Boot Camp for Pie Makers

June 17, 2013

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
David Mamet, American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, and film director

To a pie soldier like me, making pies is work. Important work, tasty work, fun work. But still serious work. I agree with Mamet that stress disappears in the presence of pie.

So, today we begin a series of blogs on making pies. Consider this series Pie Making Boot Camp. Before you step into that kitchen, soldier, you’d better be prepared for whatever you may face. Pie Making: For the few, the proud, the bakers.

I imagine itPie Making Boot Camp at CHEFScatalog.com beginning something like this:

“Do you want to bake pies, recruit?”

The drill sergeant moved into my personal space, his jet black eyes boring into mine.

“Um, sure. I love pie,” I mumbled, as I backed up against the island in my kitchen.

“I didn’t hear you clearly, recruit,” he bellowed, nose now one inch from my own.

“Yes! Yes, I want to bake pies.”

“Yes, what, recruit?” I didn’t dare fan the flour away from my face as it poofed off him and onto me.

“Yes sir, Sir!”

“On the counter recruit, and give me 20—crusts, I mean. And they better be flaky.”

A basic skill that needs perfecting

Okay, maybe that’s extreme. Maybe.

But baking an excellent pie is both a basic skill and a skill that you’ll perfect over time. Over the next several days, we’ll help you think about what tools you need, how to create the perfect crust, specific tips for fruit and cream pies, and, lastly, we’ll recruit you for the mini pie revolution.

You ready for this? Then let’s begin.

Here are some basic tools you’ll want in your duffel bag—er, kitchen.

The right tools for the job

Just like a fiction writer needs a pen, a plumber needs a plunger, and an accountant needs a calculator, the baker of pies needs some basic tools. Of course, there are additional, non-essential tools for the more experienced baker (like the writer’s plotting software, the plumber’s water leak detectors, and the accountant’s financial forecasts). But first, let’s determine what’s essential.


  1. Pastry Blender at CHEFScatalog.comPastry blender: This tool is really two tools—a pastry blender to create a fluffier consistency to your dough and a dough crimper to quickly seal and create a fluted edge for your pie crusts. Plus, you can also use it to mash potatoes, bananas (for breads or cakes), or avocados (for dips and toppings).
  2. Pie crust protector: This adjustable silicone pie shield fits 8-, 9-, and 10-inch diameter pies and prevents the crust edges burning. Flexible and lightweight to gently cover crust, keep edges intact, and allow thorough baking of the center. Eliminates the task of piecing together tin foil sections and stays in place throughout the baking process.
  3. Nonstick oven liner: Since pies frequently boil over during baking, this simple tool will save you that task of cleaning your oven after you bake a pie. Use over and over.
  4. Pie plates: All shapes, all sizes, all colors. Each chef needs a variety of pie plates.

Nice-to-have tools

These may not be essential, but they sure are nice to have.

  1. Pretty Pastry Cutters at CHEFScatalog.comCeramic pie weights: These dishwasher-safe ceramic pie weights are placed on top of your crust as it bakes to prevent air pockets from forming. Air circulates around the weights, ensuring a perfect crust. Eliminates the need to pin-prick your crusts before baking.
  2. Split pie plate: For those who can’t make up their minds—or who can’t agree—this unique pie plate ends those arguments.
  3. Easily create that “pretty pie” effect: Create decorative apple, leaf, heart, or lattice designs right into the tops of your piecrusts with these ingenious cutters. Just roll out dough, press the pie topper in to cut out shapes and place the dough on top of the pie.
  4. Pie storage: By the pie or by the slice, this pie keeper keeps your creation fresh, ready to serve or transport.

Now that the Mini Pie Revolution is underway and Pie Making Bootcamp is completed, check out these pie-related blogs on CHEFS Mix for more:

Your turn: Are you afraid of pie crusts, recruit?

Nordic Ware Giveaway This Week!

This week is Pie Making Boot Camp week at CHEFS Mix Blog! Leave a comment on any of this week's blogs and be eligible to win this week's prize: A 10-inch Nordic Ware Pie Pan With Lid. The winner will be chosen Monday, June 24, from all commenters on our pie blogs through Sunday, June 23. When you comment, leave a way for us to reach you if you're the winner. Or, check back on Monday--when we start talking about another kind of pie: Pizza!

Giveaway update: this giveaway is closed.

Grilling Essentials at CHEFScatalog.com


  • Jody

    There's also a good "pie" line in MIB3, "when you don't know what to do next, have a piece of pie" or something very close to that. As a die-hard pie lover and baker, I love that line!

  • Valerie RJ

    Happily working my way through P. Pinner's cookbook, "Sweety Pies." (an uncommon collection of Womanish Observations....with Pie.) yum! Yesterday it was lemon pie. Tomorrow... we'll see what inspiration the pie fairy brings.

  • Michael@CHEFSMix

    Valerie, I think I need to meet this pie fairy of yours ... and lemon pie sounds fab! Nice and cool for summer. Thanks for the idea!

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Tags: Pie, Bakeware, Tips, Tools

Categories: Tips & Advice