I am on a quest to make the perfect pie crust. Yesterday I thought I had achieved it - the crust looked beautiful before I put it in the oven. When I took the pie out I found that one side of the crust had slooped down and lots of melted butter had pooled in the baking sheet under the pie. When I sliced into the pie, the crust was tough.
I think what had caused the pooling of butter and the slooping of the crust is that the butter had become soft and I should have put it in the fridge or freezer one last time before baking. Is this correct? But, what would have made the crust tough?
Also, this was my first blueberry pie and I used 2 Tbls. of Quick Tapioca as a thickening agent. It didn’t thicken the filling. Any suggestions?
You are correct…you should have put the pie in the fridge before baking.
As far as the crust being tough…that usually means the dough was over worked.
The thickening? I never used tapioca so I can’t comment. If you search the blog I once posted various thickeners for various fruits recommended by cooks illustrated. If you got Rose’s book “the pie and pastry bible” she has various methods for thickening various fruits…I too have had problems with blue berry pie being too runny….good luck!
Yes to what Bill said, the crust must always stay cool the whole time you are working on it, it must rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so before baking, and you need to use a low-protein flour and avoid overworking the dough.
My grandmother used to thicken blueberry pies with tapioca, the center of the pie must come to a boil (bubble) for any starch to work properly. Was your oven hot enough to set the pie crust and to fully cook the filling?
I like to pre-cook the filling. Just until the starch in the thickener goes off. That way I can correct if it is too runny. I make sure the filling is pretty stiff because the fruit will give up even more juice in the oven.
Most pastry, including pies, need to be baked at a higher temp so that the crust will set before the butter melts, usually 425 or so. If you follow all the directions for the crust in the link, above, you’ll be doing everything just right. Use the flour called for in the recipe, some use pastry flour, others bleached AP.
If your filling was bubbling, then the starch was activated and was doing all it could to thicken the pie. You either need more starch (which can dull the fruit flavor) or you need to reduce the juices as directed for many fruit pies in the Pie/Pastry Bible.
I use wondra for my pies, and I really like it. I have a hard time finding bleached pastry flour, so this is a good alternative as recommended in the pie bible.
For a quart of blueberries, Rose recommends 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. If using more sugar, you will also need extra thickener. Also, tapioca does have a shelf life, so that is something to consider. I use tapioca in the form of cassava powder, and find it sets faster than cornstarch at just the boil, so perhaps you used more than 1/2 cup of sugar or more than a quart of berries?
I use white lily bleached ap flour, it has brought me to award winning pie crusts. (locally…lol) Also, I use a mix of butter and shortening, ratio 3 parts butter to 1 part shortening, with a bit of ice water to bind it… not too much or use vodka…and I put my pie crusts in the freezer for atl least 30 min, fill with fruit and bake. I also go old school and use cornstarch, Rose likes it too, if you make sure the fruit boils it will cook the starchy taste out and leave a beautiful looking and flavored pie.
Heidi S, I’m glad you started this topic….I have tried the basic flaky pie crust and the cream cheese one from Rose’s book and followed all of the instructions regarding putting ingredients in the freezer, resting in the refrigerator, etc. I still get a mess in the bottom of my oven after baking from leaky butter, even with the temperature at 425 and then turned down to 400 (I use the Emile Henry ceramic pie plates). I guess I should have learned my lesson and put a sheet underneath… I’m not 100% convinced yet that I prefer the 100% butter version in Rose’s book versus the Cook’s Illustrated recipe that also uses some shortening. I need to do more pie and quiche baking to find out!
Hi - it’s been a while since I have posted anything here because I have been working so hard. I started a little pastry business that specializes in cookies, tarts and pies. Because of that I feel that I am qualified to respond to this post as it has all happened to me! The shrinking pie crust is a result of overworking as Bill mentioned but I believe that your recipe may have had something to do with it as well. If you overworked the pie dough chances are that it would not have come out correctly with a flaky texture no matter what. A flaky American pie dough requires very little work with your hands or the pockets of fat from the butter and shortening will integrate into the flour preventing a flaky texture. The fat should be left in small pea size increments so that they explode when they hit the heat and cause air pockets that end creating the flaky texture. All ingredients must be cold as mentioned earlier. I believe that a combination of flours works best. A combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour works best for me. Also a combination of cold butter and cold shortening provide the best flaky texture. The addition of one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar that retards over browning and helps to make it flaky is also good. As to the runny filling - I have never found that the two tablespoons of cornstarch that most recipes call for ever worked for me. I often find that blueberries are too runny for that small amount of thickener and I made a cherry pie once using that amount of thickeners that ended up looking like a red Lake Erie. Those problems ended when I discovered Clear Jel which is available on Amazon.com. Equal amounts of Clear Jel and Tapioka flour have been a miracle for me. Although the directions say to use it cooked I have found that if you just sprinkle three to four tablespoons over the fruit you will be fine -depending on the size of the pie of course. Using a little less will result in a pie that has some juice running but I tend to like that.
Just wanted to correct a miss typed line in my post - the pea sozed bits of shortening and butter - or fat - in the crust hits the heat and explodes creating thousands of air pockets that end up being reponsible for creating the flaky texture that is the signature of an American Pie crust