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Fruit pie fillings...what's your method?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Now that I have this newfangled job as PC of a growing bakery, it's sort of up to me to "fix things" that they have been struggling with. They are having trouble with their pies, both with the crusts and the fruit fillings. I already solved the crust problem, and I'm already on my way to solving the fruit filling problem, but before I do, I thought I'd get some input from you all about what your tried and true methods are for fruit pie fillings.

Oh yeah, they use frozen IQF fruit exclusively.
So in that regard, this is what I've always done:
  • I pull the fruit out of the freezer in advance to let it thaw a bit and drain some of the juice off. If I'm in a hurry, I'll put the fruit on a sheet pan and defrost it a bit in the oven.
  • Then I toss the fruit with sugar, other flavorings if needed, and cornstarch or Clearjel (in the case of this bakery, it's Clearjel). I use the formula of 1 oz of thickener to 1 lb of fruit.
  • I fill my pie shells with the fruit, dot with butter, and pour just a little of the accumulated juice back into the pie-not all of it.
  • Then I put on the top crust, egg wash, cut vent holes and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Then bake til juice is just bubbling through the top of the crust-not boiling over like crazy of course.
What they are doing right now is pre-cooking all the fruit fillings, then filling the pie crusts. I think that's unnecessary and creates more work.
Also, I do know that if you overcook starch thickened fillings, the starch can then break down, leading to a thin runny filling. My theory is that pre-cooking the filling, then cooking it again in the pies is basically overcooking the starch, which is why the pies are runny.

My "solution" is to suggest doing what I do above, and eliminating the step of pre-cooking the fillings. That way they save time and there's no worries about runny pies with overcooked fillings......
What say you all? What's your experience? Am I missing something?
Let me know. Love all your input!!!!:roll:

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post #2 of 5

cooking cgel twice?

what does the manufacturer say?

I think you are right on the money with the process.
When you add the liquid before crusting the top, are those watery too?
IQF tends to contain more liquids than fresh, so leave the last bit of liquid or add another fraction of an ounce to the base.

May I ask what happened with the shells? I would love to know the problem and what you did to solve it.

bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Well, according to most everything I've read about Clearjel, it's supposed to be able to stand up to most anything.....freezing, thawing, cooking it like crazy.....but I think even Clearjel can start to thin out if it's cooked too much.
I don't know the answer to that question because I haven't seen the cooked filling that she uses in her pies, and whether it's runny or not. All I know is the pies are runny after baking them. I should probably ask her to leave me a sample of her cooked filling so I can have a look. But I do want them to get away from the "extra step" of pre-cooking the fillings, so that may not matter.

They started having a problem with their pie crusts when they had to switch to organic trans-fat free shortening from regular all purpose bakery shortening. The crusts were flaky but somewhat damp and tough. After I ruled out dough mishandling issues, I then had her make a small batch of dough with the all purpose shortening, and another small batch with the organic trans fat free stuff. Side by side, the A.P. shortening crust was flaky and tender, and the organic shortening crust was flaky but damp and tough. I determined that the shortening was the problem. So then everyone thinks "well, we gotta find a different trans-fat free shortening", I sort of agreed, but I wanted to try something else first before we found out we might be barking up the wrong tree. I've always found that trying the simplest solutions first always works best.

The pie crust they made with the A.P. shortening was OK, but not great, and I knew I made a better crust than that. So what I did was make a batch of MY pie crust, using the trans-fat free shortening and butter. It's a great pie crust recipe.....lots of flavor, buttery and flaky, fluffy and tender. The owner was totally sold on it, and it fits in with what our clients want (not using any hydrogenated fats). My crust recipe also solved another problem they were having with their bottom crusts not baking completely.....my crust browns up really nice 'cause I got some sugar, baking powder and vinegar in there.

So, now we have a great pie crust and we don't have to go hunting for another shortening.....problem solved.....!:smiles:
post #4 of 5
I would do what you're doing, but I'd probably forego any liquid that drains off. I agree that you shouldn't cook the fruit twice; it will turn to mush, and who knows, even the IQF stuff may still have some texture if you cook it only once. In some pie recipes I use a combination of 10x sugar and granulated (or brown). The 10x seems to help with the liquid problem a bit.
post #5 of 5

Cookie Mama-at home baker

I would never cook fruit twice. I guess that might be part of why I hate pie in some restuarants. Ugh!
Is there a reason other than possibly cost, that nobody mentions tapioca thickening? I use it and love it, but I am not making several pies at once.
I use it for any fruit pie I make espically my fresh mulberry and nectarine pies.
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