Why does the top crust of my apple pie not lay flat on the apples, always a hole?

Also, pie is watery. I usually use honey crisp apples

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8 Comments

Pegeen October 7, 2014
CarlaCooks, I just bring the bottom crust up to the top edge of the pie dish and use a knife to level off the edge. (And then blind bake it.) I cut the top crust a little wider in diameter than the pie dish, so that I'll have enough "overhanging" dough to make the standard crimped edge.
 
Pegeen October 6, 2014
As Dinner At Ten explained, the moisture evaporates from the apples in the oven and creates a steam pocket between the apples and the top crust.

To get a solid slab of apples in your pie slices, without an air pocket near the top crust, here's a method for pre-cooking the apples that also soaks up any extra juices:

For a 9-inch pie, you need 3-4 pounds firm tart apples. I usually go with more rather than less because you can pack more pre-cooked apples into the pie dish.
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Peel the apples, cut in half, core them. Cut each half into 5 or 6 wedges. Melt the butter over medium heat in a wide, shallow, frying pan. (Use two frying pans if you don’t have one big one.) When butter begins to bubble, add sliced apples. Stir gently until apples begin to sizzle, about a minute. Add the lemon juice and sugar and continue to stir gently until the apples are tender but still pretty firm, not completely soft, about 5 minutes longer.

If the apples have released a large quantity of juice, they will reabsorb the juice as they cool. If there seems to be A WHOLE LOT of extra juice, pour it off the apples into a saucepan. Over low heat, reduce the juice until even thicker and more syrupy.

Pour the apples onto baking sheets or plates lined with plastic wrap or parchment, in a single layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon and let cool.

The apples will re-absorb juices as they cool off. If you had so much juice you needed to put it in a saucepan, when the juice in the saucepan is reduced, pour the thickened juice over the spread-out warm apples and then wait for the apples to absorb the juice and cool off.

When the apples are cool, you can pour them into your pie dish.

p.s.
I recommend the Cooks Illustrated pie crust recipe that uses a dash of vodka. I always blind bake the bottom crust first to avoid sogginess.
Cook’s Illustrated Fool-Proof Pie Crust
https://food52.com/blog/8953-cook-s-illustrated-s-foolproof-pie-crust
 
CarlaCooks October 7, 2014
Just out of curiosity, how do you blind bake a crust for a double-crusted pie? I always use the excess dough overhanging from the bottom crust to help seal the top crust. Do you not do this? And that Cook's Illustrated crust is brilliant! It's the only recipe I use now for pie crust.
 
Pegeen October 7, 2014
I should have mentioned: use a slotted spoon to remove the apples from the frying pan(s) to the baking sheets or plates for cooling. That leaves the juices behind in the frying pan(s) and you can just use the frying pan to reduce the sauce before pouring it over the cooling apples again.
 

Voted the Best Reply!

dinner A. October 6, 2014
When the apple slices are raw and crisp, they don't pack as efficiently as they do after they've softened during baking, but the crust usually becomes firm before the apples soften and pack down, leaving the crust arched above the apples. The best way to deal with this is by gently par-cooking your apple slices before assembling the pie. This gentle cooking also stabilizes the pectin in the apples, reducing the amount of slumping and water-releasing they will do. For more about this, I highly recommend the series on apple pie by Kenji Alt-Lopez on Serious Eats. Here's the part about par-cooking the sliced apples:
http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-labs-apple-pie-part-2-how-to-make-perfect-apple-pie-filling.html
For the record, I tried his preferred method of pouring hot water over the apples and then draining, and I didn't like it -- I thought too much apple flavor leached out. I got great results by gently cooking the slices for a short time on the stove top, using a candy thermometer to get them to about the recommended temp.

 
Lindsay-Jean H. October 6, 2014
Erin McDowell, one of our Test Kitchen managers, recommends arranging the apple slices in a rosette pattern to reduce air pockets -- get a visual here: http://instagram.com/p/tV-bsTHU-b/?modal=true
 
Kelly S. October 6, 2014
For the watery filling, try adding a little corn starch or flour the make that juice into more of a thick paste. I don't quite understand what you asking about the crust, try adding slits in the middle to keep it from bubbling up.
 
Jeannine D. October 6, 2014
Hi Kelly, thanks for the tip on cornstarch. I used flour, but maybe not enough. Regarding the top crust, when it goes in the oven the top crust is flat to the apples, when done, it appears that the apples have flattened and there is a space between top crust and apples, hard to slice. I used 3 lbs of apples for a 9" pie
 
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