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Pie Crust: Tips & Troubleshooting


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39 replies to this topic

#1 jende

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 05:26 PM

I have SO much trouble baking pies with a crust that is cooked through. Today I made a cherry pie. The rim of the crust was golden brown, the fruit looked bubbly and well-cooked. But when I cut into the pie after it had cooled, the bottom crust was totally raw.

What am I doing wrong??

#2 John DePaula

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 05:56 PM

Often you will need to protect the top of the pie (or at least the rim) with foil since it will cook faster than the bottom. I like to bake pies on a circular blue-steel pan like they use in France. Very effective.
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#3 alanamoana

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 06:28 PM

start with a hot oven and the pie close to the bottom (if that is where the heat originates in your oven). then you can turn down the oven to finish baking and as john states above, you might have to protect the top crust or the edges a bit toward the end of baking.

#4 Becca Porter

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 06:52 PM

I have learned that the secret is: Bake longer. No joke. It is just a matter of covering the edges with foil to slow down their browning, and baking the pie until the bottom is done. How do I know when the bottom is done? Use a pyrex pie plate, they brown better than anything else plus they allow you to see the bottom.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then drop the temperature to 375 for another 25-30 minutes.

If all that fails, try completely freezing the pie. Bake it from frozen. This allows the crust more time to bake before the filling gets ready.

I hope this helps.
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#5 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 06:54 PM

I put a pizza pan on the bottom rack while the oven is heating to 500F. Then put the pie on the hot pan and reduce heat to 425F for 30 minutes I think. Rotate, cover edges if needed and cook at 350F for another 25 - 30 minutes. This is off the top of my head but I'm sure it's close. This is the method used in Baking Illustrated and it never fails me. I had a hard time with pies as well so I just kept making them until I got it.
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#6 Qwerty

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 07:00 PM

I'm no baker but is it possible to par bake the crust and then add the filling? Seems logical to me...it's what I would do with a savory custard or a pie.

#7 MaryMc

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 07:50 PM

I preheat the oven with a baking stone in the bottom for at least half an hour, to 400 degrees F. I start with the pie on the lowest rack, in a clear Pyrex pie plate. After 15-20 minutes I reduce the temperature to 350 degrees move it down, directly on the baking stone. At that point I'll usually also mask the edges of the crust with a pie shield (foil also works but it's more trouble, the shield is worth it if you bake pies often), so they don't brown too fast.

With wet fillings, I find it also helps to brush the bottom crust with lightly-beaten egg white and freeze it for at least half an hour before filling. I also freeze the pie after it's filled and has the top crust on, for about ten minutes, then put it directly in the oven on the lowest rack.

My bottom crusts have been coming out a lot less soggy and more crisp since I've been doing all this.
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#8 paulraphael

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 09:27 PM

I mostly make tarts, but the challenges are the same.

I've used all the tricks that MaryMc mentions. They definitely help, but it stll can be a challenge to get a crisp bottom shell when the ingredients are moist.

Here's a trick from Pierre Hermé that I haven't tried yet: keep a stockpile of stale crumbls from ladyfingers or genoise or sugar cookies, and use them to lightly line the bottom of the shell to soak up excess moisture. Has anyone tried this?

#9 Beanie

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:02 AM

I ditto the above suggestions. Another solution is to freeze pies before baking, then bake for about 2 hours or more from a frozen state. By the time the filling bubbles through the slits on top, the crust is well browned all over. You may find this thread on pie crusts helpful (see demo on post #24.)
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#10 jende

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:22 AM

Thanks everyone, I'm feeling better now. :wink:

My sweet husband ate that damned pie with the soggy bottom and proclaimed it the best cherry pie he'd ever eaten. I'm going to put your suggestions to use next time, though.

#11 gfron1

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 07:35 AM

Paul,

Could you explain that technique a bit more? Do you put the crumbs on the top of the shell while its baking or under the shell on top of the pan/liner? Either way, are you then able brush them off or will they bake in? How do you do your weighting for bubbles then?

-or-

Which PH book is this in so I can read it for myself and save you typing time :)

#12 paulraphael

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 07:57 AM

Paul,

Could you explain that technique a bit more?  Do you put the crumbs on the top of the shell while its baking or under the shell on top of the pan/liner?  Either way, are you then able brush them off or will they bake in?  How do you do your weighting for bubbles then? 

