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pie crust tip--has anyone heard of this?

Yesterday I caught the tail end of a public television program which I think was about food/cooking in Wisconsin. The woman featured on the program was making a rhubarb pie. She said after she places the bottom crust in the pie pan, she pours a half cup of sugar over it. She said the sugar will caramelize during baking and prevent the bottom crust from getting soggy. Has anyone ever done this? How does it work? Oh, one more thing---I think she said she preheats the oven to 450 degrees then turns it down to 375 when she puts the pie in.

Thanks.

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  1. I just don't think this would make any difference, other than sweetening the filling. Rhubarb, especially, has so much liquid in it that it will just dissolve the sugar into the filling - caramelization won't happen. Either you misunderstood what the person said, or she is just wrong.

    1. Did she blind bake it w/ the sugar or just add the filling on top of the sugar?

      2 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Good question. That might make a difference. But even so, does the relatively short baking time of an empty pie crust allow the sugar to caramelize? Also I always have to weight an empty crust with beans or whatnot before baking - so it's never really empty.

        1. re: Nyleve

          I was thinking high heat, plus the sugar might make it caramelize. Even if it has weights on it, it's not a wet filling that might absorb the sugar. But, I'm not sure how much difference that would make. I've heard of painting melted white chocolate on the bottom after blind baking but when I took a pie class, the instructor didn't like that idea because it adds a hard layer to the pie.

      2. It won't caramelize unless you blind bake it and if you do blind bake it you won't need a caramelized bottom.

        1. I have never heard of this, but I have heard of painting the bottom crust with apricot preserves that have been melted so as to make them spreadable. The theory being that the preserves create a barrier between the filling and the crust. Generally, I don't have a problem with soggy bottom crusts. I think it's because I use pyrex pans that seem to promote browning. Also, you can see how brown your bottom crust has gotten.

          2 Replies
          1. re: roxlet

            Wouldn't the apricot preserve soak into the crust and make it soggy just as the filling could? I place my pie on a baking stone (that I leave in the oven) and that gets it crusty.

            1. re: chowser

              I never tried RLB's tip, but then I never have any problems with my bottom crust browning. I find using pyrex pans helps this.

          2. I've read in RLB's Pie and Pastry Bible that you can apply a thin layer of egg white to a blind baked crust to keep it from getting soggy, I've never heard of using sugar though. Of course, none of that applies to a two crust pie, it seems like the sugar would dissolve and add more liquid to your filling.

            1 Reply
            1. re: zitronenmadchen

              I have used the egg white "sealant" for the bottom layer of a two crust pie. The hint was provided by Carole Walter in her Great Pies and Tarts book.

              It does seen to work, especially for apple pies. I imagine that pies with very liquid fillings may still be troublesome.