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Soggy Bottom Pie Crusts

Jan 08, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

SUNSHINE QUESTION

Feedback: I was given "The Pie and Pastry Bible" for my 21st, and have enthusiastically begun pie-baking with your recipes. My mother has always used the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook circa 1950 pastry. I live in Adelaide, Australia, and many branded ingredients are not readily available (including, sadly, sour cherries and concord grapes).

I am having a problem with the bottom crust of my pies, in both single (family recipe of banana cream) and double crust pies (both apple, rosy apple cranberry, and peach - all from The Pie and Pastry Bible). Even when prebaked, and brushed with eggwhite, the crust becomes soggy, and is literally disolving by the time the pie is served. I have been using a baking stone, and a gas oven. Nonetheless, I find my pies have a "collar" of crust around the edges - and as the pastry is my favorite part, any help you can provide would be much appreciated!

Thanks,

ROSE REPLY

how i loved my visit to adelaide. i would feel sorry for you not having sour cherries except that you have so many other fantastic ingredients we don't have here in america. but someday you must taste them!

re the soggy bottom pie crusts: have you tried baking directly on the floor of the oven for the first 20 minutes? i find that helps enormously. for the banana cream pie i would brush the baked pie shell with melted white or dark chocolate that creates an excellent seal for a cream filling.

for the fruit pies, if you are concentrating the juices as i recommend and baking on the floor of the oven for the first 20 minutes and still getting a dissolving pie crust i have to question the flour you are using. flour varies significantly from country to country. when i did a demo of strudel at the melbourne tasting australia event, the bakers there recommended a specific flour they knew would work well. it might be a good idea to ask one of the local bakers what flour they would recommend for pie crust. do let me know. i strongly believe that if a bottom pie crust is soggy and thereby not worthy eating it's better to do a top crust only!

Comments

rose Levy Beranbaum
rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Joanna Sheldon
07/08/2012 11:55 AM

anantara and joanna, it is very helpful to have a baking stone preheated for at least 45 minutes and to set the pie pan directly on the stone. also, if you bake the pie from the frozen state it gives the bottom crust a head start in baking before the filling is defrosted and baked which means longer baking for the crust and helps to make it crisp.

REPLY

It's been a long time since you wrote the comment about putting the pie on the bottom of the oven to crisp up the crust, but I thought I should say this anyway. You may not be aware that a lot of gas ovens in the UK and Australia don't have bottom heat. Instead the heat is at the back; flames fly up the back of the oven. So there's a lot of heat at the top and nothing much below, making it nigh onto impossible to get a toasty or even a firm bottom crust. Which is why, I suppose, fruit crisp/crumble is such a popular alternative, here.

Joanna
(expat New Yorker in England)

REPLY

Hi, I've baked tarts in a loose-bottomed aluminium fluted pan as well as a glass dish. The one in the aluminium pan always turns out soggy at the bottom. Can someone give me tips on how to have a crisp bottom for apple pies and quiches in an aluminium pan? I'd like to get this right as it's so much easier to remove the pie after baking, Like the result in a glass dish but cutting and removing is so much harder and sometimes the crust breaks during cutting. Any tips on this too? Thanks v much!

REPLY

no it shouldn't have made them mushy, just soft and flexible you could try just 45 minutes as that's sufficient to leach out the liquid.

REPLY

Hmmm,I used Organic Granny Smith's and then baked for 40 minutes. The recipe turned out perfect except for the consistency of the apples, they were considerably more broken down than normal.

Based upon the nature of your response, I assume the 2 hour macerate along with a 40 min bake should not have made the apples mushy...

REPLY

you WANT the apples to soften during maceration--they will soften during baking anyway but this way you are getting rid of the excess liquid. if the apples become mushy during baking you are baking too long! alternatively, storage apples and different varieties tend to break down and become mushy no matter what you do!

REPLY

Doug Giannotti
Doug Giannotti
01/10/2010 04:52 PM

The apple macerate broke the apples down and made them mushy. I followed the apple pie recipe and other than that one problem it's perfect. Is there a way to avoid the inevitable and additional break down of the apples?

REPLY

Further to my rehearsal dinner pastry question, I was just reading the PPB on puff pastry. Rose says an apricot glaze will protect the bottom of a bouchee so that you can add pastry cream several hours before serving.