-or-

Which PH book is this in so I can read it for myself and save you typing time :)

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I haven't actually tried it, so I've told you everything I know. It's mentioned in 'Desserts by Pierre Hermé' ... i don't remember him going into much more detail than what I posted, but I'll take a look.

#13 miladyinsanity

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:09 AM

Why not just parbake, though?
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#14 Lindacakes

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:11 AM

Jende,

I HIGHLY recommend that you bake another pie immediately.

I took a class with Carole Walter to perfect my pie skills -- I told her that's what I was trying to do, make absolutely perfect pie. She corrected my technique and told me to go home and make five more pies that week.

It took me two weeks, but I made the five pies (and tried some truly interesting fillings in the process -- like Jefferson Davis pie) and now I can make perfect pie.

And it's a handy dandy skill to have.

Good luck!

Linda
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#15 Becca Porter

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:32 AM

Why not just parbake, though?

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Well I do not seem to make very many single crust pies. Most of mine are double crust. You can't really parbake and then add a top crust.

Plus, it really seems to be the double-crust fruit pies that have all the soggy problems.
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#16 paulraphael

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:56 AM

I HIGHLY recommend that you bake another pie immediately.


who could argue with that?

#17 plk

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 09:01 AM

I think baking directly on a pizza stone really helps. The direct transfer of heat to the crust is really effective. Also, if the middle of the dough is thicker than it is at the edges, the bottom crust may end up underbaked and the edges will bake too quickly. I've done that one before. And, if you use a clear pyrex pie pan, you can do a visual inspection of the bottom crust. You can't tell if the crust is baked all the way through, but it does help.

#18 Mottmott

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 09:04 AM

I preheat the oven with a baking stone in the bottom for at least half an hour, to 400 degrees F.  I start with the pie on the lowest rack, in a clear Pyrex pie plate.  After 15-20 minutes I reduce the temperature to 350 degrees move it down, directly on the baking stone.  At that point I'll usually also mask the edges of the crust with a pie shield (foil also works but it's more trouble, the shield is worth it if you bake pies often), so they don't brown too fast.

With wet fillings, I find it also helps to brush the bottom crust with lightly-beaten egg white and freeze it for at least half an hour before filling.  I also freeze the pie after it's filled and has the top crust on, for about ten minutes, then put it directly in the oven on the lowest rack.

My bottom crusts have been coming out a lot less soggy and more crisp since I've been doing all this.

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Interesting, I also put them on the stone, but I do it first, then move it up. I also coat the bottom, but most of the time I use a complementary flavored perserve/glaze. My timing varies according to the type of pie/tart I'm making. Next time I'll try it in reverse.
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#19 jende

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 11:27 AM

Why not just parbake, though?

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I'm bad at this too!! Even with the old fill the crust with beans method, my crust shrinks. I think I will just have to put in some more time practicing, as some have suggested. I guess there are worse kinds of "homework" to have!

Seriously, though, baking a good pie is one of those things that is much harder than it looks.

#20 Lindacakes

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 12:54 PM

Rose Levy Berenbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible is a good source for all this sort of problem-solving.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#21 John DePaula

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 01:01 PM

Why not just parbake, though?

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I'm bad at this too!! Even with the old fill the crust with beans method, my crust shrinks. I think I will just have to put in some more time practicing, as some have suggested. I guess there are worse kinds of "homework" to have!

Seriously, though, baking a good pie is one of those things that is much harder than it looks.

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You do need to let your dough rest before rolling out and filling the pan. You can let it rest afterwards in the 'frigo before baking, too.
John DePaula
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#22 John DePaula

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 01:02 PM

Thanks everyone, I'm feeling better now.  :wink:

My sweet husband ate that damned pie with the soggy bottom and proclaimed it the best cherry pie he'd ever eaten. I'm going to put your suggestions to use next time, though.

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Wow... sounds like he's a "keeper!" :biggrin:
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
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When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#23 Becca Porter

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 01:36 PM

Why not just parbake, though?

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I'm bad at this too!! Even with the old fill the crust with beans method, my crust shrinks. I think I will just have to put in some more time practicing, as some have suggested. I guess there are worse kinds of "homework" to have!

Seriously, though, baking a good pie is one of those things that is much harder than it looks.

View Post

You do need to let your dough rest before rolling out and filling the pan. You can let it rest afterwards in the 'frigo before baking, too.

