Pie Toolbox: Must-Haves & Do-Withouts

Kat Sniffen via Flickr.

Is your kitchen equipped for pie-making season? With our Pie Social this weekend and the holidays right around the corner, you'll want to stock up on all the must-have accessories now.

Here's our checklist for what to get and what to skip, and links to local stores where you can find everything.

Pie Pan: Get it! Of course if you're going to make a pie, you need something to bake it in. We suggest getting a pre-fluted 9-inch pie pan that's at least. This Pyrex one from Sur La Table is less than $7! Just press your dough into the design, trim off the excess, press together the edges or crimp them with a fork, and TA-DA! a perfect crust without the headache.

Rolling Pin: Get It! A good, heavy rolling pin, like this dishwasher-safe one with removable no-slip-grip handles from ABC Cake Decorating Supplies, will make crust-making a dream. Pick up a rolling mat with ruler lines and pie circles too, if you're a pie-perfectionist.

Pastry Blender: Get it (if you'll be mixing the dough by hand) or skip it (if you have an electric mixer)! You'll want a pastry blender to help mix the fat into the flour evenly without melting it with body heat from your hands. Using your Kitchenaid: Forget it.

Pie Weights: Skip it! Unfortunately you do need to putz around to keep an empty pie shell from shrinking or bubbling in the oven; however, Carol Blonder, our in-house chef guru suggests skipping the store-bought varieties in favor of an inexpensive alternative: uncooked rice or beans spread out evenly over the bottom atop parchment paper.

(Click through for the rest of our list...)

Parchment Paper: Get it! There's nothing worse than having your perfectly round pie crust stick to the counter or the rolling pin. Forget flour, which can dry out your dough, and sandwich it between two sheets of parchment paper. You'll can also wrap and and store your dough in the fridge. Our latest obsession: Martha Stewart's Parchment Paper/Tin Foil reversible combo, which we found at the Rural/Mill Safeway in Tempe.

Lattice Cutter: Maybe! There's no better way to pretty-up a fruit pie than with an open lattice, but in this case, you have a handful of options: Grab a lattice roller that cuts perfectly-spaced strips of dough to weave your own lattice, take a shortcut with a stamp-like lattice cutter that gives you the woven look without the weaving, or opt for the homemade touch using a multi-purpose pastry wheel.

Pastry Wheel: Get It! Not only can you use a pastry wheel to make a DIY lattice, you can also cut out shapes (leaves, flowers, etc.) to decorate your pies. It's also a handy tool to cut out your pie crust and trim off excess. We like options, so a two-in-one fluted and straight-edge is our best bet.

Pie Vent: Maybe! These little guys come in the most fun designs: Stick in a blackbird, a rooster, or a baking pig to let the steam out of your pie while it's baking to prevent the filling from bubbling over and the crust from collapsing in. Not feeling the whimsy? Skip it! And cut in vents instead.

Pie Crust Cover: Skip it! Just wrap a little tinfoil around the outer crust of your filled pie to prevent burning while baking, it'll be cheaper and free up some space in your kitchen drawers.

Pie Server: Get it! That first piece of pie is always stubborn, which is why we never volunteer to slice and serve and you should probably follow suit, but if you're the one stuck with the job, you'll want a pie server to help you out without massacring your creation. Four-dollar headache insurance? We'll take it.

Don't like our picks? Check out other options from ABC Cake Decorating Supplies, Sur La Table, Standard Restaurant Supply, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma, Tuesday Morning, and/or your grocery store's baking section.

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Hannah E Williams