Pie is such a perfect, happy marriage of flavors and textures: sweet, tart, or creamy filling layered over a rich, flaky crust. Keeping the crust from getting soggy and mushy, however, is a key part of pie making and what makes a really well-made pie stand out in the crowd.
Here are a few things that can be done to ensure that the crust you worked so hard to make bakes up nice and crisp.
1. Blind Bake
The most common way to ward off a soggy pie crust is by a process called blind baking. Blind baking means you pre-bake the crust (sometimes covered with parchment or foil and weighed down with pie weights to prevent the crust from bubbling up) so that it sets and crisps up before you add any wet filling.
You can fully blind bake a pie until it's completely cooked, which you have to do when adding a cooked filling like custard or mousse, or you can partially bake the crust before adding the filling and finishing the baking. In either case, blind baking goes a long way in keeping everything nice and crisp!
2. Brush With Egg
Another way to prevent a soggy crust is to basically seal the surface of it to make a barrier between the crust and the filling. Brushing the surface of the unbaked crust with beaten egg or egg white mixed with water before adding the filling means that as it bakes, the proteins in the egg will form a moisture barrier over the crust and provide a layer of protection.
3. Brush With Chocolate
Along the same vein as brushing unbaked crust with egg to make a moisture barrier is the tasty method of brushing blind-baked crust with chocolate to make things even crispier. Let your fully blind-baked crust cool completely, then brush with melted chocolate and let that set before adding your filling. Not only do you end up with a super-crisp crust, but you get a sweet bonus layer of chocolate too!
4. Bake on a Hot Baking Sheet
Pie crust gets light, flaky and crisp when the heat of the oven melts the little nubs of fat inside the crust quickly and so that they form steam that puffs the crust up. You want that process to happen quickly so that the crust sets before the filling has much of a chance to seep in and make things soggy. Place a baking sheet in the oven as it heats, then place your pie dish directly on that hot baking sheet — this little extra boost of heat will do wonders in terms of getting the crust to cook and set quickly.
5. Keep Moisture Out
One of the easiest ways to prevent a soggy pie crust is to keep the moisture out in the first place. Toss your fruit with sugar, let it sit for awhile so the juices start to come out, then strain out those juices. You can discard those juices or boil them down into a syrup that gets tossed back in with the fruit before baking.
And if you're doing a double-crust fruit pie, don't forget to cut a little circle in the middle or slits in the top crust — it's important to create a vent where steam from the filling has a chance to escape instead of settling into the crust.
(Image credits: HLPhoto/Shutterstock; Emma Christensen; Christine Gallary)