Making Metal Behave Like Glass

We prefer to bake pies in glass or ceramic pie plates because they conduct heat slowly, preventing the crusts from overbrowning before the filling has fully set. (Glass also allows us to easily monitor the browning progress.) But what if metal or disposable aluminum pie plates are all you have? To figure out the best way to prevent overcooking, we lined both types of plates with pie pastry and tried a few tricks. We lowered the oven temperature, and we baked the shells on a single aluminum sheet tray, as well as on a double stack to insulate the bottom of the plate from the oven’s direct heat.

Dialing back the temperature was the wrong approach: The crusts baked up not only pale, but also soggy because the temperature wasn’t hot enough to cook off the moisture in the dough. Sliding a single sheet tray underneath the pie plate was more effective, and using two was even better. The double layer of insulation ensured that the crusts cooked gradually and evenly. We still prefer glass plates, but it’s nice to know how to make metal ones behave more like glass if the need arises.

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