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Peach pie that isn't soggy

debbiel Jul 25, 2010 12:44 PM

Somehow I managed to live in SC for 7 years, baking plenty of pies, eating plenty of 2 napkin peaches, but never making a peach pie. I just picked 10 pounds and am going to put a dent in those by making a pie. I know friends have often struggled with soggy, runny peach pie, despite using corn starch or tapioca or flour or whatever their thickener of choice for other fruit pies.

Any tips for me to avoid a soggy, runny peach pie?

  1. m
    Muskrat Jul 25, 2010 12:55 PM

    America's Test Kitchen handled this. It's "premium content" now -- you have to pay to get in -- but their "secret" is the use of tapioca as a thickener. Someone else here can probably help further, if you can't take it from there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Muskrat
      debbiel Jul 25, 2010 01:06 PM

      Thank you muskrat. I have a friend who can access the premium content. I'll have her look for it if greygarious' tips don't work on pie #1.

    2. greygarious Jul 25, 2010 01:00 PM

      I'm in the tapioca camp. But first, toss your sliced peaches with sugar and put them in a colander over a bowl for at least a half hour. Then in a pan or microwave, boil down the juices to reduce by half. Return peaches and juices to bowl, stir in your thickener and any spices or lemon you may want to use. While this is going on, put a foil or parchment-lined sheet pan in your oven as you preheat it to 375. When your pie is assembled, bake it on the preheated sheet. It will catch any spill-over and more importantly, jumpstart the bottom crust so it is nice and brown. Use the maceration/reduction technique for any very juicy fruits. Some recipes call for cooking some or all of the fruit first to reduce the liquid in it but that means little or no distinct pieces of fruit in the finished pie.

      If you aren't reducing first, do a rustic tart instead of a double crust. Roll out to half again the diameter you want the tart to be, mound on the sweetened fruit tossed with thickener, to that lesser diameter, then fold over the outer border of dough, pleating it as you go, to cover the outer area. There will be more evaporation from the uncovered area of fruit than with a two crust pie.

      6 Replies
      1. re: greygarious
        debbiel Jul 25, 2010 01:02 PM

        Thank you greygarious!

        1. re: greygarious
          sbp Jul 27, 2010 11:50 AM

          That's the way to go. PS: Cooks Illustrated powdered the tapioca pearls in a coffee grinder first. I do half and half. Also, seal the bottom crust - for peaches, I'd brush with either egg whites or melted white chocolate before adding the filling.

          1. re: sbp
            Sam D. Jul 29, 2010 08:11 PM

            Tapioca starch can be found in most Asian markets. Then you can save yourself the chore of grinding the tapioca pearls.

          2. re: greygarious
            Funwithfood Aug 21, 2010 03:24 PM

            Great advise.

            I've got some nice peaches and am considering making my first peach pie. So, reduce the juices, blind bake (what do y'all prefer to put on the crust when blind baking?) and add tapioca (in what ratio to the amount of fruit?)

            This Food Network recipe got rave reviews:

            1. re: Funwithfood
              Caitlin McGrath Aug 21, 2010 06:22 PM

              If you scroll down to the post by gmm, s/he includes a link to the detailed recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum using this technique, with all the ingredient amounts and instructions.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                Funwithfood Aug 21, 2010 09:12 PM

                Yes, I found that as I went on and copied it, a nice detailed description.

          3. roxlet Jul 25, 2010 01:35 PM

            I just read something somewhere -- hmmmm -- anyway, they suggested that you blind bake the pie, then, once the bottom crust is cooled, add the fruit and a top crust and bake again. Apparently, this guarantees a crisp bottom crust. I usually find that thickening with tapioca flour and baking in a Pyrex pie pan usually work really well.

            5 Replies
            1. re: roxlet
              bushwickgirl Jul 25, 2010 01:56 PM

              Yes, blind baking the bottom crust, then grey's juicing instructions, along with using tapioca, not cornstarch, a glass pie plate for good browning and use a pie bird (those things really work for preventing boiling juice spill over).

