Pie crusts with fruit fillings often become saturated with juice when baking. Here's how to keep them from becoming sodden.
Early tests with our recipe for Sweet Cherry Pie consistently delivered pies with bottom crusts saturated with cherry juice. We wondered if getting the bottom crust of the pie to heat more rapidly might help prevent fruit juices from soaking through.
We baked two identical cherry pies, one of them placed directly on the oven rack and the second placed on a baking sheet preheated for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
The bottom crust of the pie baked directly on the oven rack was soaked with cherry juice, while the pie cooked on a preheated baking sheet had a solid, intact bottom crust.
In its raw state, pie dough is made up of cold, solid fat distributed among layers of moist flour. These layers are easily permeated by juices from the cherry filling, which stay in the dough for the duration of baking, producing a soggy crust. The key to protecting the dough is to partially liquefy the solid fat as quickly as possible so that it can better fill and coat the spaces among the particles of flour, creating a watertight barrier and preventing the juices from soaking in. By placing the pie plate on a preheated baking sheet, we are giving the bottom crust a jump-start in this liquefying process.