to the other.
7. Fruit fillings: Don’t add too much sugar. It will mask the fruit.
8. Whether you use cornstarch, tapioca, or flour, make sure the filling boils in the oven or else you will end up with fruit soup.
9. Cream fillings: Cook over low heat for a long time to bring to a boil slowly. Don’t let it boil for more than a minute or you will end up with rubber. Scrape the bottom of the pot constantly.
10. Custard fillings: Bake only until center is wobbly. Pie will continue to bake itself through to the center as it cools.
>> LEARN MORE: Read Christiane Lauterbach’s article on Buckhead’s Pie Shop