Fillings and Toppings for Pies and Tarts

Fillings and Toppings for Pies and Tarts

Fillings for Pies and Tarts

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.

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