My dilemma: my puff pastries (2 half sheets -- one with RC raspberry conserve, the other with apple compote) will have a lattice top.

Should I bake the base with a red currant or apricot glaze before adding the conserve or compote and doing the lattice? This could actually work, as the traditional lattice for this pastry is not woven, but rather simply rested across the top in a criss-cross pattern.

If I glaze the bottom of the puff pastry before adding the conserve and doing the lattice, how long should I bake it for the glaze to set? Oven still at 400?

I've been asking a lot of questions this week, and I'm so grateful to know that someone will try to help me. Thank you!!! This rehearsal dinner is my first.

REPLY

For a rehearsal dinner, I'm making a French Canadian trottoir -- puff pastry with jam or compote, then puff pastry lattice. How can I ensure that the bottom crust won't be soggy?

I'm wondering if for the apple compote, I should follow Rose's method for apple pie to reduce the liquid from the apples.

Should I also coat the bottom crust? If so, with what? Egg white? An apricot glaze?

REPLY

This preventive advice is all well and good. But if you already have the pie out of the oven, test the state of the bottom crust with a small-bladed knife through the top crust when it is nicely browned.

If the bottom crust isn't crisp to the knife, put the pie (only if baked in a metal plate) on top of an electric stove or hotplate the stove with the heat set to just above "LO," and in 10-12 minutes, your crust will be done right.

REPLY

i'm sorry but i can't quite figure out what you're doing. freezing the bottom crust, then filing with the precooked apples, then applying top crust and baking? if this is the case i would brush with egg white after freezing so that it will sink in as little as possible. when blind baking the crust is brushed with egg white after baking as the heat sets it.

REPLY

Tom Rotelli
Tom Rotelli
11/26/2008 09:42 PM

Thanks for the helps :)

I am determined to have a flaky bottom crust sometime soon for my deep dish apple pie. I have precooked the apples low and slow to set the pectin, I used tapioca and potato starch mixed with the lemon and sugar on the apples, I plan on freezing the crust, I will bake the pie directly on my preheated pizza stone, and I will brush the bottom with egg white before baking (clearly, not in that order!)

Should I brush the crust with egg before or after freezing? Would there be any difference? Would egg white either sink into the crust or change somehow in the freezer?

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.

REPLY

from frig to oven stone is fine for pyrex but freezer to oven stone would be risky. freezer to oven rack would be ok (i checked with pyrex about this)

REPLY

Tom, I have an Emile Henry plate, and I do this all the time, but I don't know what brand yours is. When I use pyrex from the fridge, I "temper" it by placing the plate on a 1/4 sheet pan and then on the stone for about 5-10 minutes. Then I move the plate directly to the stone. Don't know if it is really necessary, but I know what you mean about not wanting to take the risk.

REPLY

Tom Rotelli
Tom Rotelli
11/25/2008 12:02 PM

I need reassurrance ... I bake in a large ceramic pie pan. if I take that from the freezer and place it on my 425 degree baking stone, will it be okay? Do I need to temper it in some way or place foil or parchment between the stone and the pan? I would hate to see Thanksgivings pie lost to a cracked pie pan.

REPLY

Sorry to hear you are having a problem with the pie crust....but awhhhh poor pie, don't throw it away, why not stir it up and swirl the resulting mush into some vanilla icecream and re-freeze - then scoop yourself some peaches, cookies and cream icecream!

REPLY

Hello rose, I am a big fan and an avid reader of your books and blog. I usually find your recipes foolproof.
But it seems that no matter what I do, with a peach pie--being an experienced baker and after following all your steps--my crust doesn't turn out. I have resigned myself to the fact that a bottom crust will never be as crisp as the top--but what about when the top crust is soggy, too? What could be the cause for this? My peach pie looked done and the edges are crisp but the top crust itself is mush--just like the bottom. The pie is headed straight for the trash!

REPLY

yes--concentrating the apple juices really helps to prevent a soggy crust. a bottom crust will never be crisp in a moist juicy pie but it shouldn't be soggy. between reducing the liquid and baking for the first 20 minutes on the floor of the oven you should have a nicely browned bottom crust that isn't soggy.

