Jim Coleman | Should you prick a pie shell?

Posted: April 19, 2007

Q. I enjoy reading all your stuff and I watch your shows. I was hoping you would take the time to help me. All of my grandchildren love pie, especially pecan pie. Could you please send me your favorite recipe? And I'd like to know if pecans need to be toasted before making a pecan pie.

Also, I'm a little confused about whether or not it is necessary to prick pie dough with a fork. I look forward to your response.

- Rinda R.

A. First, no need to thank me for taking the time - that's what I'm here for. Now as far as taking out other things like the trash or the dogs for a walk, I can think of a few people who might say I could do a better job. Secondly, I'm sure you already know this, but you have excellent taste in what you read and watch.

Let's get to those questions of yours. As long as your pecans aren't as old as disco, then there isn't any need to toast them before adding them to your pie, since they will automatically toast while the pie cooks. But if you're not exactly sure when those pecans found their way into your pantry, it certainly wouldn't hurt to throw them on a cookie sheet and toss them into a 225-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pie dough should be pricked before baking if you are pre-baking the empty pie shell and you don't want it to rise too much. This process even has its own term, blind baking, and it is mainly used for cream and meringue pies. These are also called icebox pies in certain areas of the country, not to be confused with ice cream pies with shells that consist of ground graham crackers or cookies.

Even with icebox pies, you don't have to prick the pie dough if you have pie weights, which will also keep the dough from rising. Some people suggest using dried beans if you don't have weights, but I don't think they are heavy enough.

The two recipes include a traditional pecan pie and one that has bourbon, which can easily be omitted without requiring other recipe adjustments, and also has chocolate, which may be a requirement with your grandkids. And Rinda, I'm sure they will love to eat either version while you're teaching them about excellent reading and viewing standards. *

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