Will my pie turn to mush overnight?
September 13, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm cooking my first ever pie for a lunch tomorrow (apple pie from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's dinners" book if that makes a difference). I'm likely to be busy in the morning so can I get away with making it tonight so it just needs heating tomorrow? Or will the pastry go soggy overnight? Second option is to make the pastry and filling tonight, keep separate and assemble tomorrow. Or just get up ridiculously early? Thanks!
posted by hibbersk to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
You shouldn't leave it assembled and uncooked. You can either assemble tomorrow, like you suggested, or bake it tonight and just reheat it tomorrow. 24-hour-diners prove that pie reheats well by-the-slice.

If you want to make the components tonight and assemble it tomorrow, the crust you use may be enhanced or degraded by refrigeration. I would at least roll it out if not put it in your pie pan; if your recipe allows for it I would prebake the crust tonight.

Assembling your filling and letting it sit longer will change its consistency. Couldn't tell you if for the better or worse. I would try it and find out!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:58 AM on September 13, 2008

I'm not familiar with his pie crust recipe, but many (though not all) pie crusts can be made ahead and refrigerated in lumps (not rolled out), wrapped in plastic. The cut up apples will turn an unattractive brown if made ahead, though, unless you add lots of lemon juice (which can affect the final taste if overdone).

Ok, I just googled one of his pie recipes. It's an odd one, in that he wants you to cook the filling twice — once in a pan and a second time in the crust. But that means that you should be able to cook the filling the evening ahead, keep it in the fridge overnight, and finish it in the late morning. (This wouldn't work with a normal fruit pie, where the fruit is cooked only once, in the crust.) And he wants you to keep the dough in the fridge for at least half an hour; longer shouldn't hurt it at all, within reason.

Or you can always serve a pie the day after cooking. The bottom crust can get a bit soggy, but usually this isn't a problem. Serve cold, reheat each piece in the microwave, or warm the whole thing. Pies save really well, so this isn't a problem at all. They only have that "fresh baked" taste when they are indeed fresh baked, but it will still taste better than a store-bought pie.
posted by Forktine at 12:08 PM on September 13, 2008

Oh, there are a lot of depends here. If this is a classic shortcrust pie -- top crust only -- on a plate/dish, then I'd either bake it and reheat or keep the components separate in the fridge. So, apples sliced and tossed with a little lemon juice to retain colour; pastry mixed, tightly wrapped and kept in the coldest part of the fridge, then freezer for ten minutes, so you retain those little pockets of fat. If it's a double-crust, bake and reheat; you could try baking the bottom crust blind, if you're worried about it getting soggy. If you've got a pie funnel, that may also help.

What matters most is adherence to the classic shortcrust recipe -- half fat to flour, half butter to lard/shortening -- because that will give you that crisp top and absorbent interior, and should ward off any sogginess once baked.
posted by holgate at 12:19 PM on September 13, 2008

Pie crust (not rolled out) will do just fine in the fridge overnight. The recipe I usually use calls for at least an hour of refrigeration before rolling it out.

I would recommend either preparing crust and filling, refrigerating separately, then assembling and cooking the next day OR making the whole thing the day before.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:24 PM on September 13, 2008

Following Forktine's link: that sweet shortcrust only uses butter. The pastry's going to be rich, but you're not going to get the light crispness, which makes a difference if you're reheating. I'll throw in Nigel Slater's version of that classic. And Saint Delia on shortcrust, plus her bramble/apple pie recipe.
posted by holgate at 12:29 PM on September 13, 2008

Once you mix up your pie dough (remember not to overmix), put it into a large ziptop bag. Zip it up, removing all the excess air. While it's in the bag, gently form the dough into a disk. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to a couple days. You can even freeze it for use in a few weeks.

As gingerbeer points, out, let it sit at room temp for half an hour or so before you roll it out.

The SCIENCE! behind this:

Pie crusts get tough when the gluten strands start to develop. Gluten develops when water and flour are worked together. When you knead bread, that's what you're doing -- getting gluten strands to form. When you're making bread and you punch down the dough after it's risen, you can see 'threads' of gluten. This means you're on your way to an excellent loaf of bread. Gluten is what gives bread its desired texture (which is not the texture you want in a pie crust).

