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Pie baking help for the holidays

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Feeling weepy over your meringue this holiday season? Or a bit flaked out over the pie crust? The season for baking often brings out seasonal pie angst and this Thanksgiving and Christmas, Crisco has seasoned bakers on standby to help with all manner of baking questions.

The Crisco Pie Hotline will be staffed by pie experts Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST and can be reached at 1-877-FOR-PIE-TIPS (1-877-367-7438). The pie hotline will offer extended hours from November 12-21 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST) and December 12-22 (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.).

Michele Stuart, owner of Michele's Pies in Westport and Norwalk, Connecticut, and the author of the cookbook "Perfect Pies" offers her best tips for pie baking success.

•Double Duty Pie Crust: Use leftover pie dough to make a variety of savory appetizers. Dust with cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle with savory flavors like Parmesan cheese, fill with salsa or mashed potatoes or even roll into tantalizing fruit empanadas.
•Less is More: The miniature trend is still going strong and it’s a fun way to sample a variety of pie favorites during the holiday season. Instead of making one 12-inch pie, let guests sample from a diverse variety of small 5-inch pies.

Here are a couple of winning pie recipes provided by Crisco:

Apple Cranberry Raspberry Pie

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 55 min
Yield: 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:
• CRUST
• Double Crust Classic Crisco Pie Crust
• FILLING
• 3 cups cored, peeled, chopped Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
• 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
• 1 (10 oz.) package frozen dry pack raspberries, thawed
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon water
• Sugar
PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:
1. PREPARE recipe for double crust pie. Roll out dough for bottom crust. Place in 9-inch pie plate. Press to fit without stretching dough. Trim even with pie plate. Do not bake.
2. HEAT oven to 375°F.
3. COMBINE apples, cranberries and raspberries in large bowl. Mix sugar, tapioca, cinnamon, salt and almond extract in small bowl. Add to fruit mixture; toss well. Spoon filling into unbaked crust.
4. ROLL out dough for top crust. Place onto filled pie. Trim 1/2-inch beyond edge. Fold top crust under bottom crust edge to seal. Crimp and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to allow steam to escape.
5. BEAT egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush on surface of pie. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edge with foil to prevent over-browning. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake an additional 25 to 35 minutes or until filling in center is bubbly. Serve warm.

A Touch of Orange Apple Pie

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Yield: 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:
• Double Crust Classic Crisco Pie Crust
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 7 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples, about 2 pounds or 7 medium
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Milk
• Sugar

PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:
1. PREPARE recipe for double crust pie, using a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out dough for bottom crust and place in pie plate according to recipe directions.
2. HEAT oven to 400ºF.
3. COMBINE sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, orange peel, salt and nutmeg in small bowl. Place apples in unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples. Dot with butter. Moisten pastry edge with water.
4. ROLL out dough for top crust, place onto filled pie and finish edges according to recipe directions. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to vent steam.
5. BAKE 35 minutes. Remove pie from oven. Brush with milk. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edge of pie with foil, if necessary, to prevent overbrowning. Bake 10 minutes or until filling in center is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

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