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Choosing The Right Pie Dish

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Do you ever feel confused when it comes to trying to figure out what kind of pie dish you should use for your favorite pie….and what about the size?  No wonder, because today there are so many more types and sizes of pie dishes than there were fifty years ago.   Let’s take a quick look at the three most popular types of pie dishes that are used today and their pros and cons.

doublepiecrust101 - 1 (3) First we have the ceramic pie dish….

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Second we have the glass pie dish…

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and third we have the metal pie dish…

Okay let’s talk about each one…

Ceramic

Pros:  Ceramic pie dishes come in many colors and can be very attractive when you are serving a pie.  Ceramic, like glass, heats up slowly but evenly, producing a very nicely browned and crispy, (not soggy) crust.  It is an excellent choice for fruit and custard type pies.

Cons:  Most ceramic pie dishes have a decorative fluted edge, and in a lot of cases are bigger than your normal size pie dish, therefore requiring both additional pie dough and filling than your recipe calls for.  Ceramic doesn’t allow radiant heat to pass through, and you can’t see or check the bottom crust when it is baking.  Ceramic, like glass, is slippery, and not the best candidate for “par or blind” baking.  The two pictures below illustrate what happens to a “par or blind” baked pie shell that is baked in a ceramic pie dish.

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Not too pretty, huh…shrunken and you might say slightly deformed…

Glass

Pros:  Glass heats up slowly but it also heats up evenly, and it allows radiant heat to pass through the glass. This results in a nicely browned and crispy (not soggy) pie crust.  You can view the bottom and sides of the crust to see how brown the crust is getting.  Glass pie dishes are an excellent choice for fruit and custard type pies.

Cons:  Glass is a poor conductor of heat, (it heats up slowly).  Glass does not work well for “par or blind” baking an empty pie shell, because it is slippery.  This causes the pie crust to shrink, even when you use pie weights or fold the dough over the edge of the pan.  The result will be a crust that looks like the two pictured above.

Note:  It takes a while for a glass pie dish to heat up to the oven temperature, but once it does, it bakes very quickly and evenly.  Therefore, when using a glass pie dish, most recipes will stipulate that the temperature needs to be decreased by 25 degrees.  If you do not decrease the temperature, the crust will get too brown before the filling gets done.

Metal

Pros:  Metal is an excellent conductor of heat.   It heats up quickly and cools down quickly.  Metal is an excellent choice when you are “par or blind” baking an empty pie shell because it is not slippery and will not cause shrinkage to an empty pie shell.

Cons:  Some metal pie plates are coated, therefore making them easy to scratch.  Dark metal pie pans absorb heat so quickly, that it sometimes causes a crust to get over brown before the filling gets done.

Ceramic, metal and glass pie dishes all work well, depending on the type of pie you are making.  I’ve been making pie crusts for many years and I generally keep going back to my Pyrex glass pie dishes for almost all of my pies…the exception being when I “par or blind” bake an empty pie shell.  I have collected several ceramic pie dishes over the years, but I have found that they vary so much in size, that I frequently find myself running short on pie dough and not having enough filling.  It’s so tempting to buy a ceramic pie dish because of its attractive design or look, but be careful or you’ll end up with a pretty collection of pie dishes that you don’t use.  I mainly use my ceramic pie dishes for a couple of my pie recipes that make a very large filling such as an apple pie…

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Pie Dish Size

I don’t know about you, but I find it so frustrating when the author of a recipe says to use a 9″ pie dish.  What size pie dish… I ask?  Shallow or deep dish?  This matters greatly…If the filling is a pumpkin pie filling that should be in a “deep dish” pie dish, and you pour it into a “shallow” pie dish, you’re going to have way….too much filling. …

pie dishes - 6 (1) My pumpkin pie filling makes a large 9″ deep dish pie.

 I promise that any of the pie recipes you see on this site will specify whether you should use a “deep dish” or “shallow”  pie dish.  On the flip side…if you use a “deep dish” pie dish and you only have enough filling for a “shallow” pie crust, well…you’re going to have a very meager looking pie.

There are various sizes of pie dishes these days.  If you want to stay on the safe side when purchasing a pie dish, you might consider the basic Pyrex glass pie dish.  It comes in two sizes, “deep dish”, 9 1/2″ x 1 1/2″, and “shallow”, 9 1/2″ x 1 1/4″.  Some pie dishes, especially the ceramic ones, range up to 10″.  I personally don’t care for this size, because most pie filling recipes are developed to fit a 9″ pie dish.

Pie Shields

Okay, we’ll talk about pie shields for a minute.  I might possibly be the only person in the world who doesn’t care for pie shields and I’ll explain why…

doublepiecrust101 - 2 (1)Pie shields, and trust me I’ve had a lot of them, are designed to fit any pie dish….right!!!  You don’t want to know how many times I have covered a beautiful pie crust edge with a pie shield, to later remove it and see that one side of my pie crust was fine but the other side was over browned.  Frisbee time…..

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Do you see how the pie shield above does not fit perfectly over the pie dish, even though the pie shield has cut outs that are supposed to fit over the small glass handles on the pie dish….

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For years I’ve placed foil around the edges of my pie crust, just to have it fall off by the time I got the pie into the oven.  Let me stop and give you a little tip here….use regular thin flexible foil, not heavy-duty if you’re doing this.

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Another option…place the foil around the edges first, then gently lay the pie shield over the foil.  The foil protects the crust edges and the pie shield finally serves a good purpose….holding the foil in place.  Ta Da!!  I really didn’t want to use it as a frisbee….

Update:  See my latest technique on covering the edge of your pie crust.  It works perfect!

Tear strips of thin foil, not heavy duty, that is at least two inches wide.  Staple the ends of each piece together and secure it around the edge of crust.  Gently fold the foil inwards.  This method works perfect for me and doesn’t fall off or mess up my fluted edges.

For information on how to make a pie crust, please see my post on Pie Crust 101 and my recipe for Aunt Elsie’s Flaky Pie Crust.

Happy Pie Baking!!

Cindy

 

 

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