The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pie Crust Superdome

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Pie Crust Superdome

I made two apple pies recently.

Both the pie filling and crust(s) recipe(s) come from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible. One crust was all butter. The other was flaky cream cheese, which she annotates as, "It took several years and over 50 tries to get it right and is the soul of this book". It is indeed a great crust, but I'm having problem with it (and the other crust as well).

The problem is stated thusly, "I fill the pies very full of apple pie filling such that there's a dome of fruit 3 inches high. I drap the pie crusts over the filling, seal the edges, brush with egg wash, cut a few slits in the top crust to let air escape, then bake at 425 F for 50-55 minutes. When the pie is baked, the filling is cooked down to about 2 inches, but the dome is still 3 inches, leaving a giant superdome full of air at the top of the pie. It's like the filling collapses, but the crust does not."

The crusts are high-fat (one all-butter, one butter-cream cheese). Very little liquid is used to bring the doughs together. The crusts have slits cut into them to let air escape, so I don't think it's a case of "inflation support", such that air inside is inflating the pie from within, holding the crust aloft.

The only thought that comes to mind is that 425 is too hot, so the crust is setting too quickly and setting hard, so it doesn't collapse (something I find strange considering how much enrichment these crusts have)?

It certainly makes a beautiful pie, but it looks ridiculous once cut with so much empty space between the filling and the crust.

Thoughts?

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

A few thoughts:

-You could try macerating your fruit longer so that it releases more juice before baking.

-You could try to wedge the apple slices in vertically so that they are tightly packed.

-I wouldn't try the lower oven temp as the apples don't give off liquid and compress/reduce until fairly late in the cooking process, so I'm thinking it may not help.  And you risk loosing the flakiness of the crust.

-The problem may be less noticeable with less fruit (it sounds like maybe you are using more fruit than the recipe calls for, is that right?)

-If you are determined to make a very deep dish apple pie, consider blind baking the top and bottom crust separately and cooking the apples stovetop- Shirley Corriher makes her deep dish apple pie this way in Cookwise.

-I make a deeper dish apple pie from RLB's open face recipe, layering some slices flat beneath the vertical slices.  This is baked without a top crust (apples form a flower shape) so there is no problem with shrinking fruit.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I'm using about 133% of her quantity for the filling.

I'll change how I add the filling to see if that helps. I'm just dumping it into the pie shell at present.

I did macerate for ~1 hour, so maybe longer? (I liked the step of draining the liquid and thickening it on the stove, almost like creating an apple caramel. Added a lot of flavour.)

plevee's picture
plevee

Is to precook the apples. I often cook them in a saute pan with sugar & butter until they are almost cooked & the juices are thick and syrupy. Then cool the filling, assemble the pie and bake. The apple shrinkage takes place before assembly, so there isn't a big empty space.

Patsy

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

The apples don't turn to mush?

Do you prebake the bottom crust?

plevee's picture
plevee

But don't take them all the way to done, just till they start to soften & reduce in volume. The pie doesn't take quite as long to  bake. I like lots of filling in my pies, too & with a big pie I was having a problem with some of the apples still being a bit hard.

No, I don't pre-bake the bottom crust. Jusy make sure the filling is cold before you assemble the pie.  I also use an egg in the pastry which gives a crisper crust & I think helps with preventing a soggy bottom.  Patsy

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I put the apples in a 6 Cup bowl and nuke them for 5 minutes, then into the crust. The warmed apples soften the top crust which sags while the apples finish cooking. I find I don't have to bake the pie as long and there is less over browning. The apples just get warmed up, not cooked. Works for me.

Eric

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

That might just do the trick.

Thank you.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

My new bride made an apple pie for dessert.  It was a beauty, standing high and proud!  When we cut into it, we found that the top crust could support itself even after being sliced.  The apples were at least an inch below the top of the dome.  It was delicious anyway.  I encouraged her to keep practicing and she's a very good pie-maker today.

In that specific case, I think two things happened.  We didn't have a rolling pin at the time, so she improvised with a straight-sided bottle.  Consequently, the crust was probably thicker than ideal.  I also suspect that the dough may have been handled more than it should have, making it tougher.  Put those two together and voila!  Structual pie crust!

Not sure if either of those factors were present for your pie.  Something to think about.

Paul

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I called it the Duomo dal Belvedere because the top crust was like a self-supporting dome.

I do tend to fuss a bit much with my pie crusts, not liking it when they split at the perimenter on rolling. I should do that less and just do a quick rollout.

(Incidentally, my partner suggested a solution or, rather, implemented it, by smushing the top down until it met the apples! Still tasted good, but my was it ugly.)

mimifix's picture
mimifix

The first few pies I ever made were like that. Then I learned.

Really, it's the apples. You need a good pie apple, the kind that holds it's shape and does not bake down. Not all varieties can retain their shape. Jonathan, Jonagold, Pippin, Gravenstein, Braeburn, Fuji, and Pink Lady apples are usually recommended. There are hundreds of varieties available, so do your research if you want to use other varieties. Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and MacIntosh are serial offenders. They bake down and become mealy/mushy.

I've baked and sold thousands of pies. I'm not a food scientist, but I've had years of on-the-job service. I'm now very choosy about my apples.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I usually skim over those paragraphs that recommend specific types of apple. I can never find the recommended cultivars in Colorado.

Granny Smith apples are easy to find, but an 'all Granny Smith' apple pie is too acidic.

This pie was ~60% Braeburn and ~40% Honeycrisp. 

(I should be ashamed of using an apple as perfect as a Honeycrisp for pie, but that's what I had on hand).

I'll pay more attention to the apples next time.

Thank you.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm guilty of the same indiscretion I'm afraid.You have just awakened my curiosity about apple pie apples. I'll have to try out this information this weekend. Thank you mimifx.

Eric

mimifix's picture
mimifix

Let me add one more comment about apple varieties. After I learned about pie apples and had far fewer problems, I also learned that for whatever reason (apples mislabeled, took bad advice from vendor who only wanted to get rid of his apples, the pie gods were angry) there are occasional mishaps. Because a bakery pie can generate disapproval from an irate customer, I learned that (1) I should not take advice from a new vendor and (2) if I mixed approved apple types, the chances were better that great pies would result.

I teach baking. Bread is the number one favorite class; but recently, Pie has had numerous requests. Specifically, Apple Pie!

All this talk about pies has made me want to bake one. And all I have in the fridge are MacIntosh.

 

bakemeacakeasfastasyoucan's picture
bakemeacakeasfa...

My pies leave huge gaps and I recently read a tip on why.  This tip explained that the steam from the apples and the air pockets created by my apple pieces were together creating a bulge under the crust.  I didn't vent the pie adequately and the collapse of the fruit that is inevitable created the dome.  The tip recommended that I thinly slice my apples, lay them out ala tart style, in a circular pattern, closing in the gaps by layering.  The tip also said that by doing it this way, I use less apples and the pie condenses so that there is apple floor to ceiling and the crust is straight across.  One obvious way to create a good vent is to do a lattice top.  But just creating enough holes to vent the steam should help.  I haven't read this advice to you yet.  Everyone insists you use more apples, different apples or something else.  Try this.  I'm in the middle of making a pie right now with this new advice and I'll let you know how I make out.