How to bake fruit pies?
It’s the number one comment I get from readers just like you.
“My pie looks beautiful but when I cut into it, it’s a flood zone!”
“I followed the recipe exactly and my pie is a soupy mess!”
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Has this ever happened to you? The questions I often get on Pinterest or here at YCLROL are:
- How do you fix a soggy pie?
- Why does my pie have a soggy bottom?
- How do you keep a pie crust from getting soggy in a fruit pie?
If you love to bake and fruit pies in particular, chances are you’ve had your share of soggy bottoms or soupy pie fillings. It’s ok to admit that here. I won’t tell anyone, I promise!
I know I sure have.
Everything is going according to plan, you’ve made an awesome pie crust – the best you’ve ever made actually.
The fruit is mixed, maybe cooked for a bit on the stove, and you put it all together, and pop it into the oven.
And then you hold your breath.
I’ve been there! Hoping beyond hope that when your lovely pie cools (well almost cools, cause you just can’t wait).
You slice into it and….
YUCK! Strawberry Rhubarb soup!
If you’ve had this experience, and I can assure you that every baker, no matter what their experience level is, has, then stick around.
Pour a cup of your favorite tea or coffee or whatever and then let’s spend a few minutes talking about how easily your baking blunder can be fixed, OK?
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And we’ve also created a helpful cheatsheet that will cover all of our tips that you can download and print out and keep handy for the next time that you bake a pie.
In this post we will cover:
- Thickening agents
- Oven Temperature and Times
- Pie plates – size does matter!
A little background about Fruit Pies….
Fruit pies are one of the easiest types of pie to make believe it or not.
After you’ve made your pie crust, it’s really just a matter of making the pie filling, and putting the pie together.
Be sure to check out our pie crust recipes, how to make pie crust in the food processor. And then we have our Cornerstone post (create a clickable photo image – and signup for ebooks)
Once you have your pie crust made rolled out and fluted into your favorite pie baking dish mixing up the filling can go one of two ways
- Using fresh fruit, It can be like making your favorite jam
- Or you can use frozen fruit and achieve spectacular results!
I’ve had great success using frozen fruit. I use frozen sour cherries in my ever popular cherry pie recipe.
Thousands and thousands of people have downloaded this recipe, or pinned it to Pinterest. It is just so easy and so delicious.
And that’s the beauty of fruit pies is that you can bake them and serve them all year round now.
I think back in the day, it was summertime dessert, to make a fresh fruit pie, because that’s when berries and peaches, all the different types of fruits, were available.
But today, with having fresh fruit trucked in from all over the continent, or using fresh, frozen fruits, (and these are fruits that have been flash frozen and they don’t have any sugar or syrup added to them) are just so easy to use.
So I want to take you through all the different methods and the things that I’ve learned throughout the years (over 40+ years as a baker!)
I have a collection of recipes to share with you that I know you’re going to love, and some of them have videos as well. And that’s always fun because then we get to bake together.
So let’s get started shall we?
To thicken or not to thicken – why is my pie filling running off the plate?
When you’re baking with fresh fruit one of the things to consider is that fruit has a lot of water content. So you want to make sure that you’ve drained it as much as possible.
So, one of the tips I use and I talk about it in my strawberry pie recipe is to make sure that you’ve not only drained the strawberries but that you also include and and you crusha small amount of crushed berries.
In that particular recipe, I use 4 cups of berries and 1 cup of crushed (or mashed) strawberries.
And then mix the crushed berries in with your thickener, according to the recipe – usually cooked on the stove top until the mixture thickens.
In my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe, and many other fruit pie recipes, I use corn starch, a traditional thickening agent.
It’s easy to measure out and use. Tip: be sure to check the expiry date on your cornstarch. Many of us don’t use corn starch very often, so it can expire before the next time you need it!
For the strawberry rhubarb pie recipe, the cornstarch is mixed in with the strawberry rhubarb mixture, sugar and other ingredients and it’s left to stand 20 minutes before putting the fruit into the pie shell.
I’ve had great success using corn starch, and so many of my readers have too.
Another thickener that is very popular when baking fruit pies especially is tapioca powder (often called tapioca starch) as it creates a clear texture and doesn’t cloud your pie filling.
Also the thickening properties as it cooks are very similar to corn starch.
Tapioca is great for thickening dishes that will be frozen as well.
A well baked pie takes lots of heat, the right amount of time and restraint….
The 2nd fail-proof pie baking tip is oven temperature and time to bake.
I’m including a link on how to calibrate your oven.
And this is something that I used to teach my students years ago when I was teaching pie baking courses.
Everyone’s oven is different.
When you pick up a cookbook or a recipe, or you’re on a blog like You Can Live Rich On Less and you’re in the pie section you see that I’m recommending you start off with an oven temp of 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
You want to be sure that your oven is heating to the same 450 degrees Fahrenheit temperature
The information is going to show you how to calibrate your oven, it’s very easy, and then going forward you know you’ll be baking at a true temperature.