When you make a pie dough and you cut in the fat (butter, shortening, or lard), you're coating the little grains of flour so that they're more impervious to water, thus helping you with the gluten problem. (Fat 'shortens' the length of the gluten strings that form -- thus the name "shortening.")

Gluten relaxes as it rests. So, though you've tried and tried your best to prevent too much gluten from forming in your pie dough -- you've coated the flour with fat and you haven't overworked the dough -- it's actually a very good idea to let your dough sit for at least 30 minutes before you roll it out. Or more -- again, overnight is just fine. The same is true for other 'short' breads that you want to keep tender, like biscuits.

It's best to keep the dough cold as it rests so that the fat doesn't melt. The reason you want it to come to room temp after you remove it from the fridge? Well, have you ever tried to spread a fridge-cold stick of butter? The fat needs to warm up some for the dough to be easily worked. But! You don't want the butter/shortening/lard/whatever too soft. It should definitely stay cooler than room temperature, or the dough will again be hard to roll and your crust won't be flaky. (There's a reason that you put cold butter into a pie dough, not melted butter.)

Rolling tip: Place the dough between sheets of wax paper and roll it out that way. It won't stick to your rolling pin, and you won't have to add too much extra flour (which can dry out the crust).

I've been making pies since I was 11.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:43 PM on September 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

(Buy refrigerated piecrust.)
posted by konolia at 1:26 PM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you make the pie tonight, it should be fine sitting overnight. And if you try tonight and something happens so that it doesn't turn out, you'll still have tomorrow morning to try again or whatever.
posted by dilettante at 2:19 PM on September 13, 2008

I am a big fan of Cook's Illustrated, and they have a great recipe that includes cold vodka. Yes, vodka. I haven't made it yet, but am contemplating making a quiche tomorrow and may run this up the proverbial flagpole.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:50 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

A baked pie keeps very well. Bake it now.
posted by Foam Pants at 6:45 PM on September 13, 2008

I usually make my pies a day in advance so if there's some sort of disaster I have a day to recover. Pies keep extremely well.

I can't say I'm a fan of the cook twice apple pies, it's more work than it's worth. My trick is to prepare the dry ingredients (cardamon, cinnamon, sugar, flour) in advance in one bowl, and zest my lemon in advance too. Then I just need to peel the apples (rotato!) mix with the dry ingredients and throw it in the pie.

Also, if you're using the Jamie recipe that calls for only three large apples, trust me when I say you need to double that.... the apples piled HIGH as they will go down when their cell walls break down and the moisture excapes.
posted by furtive at 7:37 PM on September 13, 2008

I am a big fan of Cook's Illustrated, and they have a great recipe that includes cold vodka. Yes, vodka.

Haven't tried this yet, but it's a brilliant idea. The theory is that the vodka provides the liquid to work the dough, but alcohol + wheat won't form gluten, so the crust is never tough. The alcohol burns off during the cooking process and -- voila -- tender crust.

Also, if you're using the Jamie recipe that calls for only three large apples, trust me when I say you need to double that....

I use 8 medium-to-large Granny Smiths.

Jamie Oliver is bad at math.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:29 PM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Jamie Oliver is bad at math.

Not in this case: his editors are bad at double-checking their US editions.

A British apple pie recipe pretty much expects demands the Bramley. Bramleys are big apples: half-pound apples. Three of them does equal about eight grocery-store Grannys, and it's one of those times where translating a recipe doesn't just involve metric-imperial conversions.

They're achingly rare in the US, and as this blog post notes, the few you find are weedy by comparison. (In fact, the grower mentioned is fairly near you, mudpuppie.) But since hibbersk is apparently located in the motherland, it should be easy to find those hard, battery-acid sour, softball-sized Bramleys that will cook down into apple-pie bliss. And now I'm homesick. I may have to trek down to World Market, which sells Mr Kipling's mini-pies.
posted by holgate at 1:50 AM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Cook's Illustrated is the recipe I use, and I'll vouch for the vodka version. You should definitely give it a try, mudpuppie!
posted by gingerbeer at 11:28 AM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the clarification, holgate. I'll see them out.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:49 PM on September 14, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, thanks everyone! I never knew that there was so much to baking a humble pie. I went for the night-before method and it turned out quite nice indeed! Holgate is right about bramley apples, they are quite special.
posted by hibbersk at 1:15 AM on September 15, 2008

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