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Summer fruit pie S.O.S.

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I need tips on how to keep the fruit in my pies from making so much juice. I've tried adding corn starch and/or flour, but every time I end up with a crust full of juice. Still tastes good, but the crust gets soggy so fast that if the pie doesn't get completely consumed the first day, it becomes totally disgusting. Also, not so good for serving to guests. This problem is especially bad with peach pie and blueberry pie. Help!

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  1. Tuki, am very interested in your replies. Yesterday I made the Barefoot Contessa fruit crostata, which is a basic pie dough recipe filled with a mixture of peaches, plums & blueberries with a streusel topping. Have made this before, however, was serving large group and used whole amount of dough to make giant crostata (12-14 in across). Everything seemed fine until I tried to get it off the silpat/baking sheet and it broke in pieces. I used the flour, sugar and lemon juice/zest called in the recipe. What's up?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Diane in Bexley

      Let the fruit sit after you've mixed it with the sugar for a couple of hours. It should create an enormous amount of liquid that you can drain off.

      1. re: MarkC

        Yeah, macerating the fruit always pulls the juice out of it. That way you won't have a soggy pie. :-)

        1. re: MarkC

          But save those juices to pour over some vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Also a great addition to any fruit smoothie. Just beware how much sugar you are consuming, and then ignore to eat.

          Thinking some more... couldn't those juices be reduced to a syrup and then used as an ingredient in a finish sauce for roasted meats?

          1. re: MarkC

            Take that liquid,reduce it gently.Thicken if needed with starch of your choice.I prefer tapioca starch,but all are created equal here if used properly.Place fruit solids in a well chilled crust(cold),gently add the thick
            syrup.Bake as usual,let rest until cool prior to cutting.
            Also try a "HOT" 450' f oven for the first 10 or 15 minutes on a low/lowest
            shelf,then return to "recipe" temperature.

          2. re: Diane in Bexley

            I don't know...I've never used silpat, but I hear it's wonderful. Crusts are so tempermental and sensitive to humidity and such. I've always had success with single crust, struesel-topped fruit pies. It's when I add the top crust that I get the fruit soup fiascos. Your pie filling sounds awesome, by the way! I forgot to add in my original post that I did macerate the peaches in sugar for a little over an hour and drained the juice, then added corn starch and lemon. I'll definitely try the tapioca and reducing the juice.

          3. Maybe this will help. I make a frangipane recipe from David Lebovitz's "Room for Desert" that is just the thing to spread on tart and pie dough to prevent the dough from getting soggy. I reduce the amount of sugar he uses, since his version is too sweet. Almond paste is 50% sugar anyway. It's very easy to make. Here's my adapted version:

            Ingredients: 3 ounces of almond paste, 3 tbl of butter at room temp; 1/2 tsp of sugar, 1&1/2 tsp of flour and 1 egg. Mix all ingredients except the egg together in a mixing bowl. Then beat in the egg until all is mixed well. Use right away of put in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temp before using. Spread on the bottom of the pie or fruit tart dough before adding your fruit mixture. The almond paste I find comes in 8 ounce sizes.

            1. Check out "The Pie and Pastry Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. For most fruit pies she has a method of macerating the fruit with sugar to release the juices, then boiling down and reducing the juices to a syrup and then mixing back into the fruit before filling the pie shell. She also has a website that has a few recipes, as well as baking tips.

              5 Replies
              1. re: gmm

                I've used Rose's method, and it is very effective. She also suggests painting the bottom of the crust with melted apricot jelly to create a barrier between the fruit and the crust. She also freezes the pie first and then bakes it on a pizza stone to make sure the bottom gets crispy. I don't really do any of this any more. I find that a pyrex pie pan helps the bottom crust crisp up, and that tapioca flour (available from the King Arthur Flour web site), is very effective as a thickener. If you drain the berries a bit first, it should help too.

                1. re: gmm

                  Tuki,gmm & roxlet

                  here is a very recent Rose Levy Berenbaum article,I hope the links help



                  she is hands on with film 16 July,2008 in the Washington Post Food & Dining
                  section(a sub-section of Arts&Leisure)

                  1. re: lcool

                    Thanks for the recommendations for Rose's pies. I made the peach filling from the post recipe this morning, and it was terrific. I didn't reduce the juices for the full twelve minutes, but just until they were thickened (maybe six minutes or so).