View Post



Yes, and also make sure when you place it in the pie pan, you do not stretch it to fit. You have to actually pick it up and move it where it needs to be. Any place that is stretched will shrink back.

I always follow Cook's Illustrated's timing when I do have to bake a pie shell. It works great. You do 40 minutes in the refrigerator and then 20 minutes in the freezer. Then you weight and bake.
-Becca
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#24 miladyinsanity

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:07 PM

Oh. I always parbake. I didn't know that you weren't supposed to parbake the bottom crust for double crust pies. I just thought what worked for single crust would work for double crust too.
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#25 MaryMc

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:55 PM

Interesting, I also put them on the stone, but I do it first, then move it up. I also coat the bottom, but most of the time I use a complementary flavored perserve/glaze. My timing varies according to the type of pie/tart I'm making. Next time I'll try it in reverse.



I would worry that the glass pie plate might shatter if I set it on a very hot baking stone. But you haven't had that problem?

The preserves are a good idea--I'll have to try that!
MaryMc
Seattle, WA

#26 plk

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 07:24 PM

Hmm, regular glass or ceramic probably would crack, but I've had no problems with putting pyrex directly on a hot stone, and there wouldn't be a problem with metal, either. But for something that could crack, it would be safer to let it heat up on a rack and then move it down to a stone.

#27 Becca Porter

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 08:22 PM

Oh. I always parbake. I didn't know that you weren't supposed to parbake the bottom crust for double crust pies. I just thought what worked for single crust would work for double crust too.

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The main problem would be attaching the top crust to the bottom crust securely enough to prevent major leakage. Usually you would fold the top crust under the bottom crust and flute. Which you cannot do if it is prebaked.

As far as pizza stones go, I find that even after preheating the stone for an hour that is still blocks the heat. My crusts do not brown as well or as quickly as when they are just on a rack.
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#28 miladyinsanity

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:25 PM

Oh. I always parbake. I didn't know that you weren't supposed to parbake the bottom crust for double crust pies. I just thought what worked for single crust would work for double crust too.

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The main problem would be attaching the top crust to the bottom crust securely enough to prevent major leakage. Usually you would fold the top crust under the bottom crust and flute. Which you cannot do if it is prebaked.

As far as pizza stones go, I find that even after preheating the stone for an hour that is still blocks the heat. My crusts do not brown as well or as quickly as when they are just on a rack.

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Hmm... Leakage? It's not happened to me either.

I've never had issues with prebaking and then pouring in the filling and pressing the crust to seal on the edges.

That said, my pies aren't very pretty.
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#29 andiesenji

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:47 PM

I really don't have a problem with fruit pies or double crust pies but I do use pie shields to keep the edges from browning too much. After I have transferred the dough to the pan I press the dough in the bottom of the pan so it is actually thinner than the sides.

However, when I prepare custard pies or pumpkin custard pies, I sprinkle granulated sugar on the bottom of the pie dough (I dock it before I transfer it to the pie plate as I have a roller-type docker) and then I carmelize it with a torch.
When I first learned to bake pies, almost sixty years ago, this was how I learned, only the sugar was carmelized with a hand-held salamander - the kind that was stuck right in the stove to heat until it was glowing (wood/coal range), later it was heated over a gas burner but the principle is the same.
The burnt sugar forms a hard shell that keeps the liquid custard from soaking into the dough.
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#30 paulraphael

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 09:57 AM

As far as pizza stones go, I find that even after preheating the stone for an hour that is still blocks the heat. My crusts do not brown as well or as quickly as when they are just on a rack.

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Interesting. I've wondered about this. Have you tried preheating the oven with the stone to a much higher temp (500 or so) and then letting the air temp drop down to regular baking temp before putting the pie in?

Stones are an interesting variable because the retain a ton of heat (high thermal mass) but don't transfer the heat to the food as quickly as metal (low conductivity) and they they also block the convection that you'd get with food sitting on a rack. I think the biggest help for a pie crust would be a stone that's hotter than the ambient temperature of the oven.

By the way, the slow conductivity makes it highly unlikely that you'd break any kind of glass or ceramic bakeware by setting it on a hot stone. It won't cause a drastic temperature change like putting it under a broiler or quenching it in water.

Edited by paulraphael, 04 July 2007 - 09:58 AM.