Why Overmixing Your Fruity Pie Filling Is The Biggest Mistake You Can Make

Baked fruit pie and berries
Baked fruit pie and berries - OlgaBombologna/Shutterstock

Making a fruit pie with your favorite in-season produce is a classic way to enjoy it. Whether it's berries, rhubarb, or something sturdier like apples and pears, the combination of buttery pastry and sweet, juicy filling is always a welcome addition to a meal. You can make homemade dough or buy prepared, but the pie filling is the star of the show, and it's important to mix it properly.

A fruit pie filling typically has added sugar and a thickening agent like flour, cornstarch, or tapioca, though citrus zest or juice, and a splash of extract are also common. As the pie cooks, the fruit will release juices. The combination of the added starch and the fruit's natural pectin will gel the liquid, so you can cut a slice when it's done and avoid a soupy mess. Beyond what you add to the fruit before baking, how you combine everything is critical.

One very common mistake when assembling a fruit pie filling is overmixing the ingredients. The sugar and starch should evenly coat the fruit and dissolve to create a pie with a uniform taste and texture, but you do not want to crush the filling ingredients. If you stir too vigorously or for too long, the pieces of fruit, especially delicate berries, will break down into small bits that become mush during the baking process, leaving a wet mess of unidentifiable fruit and soggy pastry.

Read more: 30 Types Of Cake, Explained

How To Mix Pie Filling For The Best Result

Sliced baked fruit pie
Sliced baked fruit pie - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

To avoid overmixing, try using your hands or a soft rubber spatula to combine the pie filling in a large wide bowl. Slide your fingers or the broad flat side of a spatula down the side of the bowl to the bottom and then lift up and flip the fruit onto the top of the pile. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. A hard wooden or metal spoon is more likely to cut the fruit into pieces. It may take a few turns of the bowl to distribute everything, especially because you need a hefty amount of filling to have a full baked pie. Once you see the fruit becoming glossy and wet and there are no pockets of dry starch, it has been tossed enough.

Another option to avoid the mistake of overmixing is to precook the filling. This option works best with heartier fruit, like apples, that take longer to become soft. The heat will quickly melt the sugar while releasing some of the fruit's liquid to dissolve the starch. The width of the skillet makes it easy to gently toss the ingredients. If precooking, take care to briefly cook the fruit so it retains its shape during baking, and cool it before assembling the pie.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.