Pie Tips From Pastry Chef Tim Nugent of Scala's Bistro

Easy as Pie: 6 Tips From Tim Nugent of Top Chef: Just Desserts

Want to get on the family's good side this turkey day? Then bake a pie! Sweet, buttery, and comforting, these pastries are a wonderful closing statement to an all-out meal. While it isn't too late to bake up your favorite recipe, pie can be a delicate balance of art and science. So to help you get started, we enlisted Tim Nugent, pastry whiz at San Francisco's Scala's Bistro and Top Chef: Just Desserts season one contestant. His tips for maximum pie finesse here.

  • Toss all the fruit in a bowl with the sugar and thickening agent before filling the shell. "This gets everything coated with a little starch," Nugent explains.
  • Use tapioca starch as the thickening agent. This applies in particular with berries: "Fresh berries are really wet and need it."
  • Always chill the whole pie before baking. "I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to ensure the edges don't fall," the pastry chef says.
  • Use a glass pie pan. This way you can monitor the color on the bottom.
  • Start at a higher temperature: This sets the dough. You can lower the heat later.
  • Use pork fat or beef fat in place of shortening. Nugent guarantees: "It'll make the pie crust even more flaky."

What are your best pie tips?

Source: Thinkstock, Kimpton Hotels

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