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jende

Pie Crust: Tips & Troubleshooting

56 posts in this topic

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??

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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.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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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.

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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.


-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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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.


Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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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.

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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.


MaryMc

Seattle, WA

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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?

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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.)


Ilene

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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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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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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 :)

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.

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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.

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Why not just parbake, though?

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.


-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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I HIGHLY recommend that you bake another pie immediately.

who could argue with that?

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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.

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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.

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

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Why not just parbake, though?

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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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.

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Why not just parbake, though?

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.

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
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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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.

Wow... sounds like he's a "keeper!" :biggrin:


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Why not just parbake, though?

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.

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.

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

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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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.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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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.

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

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