Make pies to freeze and bake later. Making holiday pies has never been easier with this make ahead method to freeze pies and bake them later! Working ahead can be done with delicious results!
When it comes to cooking a large meal, I’m all about doing as much work ahead of time as possible. I’ve got enough going on when I’m planning to feed a crowd, the last thing that I want to do is spend all of my time in the kitchen when I could be socializing with my guests. Making pies ahead of time is a great way to save time over the holidays, especially on a such food-centric holiday as Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is the biggest pie consumption day of the year…for me. I’m pretty confident that I’m not alone in that statistic. While the Thanksgiving feast can be vary between simple to elaborate depending on personal preferences and traditions, there is always room at the table for pie. More than 36 million Americans vote apple to be our favorite pie, with strawberry-rhubarb pie, pumpkin pie, and cherry pie rounding out the top Thanksgiving picks.
According to the National Pie Council, 90% of Americans agree that a slice of pie represents the simple pleasures in life. How can it not? A slice of pie is pure comfort, invoking the warm feelings of home. To quote my favorite Pie Maker, “Pie is home. People always come home.” (–Ned, Pushing Daisies.)
If pie is home, it’s only natural that pie should be served when people come home for the holidays. It’s symbolic! Do you know what pie isn’t? Complicated. The fact that pie isn’t complicated or fussy is a baker’s best kept secret. Pie crust can be made at home in about 5 minutes with just 4 simple ingredients. Fill that crust with some sliced fruit, a little sugar, and a touch of thickener and you’re well on your way to one of life’s simpler pleasures–a warm slice of pie!
Do you want to know another secret? Fruit pies can easily be made well ahead of time and frozen to be baked another day. True story! Fruit pies freeze beautifully. A frozen crust also shrinks less when baked than a freshly rolled crust, so it holds its shape in the oven. In fact, filling and freezing a pie before baking it virtually eliminates the threat of a soggy bottom crust! I learned that cool tip from Rose Levy Beranbaum in her The Pie and Pastry Bible. Rose knows what’s up when it comes to pie!
So plan your holiday party menus to cook the day of, but save time by making the pies ahead of time.
How to Make Pies to Freeze and Bake Later:
1. Choose a good, well tested recipe.
Choosing a good recipe and using the best quality ingredients available makes all the difference in baking really great pies. I frequently bake and freeze my classic apple pie, favorite cherry pie, blueberry pie, and very cherry berry pie with fresh cranberries with excellent results. I do not recommend freezing custard or cream pies, as the texture of the filling doesn’t hold up well to freezing. Stick with fruit pies when it comes to making them ahead of time.
2. Entirely assemble the pie.
Line a pie plate with pie crust dough. Combine the fruit, sugar, and thickener for the filling. Spoon the filling into the bottom crust. Roll out and place the top crust over the filling, crimping the edges as desired. I always use standard Pyrex Glass Bakeware Pie Plate 9″ x 1.2″ Pack of 2 pie plates because glass heats slowly and the heat builds evenly so that my pies bake perfectly every time. I have a stack of these little gems in the cupboard. You should too.
3. Wrap the assembled pie well and freeze immediately.
Wrap the assembled pie thoroughly in a double thickness of plastic wrap, pressing to the surface of the pie to release any air trapped between the plastic and the pie. Then wrap the pie again with aluminum foil. Doubling wrapping with both plastic wrap and aluminum foil creates a vapor barrier to help keep the moisture that causes freezer burn out. Label the wrapped pie and freeze on a level surface in the freezer. I have frozen pies for up to two months with good results.
4. Bake the pie directly from the freezer.
Once the oven is preheated, unwrap the frozen pie and place it on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Apply a light egg wash over the top of the pie and sprinkle with coarse raw or granulated sugar, if desired. Baking the frozen pie on the baking sheet will gradually warm in the oven and keep the glass pie plate from being “shocked” (read: shattered) when put in the hot oven. The aluminum foil on the baking sheet makes clean up a breeze by catching any pesky juices that may bubble up and over the edge while baking.
5. Extend the baking time outlined in the recipe by 15 to 20 minutes.
Since the pie is baking directly from the freezer, it needs a few extra minutes for the filling to thaw and cook all the way through. Simply extending the baking time stated in the recipe by an additional 15 to 20 minutes (on average) is all it takes. Once the filling nice and bubbly and the crust is golden all the way around the pie is complete.
I should mention that although it is possible to freeze a pie after it’s been baked, I find that they don’t hold up as well or taste as fresh as pies that are frozen first and baked later. If you plan to make pies ahead of time to freeze, then save the baking until the day you plan to serve the pie.
Simply pop the pie in the oven as you sit down to dinner. Before the dishes are cleared, the intoxicating aroma of a freshly baked pie will invoke that comforting feeling of home with your guests.