When my father retired from a lifetime of cooking he returned to his first love – pastry. He was a patisserie extraordinary. He started me pastry making at a very early age. One might say I learned baking at my Father’s knee.
Later when I had my own home my parents would visit for a couple of weeks several times a year. They lived a five hour drive away. When they left my deep freeze would be filled with dozens of fruit pies. He always used lard and his pastry was so flaky it would practically drift off the plate and into your mouth. My Father could make a dozen pies in the time I took to make one.
My Father’s secret to a solid, intact bottom crust was pretty simple. He would place a baking sheet in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 400°F. The pie plate was placed directly onto the preheat sheet. The secret is to liquefy the solid fat as quickly as possible so it can create a watertight barrier preventing juices from soaking the bottom crust. By placing the pie plate on a preheated baking sheet you jump-start this process.
Now with this little trade secret you can bake really juicy pies, such as cherry, without fear.