The Thanksgiving Pie Hack That Only Needs Pennies

While the phrase "penny for your thoughts" might be something Grandma says, those pennies in the bottom of her purse might be a reason to be thankful this holiday season. Even if passing off a Marie Callender's pie as homemade might be some people's secret pie hack, that little fib might not make Santa too happy. Instead of the bait and switch, it may be time to level up your baking skills.

Although some bakers might turn to the store-bought crust instead of rolling the dough from scratch, baking the dough can be a stumbling block in the dessert process. After The Great British Bake Off popularized the term "soggy bottom,” that less-than-perfect pie crust is something no one wants to serve. The Pioneer Woman recommends a chilled dough, low oven rack placement, and waiting to cut that first slice, but those concepts are only part of the recipe. 

Taste of Home recommends using a pie shield to avoid burnt crusts, avoiding overworked dough, and even using a cast-iron skillet instead of a pie plate. Whether these tips have been perfected by grandma or a celebrated baker, the reality is that the weight of pie expertise can tip the scales in baking success. When it comes to parbaking a crust, piling up the pennies could help you achieve the perfect pie slice.

A pound of pennies might be the ultimate Thanksgiving pie saver

While the old phrase about a penny saved is a penny earned might not be rooted in baking techniques, a fistful of pennies could save that Thanksgiving pie. Some pie recipes call for parbaking, or blind baking, a pie crust. According to Food52, that pie technique means that the crust is baked prior to it being filled. Because there's no filling to keep the pie crust from expanding too much, it needs a "weight" to keep it from puffing up in the tin.

Food Network discusses several household items that could be used as pie weights. While grandma might have used beans or rice, the publication adds that pennies could be an option, as long as the dough is lined prior to piling in the coins. (But given that USA Today reported a coin shortage earlier in 2022, it might be difficult to pile enough pennies into that pie tin.)

Still, the concept of using various items as a pie weight can help the novice baker. Home bakers don't have to buy pie weights or feel bad about wasting pantry staples, such as beans, just for a non-edible use. A little ingenuity can go a long way in the kitchen, and that notion is definitely a pie hack worth remembering.