              1. re: bushwickgirl
                roxlet Jul 25, 2010 02:34 PM

                Really? Those work? I just thought it was cutesy pie.

                1. re: roxlet
                  bushwickgirl Jul 25, 2010 03:20 PM

                  Nope, they're good. Plus cute.

                2. re: bushwickgirl
                  ipsedixit Jul 25, 2010 07:09 PM

                  Aside from blind baking, you can also use an egg white wash on the bottom of your pie crust.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    Funwithfood Aug 21, 2010 03:29 PM

                    I've heard of that, but wouldn't the crust need to be baked a bit before adding the filling?

              2. gmm Jul 25, 2010 08:27 PM

                I haven't made a peach pie in years, but I've had good luck with Rose Levy Berenbaum's recipe. It involves macerating the peaches with sugar and draining off and reducing the juices, and adding back to peaches before baking.


                1. d
                  debbiel Jul 26, 2010 09:59 PM

                  Thank you everyone! I went with greygarious' idea to macerate the peaches first and then reduce the juices. I would have done the pre-baking of the bottom crust, but I hadn't checked back here before assembling. It turned out fairly well. It was a little bit runny, but not too much saw (and I used very, very, very ripe peaches, so I'm not sure a little runny wasn't going to happen). I did not try it (sent it to work with my husband), but it got great reviews. He said the crust was not quite as good as usual but not soggy.

                  I'll probably try again this weekend and will do the pre-baking this time.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: debbiel
                    greygarious Jul 27, 2010 08:42 AM

                    You may want to use half again the amount of tapioca if the fruit is super-juicy. I would paint the raw bottom crust with egg white before pre-baking. I've never pre-baked the bottom shell because between using a pyrex pan and a preheated sheet pan beneath it, I get good bottom crusts. If the bottom crust is already baked, how do you achieve a good seal between the top and bottom crusts, and an attractively-crimped edge?

                    I can't imagine having enough restraint not to have a slice of a pie I baked myself! Hats off to you. I suggest you try the free-form rustic style (a.k.a. crostata, croustade) if you have some leftover dough. I am sentimentally attached to the tradition of the double-crust pie, but for texture and flavor I really do prefer an individual rustic tartlet, A 6" diameter circle of dough makes a 3+ inch finished one, just the right portion, and takes less time (about 25 min) to bake.

                    1. re: greygarious
                      roxlet Jul 27, 2010 10:32 AM

                      I agree with you about the pie not having the seal, but when I have raised this question in the past, everyone pooh-poohed me. The pie that I saw somewhere had overlapping circles of dough as a top crust with a blind baked bottom. I suppose the net effect would be similar to a lattice pie.

                      1. re: roxlet
                        Caitlin McGrath Jul 28, 2010 09:16 PM

                        roxlet, I believe you're thinking of this piece on sour cherry pie with twice-baked crust (top crust in circle cut-outs): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/din...

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          roxlet Jul 29, 2010 05:37 AM

                          Thanks, Caitlin! You're absolutely right. This was the recipe I saw. I am definitely tempted to try it next time I make a pie -- and considering that I have some very ripe peaches on hand, that may be very soon!

                      2. re: greygarious
                        gfr1111 Jul 29, 2010 06:30 AM


                        I am surprised by your suggestion of a Pyrex pie pan. I thought that glass was less conducive of heat than metal (aluminum, in particular) and, therefore, a crust baked in a Pyrex pan would be less crisp than one done in metal. Obviously, you have found otherwise. Do you have any explanation as to why?

                        1. re: gfr1111
                          roxlet Jul 29, 2010 07:40 AM

                          I also use the Pyrex pans exclusively for my pie baking. I don't have a scientific explanation as to why they work as well as they do, but I'm pretty sure that they were the top rated pie plate by Cook's magazine some years ago. I have tried all sorts of metal pans including ones that are perforated, that are dark metal, that are heavy, and IMO, none perform as well as the Pyrex ones.

                          1. re: gfr1111
                            greygarious Jul 29, 2010 09:10 AM

                            Glass retains heat well, which makes it good for baking evenly. I don't know the science in detail but roxlet is correct that Cook's Illustrated confirmed what lots of long-time Pyrex pan fans already knew. Using the preheated sheet pan heats the pan up faster than just the oven rack can.