All pies are to be baked in the bottom third of the oven. What does that mean? Well just move the top rack down one level and you should be fine. This little graphic will help too.
Whenever I bake a fruit pie, and this is particularly true with any type of fruit pie filling that has a lot of moisture, you always want to start the pie off in a very hot oven.
Depending on the recipe it could be anywhere from 400F to 425F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then lower the oven temperature to the one stated in the recipe – maybe it’s 350F or 375F .
The recipe may tell you 45 to 55 minutes – maybe longer.
And the reason that I say you will want to cook longer, you need to let the fruit bubble up and raise a bit, then it will drop down. That’s how you will know the pie is fully baked.
To keep your pie crust from overbaking, you can use a pie shield.
And put a foil tray in the bottom of your oven before you get started. Fruit pies always run over. It’s the law of averages!
Now is the time for restraint. Once you take your pie out of the oven you need to leave it alone. Seriously. Wait at least 4 hours.
Why? The fruit filling will still be thickening as it cools. So very very important.
So many bakers cook for exactly what’s shown in the recipe. Use the exact baking times. Pull out the pie. Don’t let it cool.
And they’re so excited to taste this wonderful thing that they’ve created this wonderful fruit pie cherry pie or strawberry rhubarb pie,
But they’re in such a hurry to get that slice of pie out. That one. They haven’t let it cook long enough or let the pie cool.
And you know what happens right? Yep. Strawberry rhubarb soup.
Or a soggy bottom as the British baking show calls it!
A bit long winded to be sure, but oh so important. So that’s why baking times and temperatures are very important.
Pie plates – Glass, ceramic or cast iron? And size really does matter!
The next thing we’re going to talk about is the size of your baking dish.
There are a number of baking dishes you can use to bake your fruit pie recipes in.
And I’m going to talk about three.
#1 The first one I’m going to talk about is using a cast iron skillet.
Cast iron pie baking became really popular a few years ago when there were recipes everywhere about chocolate chip cookie pies. We have one of those on the blog as well and it is delicious.
But I have used my cast iron skillet successfully for many fruit pies, including the peach mango sangria fruit pie, the peach pie filling is just amazing.
The skillet becomes incredibly hot and it’s almost like a convection oven. And so it evenly bakes that pie and pie crust.
It’s just such a satisfactory and delicious result. It’s my number one favorite thing to make pie.
You know I haven’t used it when making strawberry rhubarb pie and I’m going to try that because I think it would make a huge difference.
#2 The second type of pie baking dish that I use is just a Pyrex a glass pie plate.
And these are so affordable and popular, I think Pyrex is a brand name, but it’s just a glass baking dish for pies.
They are easy to use, easy to clean up, they convect heat evenly.
They come in many different sizes, but the most common are the 9” regular pie plate and the 9.5″ deep dish pie plate.
#3 Aside from the cast iron skillet, is to use a ceramic pie baking dish.
And there are some beautiful dishes out there. I think the ceramic helps the pie to bake more evenly, and it is certainly beautiful to look at.
And presentation is important too right? You know when you’re serving your pie to your family and friends, it looks amazing.
And I like this one in particular because it has a fluted edge so that you can shape your pastry dough right into those flutes in the dish and serve your pie from that and it’s so popular.
You could also use aluminum pie tins. If you were baking your pie to give away as a gift and you don’t want to worry about getting your dish back. I do that all the time.
So these are a number of different baking dishes that you can try. I’ve linked all of these products for you so that you can check them out yourself.
Size does matter!
But in addition to the type of baking dish for pies that you use, the size is very important.
Pie recipes are typically made or developed for the smallest pie plate, and that’s usually the nine inch unless it says otherwise.
For example “This recipe is for a deep dish pie, or it says within the recipe that you need a deep dish pie crust”
Unless that is stated, then you can be pretty much guaranteed that it’s going to be for the smaller 9”pie plate.
Now what many bakers and readers have shared with me, is that when they made their pie following a recipe, there wasn’t enough fruit.
And that’s the reason why.
They probably used their favorite pie plate, maybe it was their mom’s or their grandma’s that they had in the house. Because their pie plate was bigger than 9” they ended up without enough fruit pie filling.
So, typically a nine inch pie plate will take about four cups of fruit. If your recipe calls for four cups of fruit. And you’ve got a 10 inch, maybe even 11” deep dish pie plate. You won’t have enough fruit.
So you’re actually going to have to adjust the amount of fruit. Often it will require doubling, and that’s not a hard thing to do. You can do that.
The fruit should be mounded in the centre of the pie crust. Remember it will cook down as the juices evaporate in the oven.
Just make sure that you adjust your sugar, and your thickener as well.
Now go bake your own delicious fruit pie!
And that’s all there is to it. Three simple fail-proof tips that will help you achieve pie baking success in no time.
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