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Sugar on Top of Pie Crust?

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Do you put sugar on top of your pie dough before baking? If so, what kind of sugar are you using? Are you brushing the crust first with cream (or something else) before sprinkling? Does the sugar affect the baking in anyway?

I recently took a pie making class and they did not sprinkle sugar on the crust. I'm wondering if this is just a personal preference or is there a benefit to having the sugar and if the recipe is adjusted in anyway. Thank you!

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  1. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't - no adjustment is needed to the recipe. Brush the crust with whatever you like (I usually use egg white) and then sprinkle lightly with regular granulated sugar. You could probably use fancy/colored sanding sugar too, if you wanted a specific look.

    3 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      Does the sugar help keep the crust from getting soggy? Is there a benefit to how the crust will turn out if there is sugar on it?

      1. re: DaisyM

        No, I don't think it keeps the crust from getting soggy - I just do it for looks. I have read that some people brush their bottom crust with a thin layer of melted white chocolate to keep it from getting soggy - I've never tried it but it sounds like a good trick, as long as you don't mind the flavor of white chocolate in your pie.

      2. re: biondanonima

        I do. I brush it with egg white and use turbonado (sp?) sugar. It's marketed as sugar-in-the-raw, although I don't know how 'raw' it is. I hear they add mollassas (again, sp?) after the refining process. I like it because of the large crystals and the blonde color.
        ...And as an aside while discussing sugar and pies... The best blueberry pie I ever had as a kid had a nice layer of refined sugar on top of the bottom crust and under the blueberry filling and baked within. As an adult I always toss in somewhere between a quarter and half cup of sugar on the base before I add the filling. In retrospect, my first experience was probably an error by the baker. My guess is that he/she forgot to add sugar to the filling and simply tossed it on the bottom and thought "Hell, they won't notice the difference."

      3. yes, I do like it. I use large sugar crystals, first paint with cream or egg and water.
        For me it just adds a nice crunch of sugar, you don't have to over do it.

        6 Replies
        1. re: chef chicklet

          Sorry for asking such specific questions! But I'm going to make an apple and cherry pie this weekend and it still feels like I'm in chemistry lab in college. If I add sugar to the crust then should I slightly reduce the amount of sugar in the filling? Thank you.

          1. re: DaisyM

            No - it's not that much sugar on the top of the crust (well, it shouldn't be...)

            It's only there for a little bit of crunch, and because it looks pretty when it sparkles.

            1. re: DaisyM

              if its a full top crust, I will usually brush with cream and add a sprinkle of sugar - solely for the crunch. Its not an appreciable amount of sugar (maybe a tsp) in comparison to the total amount in the pie. Its also not enough to change the savory nature of the crust, which contrasts with the sweet filling so Id say definitely no need to adjust.

              1. re: jen kalb

                So, I'll put the sugar on the apple pie and leave it off of the cherry since that is going to be a lattice top. I'll be so happy if these turn out well. I just had 10lbs of frozen cherries from a farm in Michigan delivered. I hope the neighbors like cherry pie! Thanks for your help.

                1. re: DaisyM

                  I've sprinkled sugar on a lattice-topped pie. Works just fine. You're not adding enough sugar to change the taste of the filling, so don't worry about getting sugar on the exposed pie filling. And it's very pretty.

              2. re: DaisyM

                IMHO you should reduce the sugar because usually the recipe calls for too much! That's just my personal taste. But either way a bit of sugar on the crust won't make a difference. It's completely your preference, as is the egg or milk wash thing. It's just about how you like the crust.

                And by the way, I get that you haven't made many pies so you want to make sure you're doing it right -- but there really isn't any one right way to do it or any one fool-proof recipe. Since every batch of fruit is different, the amount of sugar and thickener you might need for your perfect pie will vary -- therefore you can adjust these things according to taste. Making the filling of a fruit pie is not like making a cake, which needs precise measurements. Think of it more like making apple sauce and adding sugar & spices to your own taste.

                Apple and sour cherry pies are just about two of the best desserts on earth, so have fun and enjoy baking pies!

            2. I brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over it. I makes a nice crunchy top crust for apple pie

              1. Cooks Ill says the sugar helps with browning, along with brushing it with beaten egg (which browns better than cream. I like the regular sugar better than the sanding sugar (I don't like the crunches when I bite into the big sugar crystals). A tip: don't brush/sugar the crust edge - that will caramelized well enough without the added help.

                1. I do for apple pies always. I don't do it because it keeps the crust from getting soggy, but I do love the taste of a piece of crust that has a nice crunch and sweetness from sugar. Just beat an egg and brush it on top of the pie, then sprinkle with regular or vanilla sugar before baking!

                  1. It's totally a personal preference. Egg white gives the crust a glazed look and milk/cream w/sugar (any type) sprinkled results in a different, but equally attractive presentation. No need to adjust any recipie sugar amounts because the topping amount is miniscule. Neither approach aids in browning the crust, but appear to because their own "browning" adds an attractive touch to the final product. Now all this pie talk has me inspired to get going on my own holiday baking! Have fun.