Most fruit fillings and some custard
fillings for pies are added to the pie crust before baking. Some special
tarts (a jam-filled linzertorte, for instance) are also filled before
baking. Other pies and tarts are made by first pre-baking the crust and
then adding a filling. Cream fillings, such as pastry cream, are usually
added to pre-baked crusts. Fresh-fruit or cream-filled tarts are also
generally made with pre-baked crusts.
Fruit-filled pies and tarts may be uncooked
or cooked, depending upon the type of fruit you are using - fresh, frozen
or dried. Thickeners may be added to the fruit to tighten the filling,
giving it additional body and making the finished product easier to slice
into portions. Toasted breadcrumbs may also be used to trap the juices and
prevent the bottom crust from becoming soggy.
Topping Pies and Tarts
Many pies and tarts will receive a topping
of some sort. There are many possibilities, including a standard top
crust, a lattice top, or a crumb topping. Other topping choices include
meringues, whipped cream or glazes.
To make a top crust, roll out the dough in
the same manner as for the bottom crust. You will need slightly less dough
for the top layer than the bottom, however. Cut slashes or a circular vent
in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Egg wash the edge of the bottom
layer or brush it lightly with water or milk to help seal the bottom and
top crusts together. Pinch or cut away any excess dough, and finally, turn
the edges and crimp or flute to seal.
Brush the tip crust very lightly with egg
wash if desired, or sprinkle it with sugar. You may opt to decorate the
pie with cutouts made from scraps of dough. Brush both the tops and
bottoms of these decorations so that they will stick well.
Lattice tops are made by cutting even strips
of pie dough, and arranging them in a basketweave pattern. Another common
pie topping is a meringue, which is piped onto the pie in a decorative
pattern or simply mounded and peaked. Meringues are quickly browned in a
very hot oven. If properly applied, they should not lift away from the
filling, nor should there be visible moisture beads on the meringue's
surface. Fresh-fruit tarts are generally brushed with a glaze, such as
apricot, to enhance their appearance and extend their shelf life.