REPLY

The apple pie recipe I used was an old family recipe that I always used with frozen supermarket pie crust- though never turned out soggy wasn't crisp either. (My mom made her pie crust with corn oil which I found hard to work with - I don't know how my mom made hers so effortless and the crust was never soggy). So now I'm brave enough to make my own crust and do not want to use corn oil.
Anyway , I checked your all american apple pie recipe and the ratios are close to what I use - I noticed you reduce the drippings of the macerated apples with the butter. I shall give all your techniques in the all american apple pie a try. Thanks!

REPLY

an apple pie? my apple pie or someone else's apple pie? bc the inside contributes greatly to the quality of the bottom crust. in any case it always helps to bake it part of the time on the bottom of the oven.

REPLY

Hi Rose! I just tried your flaky cream cheese pie crust and the deluxe flaky pie crust with an apple pie. I have convection so that was what I used. The first I tried with 400 F for 40 minutes with preheated baking sheet middle shelf- I got soggy bottom crust. I noticed it browned too much too, so next I tried 385F for 48 minutes without the baking sheet and still got soggy bottom - almost dissolved actually. Should I try the bottom of the oven first even if I am using convection.Another question, my pie dish is 9.5 so I think I might have rolled the bottom crust too thin - could this contribute to soggy bottom crust too, can the recipe scale easily...
Sorry for too many questions ...thanks!

REPLY

kathy,i worked hard on fixing these problems and producing a perfect apple pie. take the pie and pastry bible out of the library and check it out!

REPLY

I just baked a beautiful apple pie which was proudly displayed at Thanksgiving....to my great disappointment and frustration when cut into, the bottom of the pie crust was very soggy & soupy. I did not pre bake the the crust and the apples were orchard apples, the recipe was a basic apple pie recipe which called for 2 tablespoons for flour and the oven temp was 400. (This also happened to me last year with a blueberry pie, but the berries were frozen which I suspect was the problem.) Do you have any suggestions or remedy's so I don't bomb again next year! Thanks for your help and advice. Kathy

REPLY

thank you for this delightful and informative report!

REPLY

Rose, thanks for your response. I just wanted to follow up with the results of my test "cookie" of crust. The vinegar flavor did indeed dissipate. While I haven't tasted your cream cheese crust made with the cider vinegar, the flavor of the crust I made which substituted an equal part of white vinegar tasted delicious. ....probably the best flavor of any homemade crust I've ever tasted.

I assembled the apple pie last night and put it in the freezer for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to bake and eat it. Making a crust was much easier than I had anticipated. I'll probably rarely use a store-bought crust again. Especially when I consider that I can make dough ahead and freeze it. The rolling really isn't that much work. And your recipe didn't seem to crack or tear at all.

Thanks, DKinMIA

REPLY

i think the vinegar will disiapate on baking but just to be on the safe side, pinch off a tiny bit, flatten it like a cookie and bake it about 7 min or til lightly browned.

REPLY

Hi Rose,

I recently saw a snippet of one of your programs on PBS--had not know about you before that. I'm an avid home cook and immediately recognized that you were "the real deal". I just purchased your Pie and Pastry, and Cake Bibles.

I have a question..... I am in the process of making an apple pie for Thanksgiving. Generally, I have purchased the cruse from Pillsburry but, inspired by your book, am making my first pie crust. I'm going to make that pie ahead and freeze it as I have a lot of travel before the holiday. Anyhow, I made the dough last night (I think it went well) and will roll it out today, add the filling, and freeze before baking. My question is: I didn't have cider vinegar on hand and used white vinegar in equal proportion instead. I tasted a pinch of the dough before placing it, wrapped in plastic, in the fridge. It did have a noticeable vinegar taste. Will the substitution work or will I need to scrap the dough and make it with cider vinegar?

REPLY

Leonard Mayer
Leonard Mayer
10/25/2007 08:36 AM

If you have a juicy pie that gives rise to a soggy bottom layer, there are several things you can try. You can use a food processor to prepare the dough so it won't be so flaky. You can prebake the shell. You can brush egg white over shell and then prebake it. You can add a nut flour to the dough like almond nut flour to make the crust more crisp. You can try a different flour with more gluten/protein so it will be more firm. Or you can add a little flour or cornstarch to fruit mixture to make it more thick so it won't make the bottom crust so moist and soggy. All these factors come into play. I have read the Pie Bible and think it is a wonderful inspiration for experimenting with all factors that affect the outcome for any pie.

REPLY

Hi Judy - a quick google search brought up lots of sites that state Pink Lady apples are fine for both eating out of hand, and baking. It's a cross between a Golden Delicious and Pink somthing-or-other.

