Since You Asked: Try tips for a perfect pie

I made my first pumpkin pie, instead of buying it, for Thanksgiving this year. Although I followed the recipe, the crust under the filling was soggy, and water droplets formed on the filling in the refrigerator. I'd like to do better with the Christmas mincemeat pie. What do you suggest?

— MaryAnne T., via email

Blind-baking pie crust before adding filling usually ensures a flaky texture. Or bake the pie in the bottom third of the oven on top of a preheated baking sheet. As for water droplets, don't worry so much about whether they'll appear during refrigeration. Just pat them away with a paper towel before serving the pie.

Here are some more baking tips courtesy of Newsday:

  • Shrunken crust — Roll the dough into a circle, at least 13 inches in diameter. If the edge is skimpy, it will disappear as the pie bakes. When transferring dough to the pan, take care not to stretch it to fit. If you do, it will shrink back in the oven.
  • Soggy bottom — If prebaking a pie shell before adding a wet filling, brush the shell with some beaten egg white as soon as it comes out of the oven and before adding the filling to create a moisture barrier.
  • Disappearing fruit — A lot of recipes instruct you to toss raw apples and sugar together and load them into the pan. This is a mistake because uncooked apples shrink to nothing as they bake and, worse, give off a lot of juices, making the pie watery. Precook apples to ensure a well-filled pie and crisp crust.
  • Lumpy custard — Chances are the filling overbaked, causing the eggs to curdle. Pull the pie from the oven when the center still jiggles a little. If making a cream-cheese pie, allow the cheese to come to room temperature before beating with the sugar for a smooth result.

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