Top 5 Baking Tips to Prevent a "Soggy Bottom"

Food science facts to achieve the perfect pie, every time

Pastry is at its finest when it forms a firm, crisp, and buttery casing for the food that it’s showcasing – but all too often, a “soggy bottom” steals the show. Our book The Science of Cooking can help you harness the help of chemistry and ensure that every pie you bake is upper-crust quality. 

The science of the “soggy bottom”

Don’t take soggy pies personally – pastry dough is made up of at least 50 per cent water-absorbing starchy flour, making it all too easy for a delicious, crispy-topped pie to end up with a soggy stodge for its base. But what’s really happening?

During baking, microscopic starch crystals soak up water, “gelatinizing” into a smooth, soft gel; meanwhile elastic gluten dries, water from fat evaporates as steam, and, when fully dried, the surface browns and produces caramel-like aromas via a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction. However, when a filling is added, moisture cannot evaporate and instead the pastry is likely to absorb liquid from the filling.

Does this sound familiar? Don’t despair! Simply follow the easy-as-pie tips below.

The Top 5 Baking Tips to Prevent a Soggy Bottom


Give yourself a smart head start

Blind-bake your base before adding a filling to help to firm the base and avoid liquid being absorbed into it. Prick the base with a fork to help steam escape, cover with foil or parchment, and weigh it down with ceramic baking beans, uncooked rice or white sugar. Then bake at 220°C (425°F) for 15 minutes.


Establish an egg-cellent shield

Before blind-baking, brush the base with beaten egg or egg white. This causes proteins to form a water resistant layer.


Give your pie the dish it's wishing for

A pie’s filling insulates the base from hot air, so the material of your dish is important! A dark metal dish absorbs heat well, or an ovenproof glass dish lets heat rays pass directly into the base. Both heat swiftly so that moisture steams away.


Get right to the bottom of things

If your oven’s element is at the bottom, put your pie on the lower rack to heat its base quickly and evenly.


Avoid butter bloat

Butter is 10-20% water, so cooking pastry quickly at a high heat helps the moisture evaporate rather than soak into the flour.

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