Pies—whether fruit-filled, pecan or pumpkin, or chocolate cream—hold a special place on the holiday dessert table, as well as in the American kitchen. But it is so disappointing to cut into that beautiful pie you made only to discover the bottom crust is soggy. Well, you are not alone—many people have trouble with the bottom of a pie crust turning soft and damp. Luckily, there are a few simple tricks you can use to prevent this, from where you place the pie in the oven to creating a barrier between filling and crust.
Bake it Blind
One of the fool-proof ways to assure a crisp bottom pie crust is to do what is called blind baking. This simply means that you bake the crust—either fully if you are adding a custard or cream, or partially if the whole pie needs to bake—before adding the filling. To avoid the crust from bubbling up, you can place a piece of parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights before placing in the oven.
Choose a Rack
Which rack you use in the oven can help assure a crispier crust. Baking the pie on a lower rack in your oven will concentrate heat on the bottom of the pie and help the crust crisp. The bottom crust does have to hold all of the moisture and liquid of the filling, so this is a good idea whether or not you have problems with a soggy crust.
Brush the Bottom
Coating the surface of the bottom crust will create a barrier to prevent sogginess. Adding a layer of corn syrup or a slightly beaten egg white before pouring in the filling will form a seal between the pie dough and the filling and will help make the crust crisp and flaky.
Use a Cookie Sheet
Putting the pie that is ready for the oven on a hot cookie sheet helps liquify the solid layers of fat in the pastry so the dough will become impermeable to the liquid in the pie filling. Before you start assembling the pie, put a cookie sheet in the oven. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven (don’t forget an oven mitt—it will be very hot!) and set the pie on it. Then bake as usual.
Make a Thicker Crust
The bottom crust has to be sturdier than the top crust, so a little extra added heft is a good idea. Roll the bottom crust slightly thicker than the top crust, which should prevent the filling's moisture from seeping through the entire layer of dough.
Add a Layer
Sprinkle dried bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes, or other types of cereal, on the bottom crust before filling and baking in the oven. This creates a barrier between the filling and the dough.
Fill it While it’s Hot
If the recipe calls for adding the filling while it's hot, don't let the filling cool before you add it to the crust. The hot filling will help set the crust before it even goes into the oven, reducing sogginess.