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Old 10-27-2004, 01:39 PM   #1
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Pie Question

watche alton brown explain all the pie crust tricks the other night, and I do all that...lard, prebaking etc. and that's fine for single crust pies. What about 2 crust? How does one get a nice, thick, non gooey bottom crust, especially w/fruit pies? I think the trick is the thickener..mine never look like the mag. pictures-where the fruit stays in the piece and isn't all over the plate! I have great tasting recipes, but they all fail in that regard. What do you use to thicken your fresh fruit pies? (even the canned filling runs out, so maybe this is a technique problem, like I should bake slower/longer???)


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Old 10-27-2004, 02:29 PM   #2
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You will likely get lots of different opinions on this one. First, the crust - the best way to keep a bottom crust from sogging is to prebake it. For the filling, I like to use tapioca as a thickener. I know that alot of people use flour or cornstarch, but I think that tapioca really helps to 'gel' the filling and you never get an 'off' taste. Use about 3 tb for a regular pie.

I also think that for some fruits, like apples, it helps to use the right kind for baking. Use a kind that remains firm when cooking and does not break down all over the place and release alot of juice. Some common examples are Jonagold, Granny Smith, MacIntosh, Winesap, and Crispin. You can also use more exotic apples if you have access to them. It can also help to cook the apples slightly before putting them in the pie shell. Just saute them in a tiny bit of butter until they begin to release some of their juices and then ladle them into the crust.

Hope some of this helps. :)

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Old 10-27-2004, 02:36 PM   #3
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I think that 2 crust pies brown better in a pyrex or a corning pie pan. But that is just my opinion.
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Old 10-27-2004, 03:31 PM   #4
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I agree with chocolatechef. I always use a pyrex and that seems to brown my bottom crust well. I use flour for my thickener, not out of preference really, just habit. I always make a point, before I take my pie out of the oven for good, to carefully look at the bottom crust (can do this with Pyrex!). If it's still doughy looking, I'll put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. If the top crust is browned to where I want it, I rest a piece of foil (shiney side down) on top.
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Old 10-27-2004, 05:59 PM   #5
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Pyrex or black pie pans are probably your best bets. The point is to get the crust to heat up fast and hot.

I've found that baking filled pies on a heavy duty sheet pan in the lower level of my oven works the best. You get the direct heat from the bottom burner into the bottom of the crust through the heavy aluminum sheet pan and you protect the rest of the pie from direct heat at the same time.
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Old 10-27-2004, 06:01 PM   #6
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You know, Psiguy is probably right about the baking sheet. I have and my mother have always used one under our pies, but I did it to keep the juices from overflowing on the oven.

Maybe mom did it to help browning.
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Old 10-27-2004, 06:22 PM   #7
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And don't pay any attention to what the pretty pictures look like! The 'food stylists' do so much to food before they 'shoot' it, you wouldn't be able to eat it anyway!!
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Old 10-27-2004, 07:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by marmalady
And don't pay any attention to what the pretty pictures look like! The 'food stylists' do so much to food before they 'shoot' it, you wouldn't be able to eat it anyway!!
Ha! Isn't that the truth!

I go so far as to preheat my baking sheet before putting the pie in the oven, and I pretty much always start out a fruit pie in an oven preheated to 425 degrees and immediately reduce the heat to 350 as soon as the pie goes in and the oven door closes. This is probably a ridiculous move, since the oven looses so much heat when the door opens, but that baking sheet is hot!

My 17-year-old son puts me to shame in making apple pies! He tosses sliced Granny Smith apples in a mixture of about 1/4 cup flour, 2 tbsp. of corn starch, 1/4 cup sugar, lots of cinnamon and a "splash" of nutmeg. I never used cornstarch. And the difference between his pies and mine are like night and day -- his are just shy of firm. He also follows the same method of preheating the pan and temps.

Guess who makes the apple pies around here? Ah...for as long as it lasts!!
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Old 10-28-2004, 02:55 AM   #9
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I recently started using lightly beaten egg white, brushed all over the base, sides as well. . Let it sit for about 15 mins. before adding filling. Use cold filling. When it is time to put lid on I brush the edges with egg white, put lid on, seal edges, brush all over the top of lid with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Let stand 15 minutes more, this will help seal top and also help stop crust from shrinking. I also use Pyrex pie dishes.
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Old 10-29-2004, 10:41 PM   #10
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I have a few thoughts on these subjects. Please keep in mind these are just ideas, as I don't bake enough to have much actual experience good or bad.

If I'm not mistaken, doesn't Pyrex/glass cook 25°F hotter than the oven temp? If so, that would explain the crispier, more caramelized crusts.

This ibt is my experience. In cutting pies, COLD pies tend to hold their shape better, as anything that is thickened is "tighter" when it's cool. Cutting a piece of cold pie will result in a good "wedge". If you microwave that piece, it tends to fall apart.

That said, has anyone tried this: adding extra thickening agents to the mix before baking? This can include flour mixed with the sugar, or cornstarch mixed with the sugar (I think someone mentioned that already), or maybe a neutral pectin? Pectin is used to thicken up jelly, and if I'm not mistaken, is derived from apples to start with.

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