Leftover pie is not the easiest dessert to store. Cakes can be tucked away in a cake carrier and cookies can be stacked in a small storage box or ziploc bag. Pies require a lot of space, either in the freezer or on the countertop, and can be quite messy if they start to lose their shape once you’ve served a slice or two. Now, if you are just planning to eat the leftovers straight out of the pie pan, you have nothing to worry about, but if you want your leftover pie to keep looking as good as the day you served it, you need some storage options.
I’ve used a pie gate to help a pie keep its shape with fairly good results, but the Fox Run Pie Saver looks like it is a much better way to store a whole pie. The saver can hold an 8, 9 or 10-inch pie neatly and keep it covered, with the included lid. This makes the pie easy to transport – no plastic wrap required. The saver also comes with six triangular slice containers so that you can cut up your pie and keep the slices for easy serving later. These are perfect for tucking in a lunch bag and are a good option when you only have a slice or two of pie leftover and don’t want to keep the whole pie plate in your fridge. The saver will work with any type of pie, but messier pies – such as cream pies and fruit pies – are going to get the best results from a nifty storage container like this one.
Pie plates are usually made of one of three materials: metal, ceramic or glass. Metal pie pans range from thin, disposable aluminum pans that might come with a store-bought graham cracker crust to heavy duty steel pans. Glass pie pans, which includes Pyrex brand plates, and ceramic pans are typically thicker and heavier than metal pans. There are so many pie plates to choose from, that many people find themselves wondering which plate is best for baking and which type they should stock their kitchens with.
Metal pans are lightweight, inexpensive and can last just about forever. They can, however, heat unevenly, so pies made with these plates sometimes have portions of crust that are more done than others. If they are made of aluminum, there is a chance that the fruit filling can react with the metal of the pan, giving the pie an off-flavor. Additionally, if you are using a very thin pan, you may have to reinforce the pan with a baking sheet or second pie plate, as it may not be strong enough to support the weight of a baked pie without bending. If you are opting for metal, a good quality steel pan is your best choice.
Pyrex or other glass pie plates retain heat and heat very efficiently, which means that they also distribute heat evenly and your pies will bake evenly in these. Since the pans are clear, it is very easy to visually check the pie crust for doneness – and you can adjust the baking time to give the pie more color. The bottom of the crust will also keep cooking for a few minutes after the pie comes out of the oven, which minimizes the risk of a soggy crust. The downside to a glass pan is that it can break if you drop it, especially if you’re working over a hard floor, it just isn’t worth the risk of all that cleanup to some cooks. Fortunately, these pans are quite durable and inexpensive, so if you are careful with your pans they will last you a very long time.
Ceramic pans are the most expensive type of pan, but are a favorite of many bakers. Ceramic offers the same heat-retention properties as glass, so your pie crusts will bake evenly. These pans also tend to be very pretty, with colorful finishes that make for a great presentation when you serve your pies. The only real downside is that, unlike the glass, you can’t see through the ceramic to check for crust color. Some ceramic pans are very thick and need a few extra minutes in the oven to get warmed up (like a pizza stone), which means that some recipes might have to be adjusted slightly depending on your pan.
In short, all of these pans will work to bake a pie, but as long as you are not worried about breaking your pans, glass and ceramic tend to perform a little bit better than most metal pans. I stick with pyrex and ceramic pans because I like the golden brown crusts that they reliably produce, and would recommend both to anyone looking for a new pie plate. The fact that you can see the crust cooking has always been a plus for me when it comes to pyrex, though I love the look of ceramic pans. If you want another look at pie plates, Cook’s Country has rated pie pans in the past and given top marks to both pyrex and ceramic pans, as well, with pyrex coming out on top thanks to its lower price point.
A chess pie is a classic southern recipe. The basic pie has a simple filling of eggs, sugar, butter and flour or cornmeal, and it is often flavored with a little lemon or vanilla. The origin of the name is a bit muddled, and the most cited story is that “chess” is derived from “cheese” because this pie has a texture similar to cheesecake – minus the cheese. Personally, I don’t buy that story because this pie is really nothing like a cheesecake. It is, however, unique and delicious – and definitely seems like the kind of thing that my grandma would have liked to serve, even though she wasn’t from the South.
This Lemon Chess Pie is a straightforward recipe that stays true to the roots of a classic chess pie. The filling is made with eggs, milk, butter and plenty of sugar. There is a little bit of yellow cornmeal added, which gives the custardy pie a hint of texture. I also added lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for flavor. The filling has a nice, creamy texture to it, but has some substance to it that allows the pie to be sliced and served easily. The sugar forms a nice, crisp crust on the top of the custard while the pie bakes, which is a great color contrast for the finished pie. The lemon flavor is pronounced, but it isn’t as tart as you would find in a lemon meringue pie.
I like to think of chess pie as an all purpose pie. It is easy to make and you really need very few ingredients to put one together. I know that I always have all of the filling ingredients on hand. You can use a homemade pie crust or can opt for a premade pie crust, if you want to save time. I really recommend using fresh lemon for the best flavor in this pie, as that zest puts this pie over the top makes it memorable.
A pie crust shield is a baking tool that covers the outer edge of a pie to keep it from over-browning or burning while the pie bakes. You can make one yourself by gently folding a piece of aluminum foil over the outside edge of a pie plate, but the advantage of the pre-made shield is that you never have to fuss with a hot pie and can simply drop it gently into place. Most shields are made from fairly lightweight steel or aluminum. Some are made from silicone and offer a finish that won’t stick to even messy pies and that is easy to clean. Both types will do the trick to keep your pie edges evenly – not overly – browned.
To use a pie shield, you can either place it on your pie before baking and remove it halfway through the baking time, or you can put it in place partway through the baking time to limit the browning.
I know some bakers who swear by pie shields and others who have never used them. I don’t typically use them much myself, as I find that I only need to cover my pie edges on very rare occasions and aluminum foil works well enough for me in those events. I love it when my pies get some dark color to them, especially along the edges, both because I like my crust to be crispy and because I simply enjoy the look of a pie that really looks like it has been hand-made. That being said, I do find that these are almost a necessity if your oven is older and has a lot of hot spots, because they really will keep the edges of your pie from burning and that is a great feature if your oven is a little unpredictable.
Since we’re celebrating pie season with pie-themed posts all week long, I decided that a pie-related giveaway was in order.I’m giving away a copy of Perfect Pies and a ceramic pie plate to go along with it! The book is packed with great pie ideas, both sweet and savory, so you’ll have plenty of pie inspiration to work with. The recipes cover both classic pies and some more inventive flavors, so there really are pies for just about every occasion in here.
To enter the contest, just leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite kind of pie is. The winner of the contest will be chosen at random, so you will have just as good of a chance to win if you prefer an Apple Crumble Pie, Lemon Cream Cheese Pie, a velvety French Silk Pie or something entirely different! The contest ends Sunday at midnight (11/11/2012) and one winner will be randomly selected from the entries at that time. Don’t forget to fill in your e-mail on the comment form (it will not be made public), as that is how I will contact the winner, and good luck to everyone!
Update: This Contest is now closed. A winner will be announced soon!