                          2. re: greygarious
                            Funwithfood Aug 21, 2010 03:37 PM

                            Greygarious Quote: "I've never pre-baked the bottom shell because between using a pyrex pan and a preheated sheet pan beneath it, I get good bottom crusts. If the bottom crust is already baked, how do you achieve a good seal between the top and bottom crusts, and an attractively-crimped edge?"
                            Oh darn, that is a problem. I'd like my pie to be photogenic! :) Perhaps your approach would work best asthetics-wise.

                        2. k
                          Krislady Jul 29, 2010 05:38 AM

                          I just heard a suggestion to use crumbled cookies (butter cookies, maybe, or ladyfingers?) in the bottom of a fruit tart to help absorb some of the juices before they reach the crust - I don't see why the same idea wouldn't work for a pie?

                          Then again, most of my pie-baking is restricted to family holidays, so. . .

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Krislady
                            rcallner Jul 29, 2010 10:44 AM

                            I always add something like that to my fruit pie crust bases - sometimes vanilla wafers, sometimes graham crackers, whatever's on hand that makes sense. Really helps the sog factor and can add a nice taste.

                            1. re: rcallner
                              Funwithfood Aug 21, 2010 03:34 PM

                              Interesting idea, but don't the cookie bits show when sliced?

                          2. Chocolatechipkt Jul 29, 2010 08:23 AM

                            I made a peach-raspberry pie last night, using cornstarch as a thickener. I didn't pre-bake the crust, but the pie wasn't soggy.

                            1. Emme Jul 30, 2010 03:42 PM

                              in case you try again, i was just listening to evan kleiman on KCRW's good food talking about this very issue. she was talking to deborah madison, who said she blind bakes her crusts, uses cornstarch, and also sprinkles the crust with leftover shortbread cookies or crumbled biscotti to absorb moisture...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Emme
                                Chocolatechipkt Jul 31, 2010 06:59 AM

                                I heard that too ... but somehow there are never leftover cookies around here! :b

                              2. p
                                Paperchasers Aug 6, 2010 02:54 AM

                                Funny, but I made a runny peach and blueberry pie just last night. I don't bother with a bottom crust for juicy fruit, neither do I use tapioca. I prefer my summer-ripe fruit with less going on in it. However, I do serve the drippy pie in a bowl, with a spoon, and a piece of the beautiful top crust. Every last drop gets slurped up this way.

                                1. i
                                  irishbirdie May 8, 2013 07:38 PM

                                  I'm going to do a double crust and put crushed ginger snaps on bottom crust before peaches. Since these seal-a-meal peaches are very very juicy, will macerate and reduce syrup before building pie. I always use cornstarch, as I prefer the look and consistency. The more juice, the more corn starch. I thoroughly vent the pie with lots of slits and start with a very hot hot oven 475 for 15 minutes, then to 350 without opening door. May need crust guard if too brown. I think a real key too is not to cut the pie too soon. While it cools, it really thickens up. Doesnt seem to do the same if I cut too soon. Been baking pies for 30 years. Always enjoy the challenge of each batch of fruit. Always something new.

                                  1. s
                                    sandylc May 8, 2013 09:37 PM

                                    My grandmother made the very best peach cobbler. She rolled her crust very thick and lined an oblong glass baking dish with it. She tossed her peaches with sugar and flour and put them in the crust and topped it with random pieces of leftever pie dough. Then she baked the whole mess the same way she baked everything else; at 500 degrees! The bottom of the crust was golden brown and crisp and the inside of the bottom crust was gloriously gooey with yummy peach juice.....and she was famous for it!

                                    Don't try this at home - ha....

                                    Don't add too much extra stuff, and don't be afraid to bake it long enough; an albino pie is not good.

                                    1. j
                                      JudiAU May 9, 2013 09:01 PM

                                      I can't believe no one has mentioned the "Pie Bible" version. Fabulous and tedious method of cooking down the juice. Just wonderful.

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