                    Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and used a frozen Oronoque crust, and then overbaked the pie so the crust was a bit bitter. The filling was the best I've made, though, and it will be my go-to for peach pie. I'm looking forward to trying the cream cheese pie crust next time, and also for using the juice reduction technique for other fruits.

                    1. re: bear

                      Glad to hear it.We are finishing up the peach season.RLB's crust can
                      be frozen,well wrapped for 30-60 days,as can VODKA dough.Getting
                      a jump on the crust,2 or 3 at a time makes life easier at this house.The
                      new go to recipe around here for VODKA dough,crust will be the one in the one in the July & August issue of COOK'S ILLUSTRATED.Two
                      family 12 year olds nailed the blueberry pie recipe it comes with this
                      past Friday,first try. http://www.cooksillustrated.com HOW TO MAKE
                      Blueberry Pie.It is available in the open/free part of the recipe archive.

                      1. re: lcool

                        Thanks, lcool. I have an online membership to CI, so I can navigate without a problem. I haven't gotten around to trying the vodka dough. I've been determined to get my all-butter crust to be both tender and flaky at the same time, but to no avail. I've decided to concede defeat and try a mixture of shortening and butter next time to increase the tenderness.

                        In a happy coincidence, a family member gave us a gallon ziploc bag full of fresh blueberries yesterday, so a pie should be in my future within a week. I like the idea of mashing and cooking some of the berries first to deepen the flavors. I think my husband would travel to the ends of the earth for a good blueberry pie, so he'll be a happy man. He did manage to happily scarf down a few pieces of the peach pie.

                        I should make two batches of vodka crust and stick one in the freezer to avoid the last-minute need for a frozen crust. Thanks for the tips. I'll report back.

                        Here, here to the budding chow pie bakers! That's awesome, since so many experienced adult cooks are intimidated by a from-scratch pie, and the world needs more good pie!

                2. One thing I've found in using my peaches each summer is to peel and slice the peaches and then let them sit for a while on a counter --at least an hour --and a bunch of juice will separate out, which I pour out. Otherwise there is too much liquid and my pies and cobblers just swim away.

                  1. buzz two or three tablespoons of tapioca in a spice grinder and add to pie. much better than flour. also, if you have time, let the pies completely cool (even overnight) then reheat a little before serving, gives them time to firm up

                    1. A bakery trick I learned was to lightly brush the bottom of the pie crust with egg wash, and let it dry before putting in the fruit mixture. And though I have no scientific basis for this, in my experience, using frozen fruit seems to make a much better, less soupy pie. I freeze my good fresh berries and fruit, and toss them frozen with the flour, sugar, etc., plunk into my egg-washed pie and never get a soggy crust.

                      1. I don't have a baking stone, but over the years have picked up and adapted a few tricks from Cooks Illustrated - a pyrex pie pan is best for achieving a nicely browned bottom crust. I line a heavy sheet pan with tin foil or parchment, put it into the oven before preheating, and then place the pie upon it. This gives the bottom of the pan a quick temperature boost. Lining the sheet pan eliminates the need to scrub off bubbled-over juices. CI doesn't usually promote tapioca but I like its thickening properties. I whirl it in the food processor to make it finer so it thickens faster/better. All that said, despite the nostalgic appeal of a double-crust fruit pie, I've come to realize that I prefer free-form tartlets. I use the rim of a 4-cup Rubbermaid container (about 6" diameter) as a cutter for the dough, which yields 4" diameter individual-serving tartlets. This means a browner (therefore tastier and crisper) crust, and the absence of the top crust means extra reduction of fruit juice into a rich syrupy glaze.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          also, instead of a full top crust, try a lattice, or use cookie cutters to make shapes out of the dough and put those on top, leaving space between.

                          the extra open spaces promote more reduction of the juices and you end up with a thicker filling. I prefer my blueberry and stone fruit pies with lattices now. also strawberry rhubarb.

                        2. One thing not mentioned in the comments thus far is that cornstarch needs to be heated to boiling to be activated. I don't find it necessary to reduce liquids or boil them separately, though. I just toss the fruit in a bit of sugar and let it drain for 15-30 minutes, then add a bit of cornstarch (2-3t), and cook at 450 for the first 10 minutes, reducing heat to 375 for remainder of baking. My formerly sloppy pies now come out great, even with the same "recipe"!