When it comes time to prep for a big meal, I'm all doing as much work as possible ahead of time, which is why I spent the three months leading up to my wedding making and freezing fruit pies destined for the dessert table. Along the way I learned that frozen unbaked homemade pies are not only incredibly convenient, they also bake up better than freshly-made pies.
Soggy bottom crusts are one of the biggest pie disappointments, but freezing a pie before baking virtually eliminates the problem, a tip I learned from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Because the bottom crust begins baking before the filling has thawed, it doesn't have a chance to soak up the excess juices that would normally make it soggy.
While whole frozen fruit pies bake up perfectly, custard pies don't fare well in the freezer, but you can still make and freeze the crust ahead of time. Discs of dough can be wrapped and stored in the freezer for months, and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight before they are rolled out. Or rolled out crusts can be put into pie pans, frozen, and baked straight from the freezer when they are needed. As an added bonus, a frozen crust shrinks less than a freshly-rolled crust when blind baked.
Because I rarely have a large block of free time to make the dough, let it rest, roll it out, prepare the filling and bake the pie, I often use the help of the freezer to break these tasks into more manageable chunks that I can accomplish over the course of a week — or even several months!
I should also add that while it is possible to freeze a fully baked pie and warm it in the oven before serving, I have found these pies don't taste as fresh or store as long as raw frozen pies that are baked either the day of or the day before serving.
Remember to wrap the pie or crust well in plastic wrap and/or foil before freezing, and expect to bake a whole pie for 20-45 minutes more than the recipe specifies, depending on the temperature of your freezer and the amount of filling. And although the pie above is in a glass pie plate, I do not recommend putting a Pyrex or other glass pan straight from the freezer into the oven, as it can shatter. Metal pans are a better choice.
More Tips for Freezing Pies
• Tip: Freeze Fruit Fillings for Pies Right Now
• Is It Possible to Freeze Pumpkin or Pecan Pies?
• A Helpful Tip for Make Ahead and Freeze Casseroles (this tip also works for pies!)
Do you have any advice for freezing pies?
Related: Bakers Trick: Perfectly Cooked Pie Crust, Every Time
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)