The fruit at the produce stand looks too good to pass up and an image of a perfect fruit pie dances in front of your eyes. Never having made a pie before, you quake before grabbing a few pounds of that fruit and heading for the grocery store, where ready-made pie crust is waiting. But the recipe you have calls for a specific size pie plate and as you look at yours, the questions begin.
Whether you're making a pudding or fruit pie, a quiche or a tart, the ingredients expand when they're cooking. A recipe's cooking time is based on the quantity of filling in a specifically sized dish. For a perfect pie, measure your pie plate's diameter and depth. Knowing its volume also aids when cooking.
Measure the pie plate from one inside edge, across the middle, to the opposite side's inside edge. You now have the size of the pie plate. A typical 8-to-9-inch pie plate yields an evenly baked crust and fully cooked filling. A soggy bottom may result from a larger pie dish. If the rim is fluted, still measure from inside edge to inside edge.
Use the same technique to measure baking dishes, tart pans, cake pans and casserole dishes.
Place the bamboo skewer across the top of the dish from one side to the other. Take the ruler and measure upward from the center of the dish to the bottom of the skewer. If the measurement is 1 1/2 to 2 inches, you have a deep-dish pie plate, and the baking time should be adjusted for a greater volume.
To measure the dish's capacity, fill the measuring cup to a prescribed level with water and pour it into the dish. Keep adding water. When the dish is full, you know its capacity.
Using the wrong sized pan means adjusting the cooking time. A smaller diameter pan means the depth increases, making the cooking time longer. Test for doneness by gently tapping the center of the pie filling after cooking it for the length of time the recipe specifies. If it bounces back lightly, it's done. If not, extend the cooking time in three-minute increments until the center is done.
A larger pan decreases the cooking time as the filling fills a wider but more shallow space. Shorten the directed time by 10 minutes. Start testing for doneness when the time is up, extending the cooking period by two minutes until it's done.