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I made an extremely delicious apple pie yesterday, with a puff pastry crust. The only problem was that by the time the pastry was cooked, the apple filling had turned to mush - the texture of apple butter or apple sauce.

I used fresh Bramley cooking apples from the tree in our garden, and cut them into what I thought were reasonable sized chunks... I added sugar and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) but nothing else - no water or anything.

Should I have cut them into bigger chunks, or is there some other technique for ending up with solid chunks of apple in the pie rather than mush?

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6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The only trick I know of is to use a different variety of apple-- some will turn to complete mush, while others stay firm. Unfortunately, unlike potatoes, they don't tend to be marked at the super market as to which variety they are.

Now, I'm not familiar with Bramley, but from what I've found, it's compared to Granny Smith, which tends to hold up well in pies.

I'd recommend blind baking your crust, if you aren't already, so the filling isn't in there as long, and possibly going with a thicker slice of apple when you're cooking, in hopes they won't break down as quickly.

update : in checking CookWise, there's a comment in the apple pie recipe that "briefly sautéing and poaching apples softens them slighly before the sugar, which prevents cells falling apart and preserves texture, is added"

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Bramley is a cooking apple and so it's no surprise it turned to mush. Granny Smith will hold up much better in a pie, as will any crisp eating apple. –  ElendilTheTall Aug 14 '13 at 7:41
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Just recalled a pie I made a few years back that may help you out...

It was the end of the season, and I didn't have enough fresh apples left for both a pie and sauce. The pork roast in the oven cried out for sauce, but the ice cream in the freezer pleaded for pie... So I cooked up the sauce, and rolled out the dough, lining the bottom of the pie with dried apple slices, covering them with sauce and a solid top crust. The dried apples softened as they cooked, and by the time the crust was done I had a thick, intensely-flavored filling.

So if you have apples to spare, slice and dry a few, then mix those into your next pie.

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The first technique that comes to mind would be to bake the crust "blind" first. That is, you put it in the oven with a weight on it (so that it doesn't bubble up). Once the crust is mostly baked, add the filling and put in the oven for a second session. That way, the filling doesn't need to wait for the crust to be done.

In all honesty, I actually like the apples mushy in my pie. However, that's a matter of personal taste.

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I thought of suggesting this as well, but apple pies generally have a top crust or lattice and that still needs to bake. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Sep 12 '10 at 14:28
    
You could blind-bake the top crust as well, and cut it into a lattice when assembling the pie before the second session in the oven. –  Carmi Sep 12 '10 at 14:41
    
Blind-baking is great for fillings that would make the crust soggy otherwise... But if you just want to speed up crust baking time, increase the temperature. Preheat the oven with a stone in it to 400F (~200C), and set the pie pan directly on the stone. Should cook nicely in 20-30 minutes. –  Shog9 Sep 13 '10 at 4:17
    
Cutting a lattice doesn't work very well, because of the way pie crusts flake. To do a lattice top, you need to weave strips of pastry together. –  daniel Sep 13 '10 at 9:26
    
@Knives, that really doesn't actually work. Plus... 400F for 30 minutes will give you a nice burnt crust, not something edible. –  daniel Sep 13 '10 at 9:26
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My understanding is that this is mostly to do with the apple variety. Here is a chart of which apples will behave well in pie. I see from Wikipedia that Bramley's are considered a definitive baking apple. Is it possible that your tree isn't really Bramley's?

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Funny thing about "cooking apples" - different people like apples to cook in different ways. I suspect Bramley's are considered cooking apples because they cook down so well... For a baked apple (cooked with the skin on), a tart, or for sauce, this would be ideal. For a pie, I guess it depends on whether you like soft pie filling. –  Shog9 Sep 12 '10 at 22:56
    
I think Knives is on to it. While Bramleys and Granny Smiths are both cooking apples, the Bramleys cook to a mush and the Granny Smiths remain firm. To get firm pieces you will need another variety. –  papin Sep 13 '10 at 0:56
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Try mixing your apples with the sugar and letting them drain in a colander over a bowl for 15-20 minutes. Put the juices in a pan over low heat and reduce by at least half. Assemble your pie and pour the reduction over the apples.

And check your oven's temperature with a good oven thermometer. You may be cooking the pie too long if it's under temperature.

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I usually pre-cook the apples in a saucepan, and then assemble the pie. Then I can cook the crust at ridiculously high temperatures to do the crust in about 10-15 minutes, which doesn't allow enough time for the apples to continue cooking.

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