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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?

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  1. Have you allowed the pie to cool before slicing into it? I've had that problem when I have been to eager to sample a slice and have not allowed it to cool.

    1 Reply
    1. re: morebubbles

      Yeah. I initially thought that was the problem, but it seems to be soemthign else. In fact, the one I just made cooled overnight before I cut it.

    2. 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.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        The recipe I used for the most recent pie said 400 for 35 minutes. Perhaps heat and duration were also part of the problem.

        1. re: Avalondaughter

          I use the gold standard from "Joy of Cooking" 30 minutes at 425 then 30 - 45 at 350. Cool for at least 3 hours. I either use Fujis, a non-traditional apple for cooking, or Pink Ladies and have excellent results every time. Good luck.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lisbet

            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)

          2. 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?

            3 Replies
            1. re: willownt

              My crusts are pretty good on their own. My non-apple pies are good. I'm considered to be quite the pie queen in my family, which is why it's twice as upsetting that something so basic as an apple pie doesn't work for me.

                1. re: Avalondaughter

                  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.

              1. I found that cornstarch (about 3 tbls.) solved this problem for me. I mix it with the sugar and spices, then toss the apples in it. I got this idea off of the side of the cornstarch box a few years ago.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  I've been using flour, but maybe cornstarch is the way to go. I'll try it the next time.

                2. A metal pie tin with several holes in the bottom transformed my fruit pies from runny, soggy messes to delightfully crisp crusts and juicy, slices that transfer to plates with ease. I do not pre-bake the bottom crust or the apple filling. Another trick I learned was to slice the apples 1/4" thick- too thin & they will turn to mush. Several sources (JOC & Southern Living) highly recommend golden delicious apples as they are not too juicy or runny or mushy after baking.

                  The metal pie plate worked like a dream, though I did need to add a baking sheet to the shelf below so the butter from the crust wouldn't form a mess on the bottom of my oven.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tall sarah

                    i'm for pre-cooking the apples in with cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of bourbon. once they cook for 10 min or so i add in cornstarch diluted with a bit of water then cook that for another 5 min or so. good luck!

                  2. Like others here, I always use a cooked fruit filling for apple pies. Uncooked apples will shrink when baked, leaving a gap between the filling and the top crust plus you don't have any control over the consistancy of the finished filling. As for the botton crust, try placing a jelly roll pan upside down in the oven while it is preheating. When everything is hot bake your pie on top of the jelly roll pan, the residual heat will set the bottom crust quickly. A pizza stone also works, but you run the risk of cracking the stone when the cold pie is put on the hot stone.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LabRat

                      My stones have never cracked, even after 9 yrs of cooking hundreds of pies on them. However, I do preheat them (topped with a baking sheet) to 425 degrees for an hour before putting the pie on them, then reducing the heat to 375 after 30 min. The baking sheet is just for catching drips.

                      Some apples are wetter than others, so I mix at least 3 varieties together, cook them slightly, reduce the juices and toss back into the apples along with a little cornstarch. It's an art as well as a science, since apples vary so much from pie to pie. Good luck!

                    2. I don't precook the apples, but dump them in a plastic bag with the sugar (and a little salt), cinnamon, for an hour or so. Then I pour off all the juice and boil it down to a syrup. Use tapioca for the thickener, but whirl it in a spice grinder so I don't have those large pearls.

                      My crust is never soggy on the bottom -- I use 2 techniques (depending on how I feel). The egg white wash on the bottom crust works pretty well. Even better, melt white or dark chocolate with a little butter, then coat the bottom of the crust with it (I use a flexible spatula to spread the chocolate as thinly as possible). Refrigerate for just a few minutes. The crust will be crisp, stay crisp for days. The dark chocolate flavors the pie a bit more than the white, so go with your preference.

                      1. First of all, are you venting your pie? meaning putting slits into the crust before putting into the oven? This will release trapped steam which may be the cause of your problem. A lattice crust will also help steam escape, making your pie less soggy.

                        From what you are saying I think your apples and crust may be the problem. If the top crust crumbles when you cut in, it could be the apples have cooked down a lot, leaving an air pocket and making your crust crumble. For pies, I always use my gold standard, half Granny Smiths, half golden delicious. Granny Smiths tend to be a drier apple and therefore do not get soggy. The Golden Delcious adds a hint of sweetness, so you don't have to use too much sugar.

                        I use about 8 medium sized apples for one 9" deep dish pie. I usually add about 1 1/2 cups of sugar, for a slightly tarter pie, plus a HEAPING 1/4 cup cornstarch. I find cornstarch to be the best thickener.

                        Mix the cornstarch with the sugar in bowl before adding to your sliced apples; apples should be sliced fairly thin, about 1/4". A splash of vanilla is nice as well. Stir well. When putting the apples into your bottom crust, stack the slices tightly, so that the apples are distributed evenly, and mounded evenly. Any juices leftover in the bowl, discard, then apply the top crust.

                        Put the pie in the middle rack in a preheated 425F oven for 15 minutes. This bakes the bottom crust quickly, reducing a need to prebake the bottom crust. It also will make your crust flake nicely. Then, reduce the heat to 400F for 15 minutes. Finally, bake the pie until done at 350F. I find for my oven, a 9" deep dish pie will take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Runny pie could also be from the filling not cooked completely. Make sure your pie is cooked all the way through by inserting a knife into the centre into the filling. If you pull it out and touch it and it is hot, your filling is cooked all the way through. Also, if the juices are bubbling in the vents, your pie is probably done.

                        The picture attached is a pie baked by a total pie neophyte that I coached over another message board to bake.

                        I hope this may help you, good luck!

                        1. Here is a really good read on Pie Making and Trouble Shooting Pies: