Creating a cohesive apple pie
It happens every time.
I roll out a nice rich crust, I put the effort into peeling and slicing apples, I spice it all up nicely, and stick it in the oven.
My beautiful, good-smelling pie cools and is ready to cut. I make the first slice.
Juice runs everywhere. My top crust crumbles as I lift the slice onto a plate. The soggy bottom crust is still stuck to the bottom of the pie plate.
I've tried adding more flour. I've tried using different apple varieties. I've tried a couple of differnt types of pie plates. I can't seem to solve the runny pie problem. I can't create a pie that holds together even slightly.
What am I doing wrong? What can I do to remedy the situation?
I'm wondering about the temperature and length of time you bake the pie; also do you poke a few holes in the top crust to allow steam to escape??
My pies are baked at 375* for 45 minutes to one hour. Sometimes I carve a small circle in the middle of the top crust, sometimes just a few slits near the center. Macintosh or Cortlands are my apples of choice....no extra flower goes into the mix.
Have you tried precooking the apples slightly before adding them to the crust? That should take care of some of the runniness as there is less water to leach out. I wouldn't cook them until completely soft but rather keep an eye on them to see when water stops coming out. May want to even try draining them in a colander for a few minutes to get them extra dry.
What was the recipe for your filling? Did it include flour, cornstarch, or instant tapioca? These will all take up any extra juices from the fruit.
Also, the bottom crust for the pie....did you "dock" it with the tines of a fork? I always take an egg white; beat it up a little and brush on top of the bottom crust. Give it a chance to dry in the fridge before adding the filling. In addition I sprinkle a thin layer of dry, unflavored, white bread crumbs before adding filling (I'm insecure - like wearing suspenders and a belt at the same time, so I do both! LOL). After the pie is baked the bread crumbs become an integrated part of the pie and not at all discernable by taste nor appearance.
America's Test Kitchen also has a different approach to making a pie filling for their deep-dish pie. They cook the apples slightly, drain off the juice that results and thicken the juice seperately. It sounds like a pretty good method, although I have not yet tried it.
Before making the dough for the crust....I even chill the flour first. Butter has to be good and cold, too. Be sure to use ice cold water....or whatever liquid you use in the crust.
It sound like the ATK method is pretty similar to what I do (I'm not a member and can't see that recipe, so I can't vouch for absolute similarity), and I find it works very well to get rid of the extra juice and reduce the gap between the apples and the top crust.
Reducing the apple liquid also produces an extra intense almost caramelish apple flavor in the final pie. (I cook the liquid down pretty aggressively...it essentially turns into a *very* loose jelly with the pectin from the apples)
Have you considered making that open, free form type of thing, what's it called, a gallette? Those NEVER seem to get soggy. Might be a good start or at least a welcome break from the soggy situation you describe. Jacques Pepin talks about that, but it's all over the place. America's Test Kitchen alias Cook's Illustrated has their own take on it as well.
Perhaps because my apple pies seem to err on the side of being dry, I can't offer much, except that my mind thinks first of the variety of apples. Granny Smiths, for example, are just not very juicy. I just throw a dusting of flour on mine, with butter, sugar, and spices, and they are never very runny whatsoever. Hmm.
Additionally, how are your crusts on their own? Do they work for, say, a single crust, open faced thing, if you blind bake them, etc?
As already noted, you might try changing thickeners. One other thing-- maybe not cooking long enough. Apples that are naturally juicy may need more time. I try not to take it out until I can see through the steam vents the juice really bubbling away and starting to darken/caramelize in the pie. Also, the apples have more time to break down and soften, so they'll be more cohesive too. This often entails extra time with the crust covered/protected, but in the end, you may be better off.