Do-Ahead Holiday Baking: 3 Ways to Make Pies and Pie Dough in Advance
Pies are the component of the holiday meal that I look forward to the most. They're something we don't generally indulge in on average weeknights (or weekends, for that matter) and they seem like such a celebratory dessert, such a happy dessert. So why not make life a little easier this year by doing your pies in advance so you don't have to think about them on Thanksgiving morning? Here are three ways to get your pies done now so you can enjoy them later!
1. Freeze the Dough: The thing that not everyone knows about pie dough is that, while it gets a bad reputation for being difficult and fussy, you can actually make your dough up to 3 days ahead, wrap well and refrigerate. Or you can do it weeks (or months) in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 3 months. When you're ready to use it, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. That's it!
2. Freeze the Unbaked Pie Shells: If I'm doing a single-crust pie like a custard, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, I'll often freeze the pre-formed shells in advance. In short, this is taking option #1 one step further. So instead of freezing the discs of dough, you'll actually roll them out, lay them into your pie tin, crimp the edges, loosely cover with plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. When you're ready to make your pie, you want to have your filling all ready to go, take your shell from the freezer and fill it, and pop it in the oven right away. No thawing necessary. When going this route, I'll usually use a tin pie pan because fellow bakers have made me scared that Pyrex could shatter when it goes straight from the freezer to the oven (for the record, I've done it and have never had this happen. But still, I'm fearful).
3. Freeze the Entire Pie: I find most people are scared to do this, thinking a fresh pie always tastes better. I'm here to tell you that it's really not true. Honest. I bet if you did a blind taste-test you may not be able to tell the difference yourself. And in many cases, I think pies that you make and then freeze actually bake up better. The trick it to take them right from the freezer to the oven; don't thaw them first. While some bakers advise to start by freezing fruit pies, I've also had great luck with pumpkin and sweet potato pie. The one recipe I don't often do in advance and freeze are delicate custard pies or cream-based pies. And, of course, any toppings you'd usually adorn your pie with (meringue or whipped cream) shouldn't be frozen.