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Chef offers tips on how to perfect pie crusts

December 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Whoever said "easy as pie" wasn't a run of the mill baker. Many who try their hand at this dessert have a hard time perfecting it. But with the help of Chef Evan Kleiman, we'll get it right.

Kleiman, a chef and host of "Good Food" on KCRW 89.9 FM, said the biggest mistake people make is to get intimidated.

Owner of Angeli Caffe, self-trained pie expert Kleiman always starts by making more dough than necessary for good reason.

"You can do two crusts, top and bottom, if you want, or you can make little cut out appliqués to decorate with, or you can make hand pies," said Kleiman.

Crust is the pie's foundation, but don't worry if it isn't picture perfect.

"I really think rips are not a problem. Every time there's a rip I go, 'Oh that's a good place to put a vent,'" said Kleiman.

Vents are necessary to release steam when using a double crust, otherwise you get a filling that's raw and gummy.

Another tip? Brush beaten egg on certain areas of the crust to get a shine and take the focus off any imperfections.

"Every pie should go in the oven hot - 425 for the first 20 minutes gives you a nice bottom crust, sets the dough, keeps the butter from melting all over the place," said Kleiman.

Kleiman puts aluminum foil over the top and then removes it during the last 15 minutes of baking to get a golden brown crust.

And if you're looking for a fun way to decorate the edges, there's many more options than the traditional fork technique. She uses a knuckle and thumb technique to push and pull a creative crust.

"It gives you a really pretty, super Americana edge," said Kleiman.

Or try cutting out shapes and apply them to your crust.

And talk about 21st century. Kleiman recently developed the Easy As Pie app for the iPhone, which gives video demonstrations of how to make 20 of her delicious pies for a mere $4.99.

"It's all about just making something good to eat and sharing it with somebody you like," said Kleiman.

In the event you aren't making your own and would like to help others in need, Coco's and Carrows Restaurants will once again provide thousands of fresh-baked pies to those in need through their annual Pies for a Purpose charitable initiative.

Customers will have the opportunity to purchase fresh-baked pies for donation to local food banks in California, Nevada and Arizona.

Check out photos of tips on baking the perfect pie crust.

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