Pie Book Photography and Tips to Baking the Perfect Pie
Yesterday the cookbook that I styled and photographed, Me, Myself, and Pie by Sherry Gore hit bookshelves. I couldn't be more excited for the book to finally be out! After cooking, styling, photographing (and there was some eating in there too) over 100 pies in 6 weeks, I'm really proud of what myself, Sherry and Zondervan Publishing put together. Sherry's writing is light and humorous and I have to say, the book is really beautiful (not to brag)!
Tomorrow I'm hosting a "How to Trow a Pie Party" workshop at Tin Cottage (the event is SOLD OUT) which combines my love of entertaining, my pie baking knowledge (I'm worried I'm quickly becoming known as the "pie lady") and the launch of the new book.
To celebrate, I thought I'd bring you some of my favorite images from the book, a handful of behind the scenes shots, and some pie baking tips.
Pies took over our lives for a good six weeks while shooting this book. Sunday evenings were spent shopping for ingredients, Mondays were for baking (about 9 pies a day), Tuesdays shooting, Wednesdays baking (9 more), Thursdays shooting. Fridays were spent shopping for props, editing images, planning next week's attack and well, sleeping.
Jacobs' office enjoyed what was quickly coined as "Pie Fridays" where everything left over got packed up and sent to work with him for his co-workers to devour. I think by the 5th week, they felt a little like me ... overdosed on pie.
I learned so much through the whole experience and while it was A LOT of work, it was really a lot of fun. I did everything out of my house, baking in my kitchen and photographing in my studio upstairs. My publisher, Rebecca would come on shoot days and watch as images popped up on the screen. I got into a routine of laying out all the props needed for each shot the night before, using huge sheet trays to carry each pie and garnishes up and down the stairs before and after each shot, and packing each pie up in disposable to-go containers to send home with Rebecca or hold on to for "Pie Friday." My kitchen became a revolving door of visitors, my mom and girlfriends always stopping by to see what was in the oven. It was a well organized pie factory, each pie scheduled to a day of baking and shooting. There were some disasters, lots of tastings and a ridiculous amount of dirty dishes ... oh the dirty dishes.
I even ended up baking 250 blackberry pie pops once it was all said and done for the book's sales conference. Then I swore off pie for a good 4 months.
I hope that you buy the book and truly enjoy the pages full of fruit pies, cream pies, chocolate pies, whoopie pies and pies in a jar. Here are some of my TOP PIE BAKING TIPS I learned along the way. Hopefully they'll help you in your pie-making endeavors.
TOP PIE BAKING TIPS 1. Dough
The key to the perfect pie crust is keeping everything COLD! When making the dough, put all the ingredients (including the dry ingredients) in the freezer for 30 minutes. You don’t want anything frozen—just well chilled. I like using the food processor method for making pie crusts because the dough is handled less, it keeps the ingredients more chilled.
Make the dough the day before and let it rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator before rolling it out. Roll out dough from the center on a lightly floured work surface to avoid overworking.
Freeze the dough in its pie plate before baking. Frozen dough is less likely to shrink and slump. Some pie recipes (like cream pies) call to “blind bake” the crust. Line the pastry with parchment or waxed paper and fill with baking beans or pie weights.
If you spray the pie pan lightly with nonstick vegetable shortening before lining it with the pastry, or if you grease and flour it, it is usually possible to slide out and whole pie after it has cooled completely. This makes cutting it easier and is better for both the knife and the pie plate!
Bake plain crusts or filled pies in a hot oven to set the crust's structure. Most recipes call for a high initial temperature and then a reduced oven temperature for the rest of the baking time. Use vented aluminum foil or "pie shields" to protect the crust from over browning.
Always allow your filling to cool to room temperature before pouring it into the unbaked pie crust. Warm filling in an unbaked pie shell will simply melt the pie dough before it can bake.
If your pie filling is “runny,” it is most likely because it has not baked long enough. Simply try baking 5 to 10 minutes longer than normal.
Allow the pie to cool on a rack to room temperature, or until barely warm, before slicing to ensure that the filling is set and will not run. This will take between 2 to 4 hours, depending on the thickness of the pie.
The first slice of pie is always the hardest to get out of the pan. Always. It crumbles and smooshes and collapses on the plate. Cut just the tiniest sliver of pie as your "first sacrificial slice" and then cut the rest of the pie into normal-sized wedges.