REPLY

Rose, can I use Pink Lady apples for an apple pie? I read where they can be quite juicy, perhaps I should use up the apples in an applesauce recipe instead. Thank you.

REPLY

yes--thicker stones of course conduct the heat better. i'm assuming you used a pyrex pie plate? try baking directly on the floor of the oven for the first 20 min--that would surely work though i suspect the center ever gets quite as done as the rest. it should not, however, be unbaked.

REPLY

Hi Rose,

I made your Great Pumpkin pie with your basic crust. I put the pie on a preheated baking stone and baked the pie 60 minutes. The filling is done but the crust appears not to be done on the bottom center of the pie - about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. My question is - are there different quality baking stones? I followed the recipe to a 'T'. The only thing I can think of is my baking stone.

REPLY

thank you! now you need to make the passion ice cream from the pie book--the best thing in the entire book and it's not even pie!

REPLY

cristina o'halloran
cristina o'halloran
07/24/2007 07:48 AM

I recently bought your Cake Bible and Pie book -hard to come by in the UK! I really like your scientific approach AND the marvelous result of your recipes. I'd love to see more ice cream recipes - your Lucious Lemon was superb. Any plans for an ice cream bible?

REPLY

i'm sure it does. it's such an important thing i wouldn't have forgotten to mention this. at any rate the purpose of convection is even baking not speed. of course if you're roasting a chicken you may appreciate the speed as well but not a cake!

REPLY

Dear Ms. Beranbaum:

Does The Cake Bible say this anywhere?
I looked in the index and tips for just this information in your book (which I love) but could not find it. I have a Thermador with the convection feature but never use it even though I bake a lot. Also, if the baking time is not reduced, what is the advantage of using the convection oven -- I know it is supposed to cook more evenly but to what effect if not saving time? Thanks

REPLY

diane, the answer is above on this thread. i somehow missed your question back in sept. but as you can see when you scroll up, concentrating the fruit's juices by letting them sit in the sugar and then boiling them in a large microwave safe glass measure or on the stove top until syrupy will be the answer.

REPLY

you certainly did not answer my question

REPLY

Hi. I just made an apple pie with some apples from a local orchard. They taste good, but I noticed that they are extremely watery (even though the sign said they're great for pies). I haven't assembled the pie yet- any suggestions for preventing a soggy crust, which I imagine will be the outcome? Thanks!

REPLY

most ovens have the heating elements on top and bottom and more often than not the bottom one is buried under the metal plate of the oven floor.

REPLY

Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor
06/12/2006 01:22 PM

You said bake the pie on the floor of the oven, I presume bacause the heating element is there. My gas oven (propane) has the heating burner on top. Will baking on the floor still work with this kind of oven?
P.S. Love your pie bible. Every year now my family asks me to make the pies at holidays.

REPLY

thank you!
most ovens when set to convection need to be turned down 25 degrees. i bake my pies at 400 and protect the edges with foil rings. as for the crisp bottom crust--i've addressed this important question massively on the blog so please do a search and you'll find all the possibilities.

REPLY

Rose! I love your bibles! They are a great resource. Praise the word of baking gospel! I am a baker whose only oven is a convection oven. What do you recommend as far as baking temperatures go? I have been baking my pies in Emily Henry pie pans and on a preheated baking sheet at 375 (oh, and they are usually apple pies) any suggestions for getting the bottom crust more done? Thank you, I have learned so much reading your books.

REPLY

I've actually known some people with electric ovens that have coils on the floor to invert a large pan over them to create a baking surface.

A piping hot sheet pan is better than nothing but not as good as a baking stone.

REPLY

Renee Gleason
Renee Gleason
02/27/2006 01:23 PM

I just stumbled on my answer further on down the board...sorry! You said using a preheated baking stone works well, but if I don't have a baking stone will a piping hot sheet pan do the trick? Thanks again!
Renee

REPLY

Renee Gleason
Renee Gleason
02/27/2006 11:41 AM

For those of us who have electric ovens (and therefore cannot bake directly on the floor b/c the element is there) would placing the pie on a preheated sheet pan and then baking on the very bottom rack produce the same (or similar) effect of baking on the floor? If not, are there any other tricks you can recommend for crisp crusts baked in an electric oven? Thank you!!

REPLY

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