Fruit Pies and Tarts

Fruit pies are filled with fresh, frozen, cooked, canned or even dried fruit, if it is soaked and simmered before being used. They can be assembled in a prebaked or unbaked bottom crust, with or without a top crust. They can be made from a pastry dough or Phyllo dough and topped with either or a crumb or streusel topping. They can also be free form and are then called a Galette. If unbaked crust(s) are filled, the two bake together.

The perfect fruit filling depends on the successful combination of fruit, fruit juice (usually from the fresh fruit), sweetener and a starch thickener. Gelatin or fruit glaze is sometimes used to glaze fresh fruit pies or tarts that are not baked. Sugar is usually added, but too much will cause the filling to become shriveled and tough, because sugar draws water from the fruit. 

Peach Melba Mini Skillet Pies Tutorial

The sign of a fruit pie ready to take from the oven is that it should be juicy and bubbling all over, especially if it contains a starch thickener, otherwise the starch is not going to work.

Characteristics of Standard Fruit Fillings:
Consistency Tender
Softly holds shape
Appearance Filling retained in pie
Flavor Good fruit flavor

The Ultimate Apple Pie Recipe with a Rum Raisin Sauce Typical thickening agents for fruit pies include: cornstarch, tapioca, arrowroot, and sometimes flour, but the later has a tendency to cloud the filling, so it is used for pies, such as apple; and, the not-so-obvious: ClearJel and potato starch; and, several combinations: flour-cornstarch, tapioca-cornstarch. All are available in the supermarket, except for the combination thickener which you mix yourself.

The amount needed varies with the kind of fruit and the quantity of sugar used. However, everyone has their favorite thickener and will swear by it as the very best! But, certain thickeners are best used with certain types of fruit.
SARAH SAYS: In general, fruit fillings thickened with arrowroot and tapioca, were clear and bright in appearance, and the flavor of the fruit came through clearly. Of the two, tapioca showed a bit more thickening power and was therefore my favorite. When making a lattice-top pie, the tapioca on top of the fruit baked into hard bits, so first grind it into a fine powder. ClearJel or Potato Starch can be used as a good thickener.

Blueberry Crumble Pie, Step-by-Step Recipe3 tablespoons Instant ClearJel = 3 tablespoons cornstarch OR 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour OR 1/4 cup tapioca flour

Too much thickening agent
Too high proportion of tapioca

Too firm
Too much thickening agent

Too thin
Not enough thickening agent
Too much sugar

Nectarine or Peach Cobbler Potluck Pie TutorialFilling spills out on crust
Oven temperature too low
Insufficient sugar and/or fruit
Insufficient thickening
Too much sugar
Upper crust shrinkage, or not sealed

Excessively sweet, with little fruit flavor
Too little fruit and fruit juices in proportion to sugar
Spices cover fruit flavor
Too much spice

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