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Butter/flour mixture is pasty or sticky

The butter is melting.  Chill in refrigerator for a few minutes.

Dough has large lumps

Try to work in the larger pieces of fat with fingertips.

Dough is too crumbly/dry

Tear dough into small pieces.  Scatter drops of water and toss them in with a fork until the dough holds together.

Dough is too wet

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of flour at a time on the ingredients and fold the dough onto itself three or four times. Do not knead the dough. 

Dough is too warm

Chill it in the refrigerator until firmed.

Dough is too cold

Let the dough sit at room temperature to warm slightly for a few  minutes

Sticks to the surface or the rolling pin 

Carefully pry the dough from the surface with a long spatula. In the future, continuously flour the rolling pin and the rolling surface. Always use pinches of flour instead of large amounts.

Dough tears during rolling

The dough may be too warm. Slightly moisten the edge of the tear with water and overlap a small piece of rolled dough to patch. Carefully roll over the patch. If it keeps tearing, you may need to chill it.

Dough cracks during rolling

Dough is too cold. Slightly moisten the edge of the tear with water and overlap a small piece of rolled dough to patch.

Edges crack during rolling

Rolling over the edges causes them to crack. Roll the dough just to the edge, and then roll again towards the center. Press the cracked areas together. They will most likely be trimmed later, but you don't want them to deepen.

Dough tears when being moved into the pan.

Patch with extra pieces of dough or press edges together after moistening with water. 

Bubbles form in the crust while blind baking

Prick the bubbles during baking with the tines of a fork or the tip of a knife. To prevent it from happening in the future, prick the bottom before baking and use pie weights.

Crust loses shape

When going into the oven, the crust wasn't cold enough, and the oven wasn't hot enough.  Next time, chill the crust and make sure the oven is properly preheated.

Crust shrinks

Dough was over-mixed (producing excess gluten, which makes the dough elastic).  Shrinking also occurs when there is too little butter, too much water, or the dough ingredients are too warm.  To prevent (or minimize) shrinking, do not overwork the dough, chill before rolling out, roll out evenly, and do not stretch the crust when you transfer it to the pie pan.

Crust burned unevenly

Either the crust rollout was uneven or the pie pan has hot spots.

Crust edges fall over during baking

Crust is too thick and is pulled down by its own weight.  Also, too much fat in either the crust or the fillings, under-mixing, or using a warm crust can cause the edges to fall.

Crust is tough or mealy

Dough was overworked or there isn’t enough fat in the crust.

Bottom crust is soggy

This could be caused by several things: (1) Leaking fillings - make sure you patch any patches or holes before adding the fillings.  (2) Oven isn’t hot enough - make sure your oven temperature is accurate.  (3) Improper cooking vessel - Pyrex, ceramic, or dark metal pans retain heat and will properly brown the crust.  (4) Improper cooling - cool the pie at room temperature on a wire rack so condensation moisture doesn’t pool under the crust.  Also, try heating the pan before laying the bottom crust.

Crust burns around the edges

Cover the edges with aluminum foil when baking

Crust is too pale

This can be caused by several things: (1) Bake at a higher temperature. (2) Brush the top crust with an egg wash for a golden, glossy appearance.  (3) If your crust recipe contains vinegar or lemon juice, this could be the culprit - these ingredients are used to make the crust tender, but they can also inhibit browning. Counteract it by adding about a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to your flour before cutting the fat.

Bottom crust doesn't brown

Bake on a baking stone.  Alternatively, place aluminum foil around the edges and bake on the bottom rack at a higher temperature.  Generally, this can also be resolved by baking at a high temperature (425-450), then reducing the heat after 15-20 minutes for the remaining bake time.

Graham Cracker crust crumbles

If it won't hold its shape before you bake it, there may be too much moisture.  Try reducing the amount of butter.  If it doesn't crumble until after it's baked, it may be overcooked, which causes the crust to dry out.  Try reducing the cook time.  Also, make sure it's very firmly packed before baking - place a second pie pan in the crust and press it really really hard.

Pie cracked in the center

This is the most common problem with custard pies, caused by baking too hot and/or too long.  Unless the recipe specifically states otherwise, don't let the filling puff up (soufflé), and don't let the center completely set.

Cream or custard filling is runny

This can be caused by under- or over-baking, too little thickener, or too little protein.

Cream or custard filling curdles

Curdling is usually caused by the eggs becoming too hot.  Tempering the eggs should help - whisk the eggs thoroughly in a bowl, then slowly pour about a cup of the heated pie filling mixture into the whisked eggs and whisk constantly to gently warm the eggs. Then slowly whisk this mixture into the saucepan containing the rest of the filling mixture.

Another cause of curdling is heating the mixture too hot on the stove.  Constantly stir cream or custard filling while it is cooking on the stove, and be careful not to let it boil. This is easier if you use a double-boiler.

Fruit filling is runny

An easy way to prevent this is to pre-cook your filling. Bring 1/3-1/2 of the fruit/sugar/starch mixture to a boil, and simmer for at least one minute for cornstarch or tapioca, and three minutes for flour-thickened fillings. Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining raw fruit.

Also, be sure the pie has cooled completely before you slice it to ensure the filling has time to set.

Fruit filling is mushy

Mushy fruit is typically caused by cooking the pie too long.  Cook at a higher temperature for a shorter time, or cut the fruit into bigger pieces.

There is a gap between top crust and fruit filling

Some fruits shrink in cooking, and all release steam, which can cause an air pocket if it's not allowed to escape.  When assembling your pie, form the filling into a mound.  Cut vents in the top crust or use a lattice or crumb topping.  You can also try partially cooking your filling before filling the pie (you will need to use slightly more fruit than the recipe calls for).  Simply cook the filling in a saucepan on low heat until the fruit softens and loses some volume, then fill the pie  crust and bake.  

Meringue sweats or beads

Meringue was overcooked.  Cook at a high temperature (400-425) for a short time (4-5 minutes).  You may need to cook the pie first, then add the meringue at the end of the cooking time.

Meringue shrinks

Use a cornstarch and water mixture to form a gel: beaten gradually into a meringue, the thickener will prevent shrinking problems.

Meringue slides off filling

Spread meringue over hot filling, and spread to the edges to seal. Hot filling ensures that the inside of the meringue cooks, preventing weeping (water formed between meringue and filling underneath). Alternatively, crumbs (cake, crust, cookie, etc.) over the filling and under the meringue to absorb liquid between the layers.  Also, try leaving the meringue in the oven until it cools (turn the oven off before it is finished baking so it doesn't over-cook).

Meringue is limp or soggy

Humidity affects a meringue's texture. Damp, humid air can cause meringues to be limp and sticky, so ideally meringues should be made in a dry environment. If that is not an option, use a cornstarch and water mixture to form a gel and beat gradually into the meringue.

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