The Case For Pre-Cooking Your Apple Pie Filling

Who doesn't love a good apple pie? While store-bought apple pies are perfectly good, it's hard to beat the taste of a homemade version with a thick, crispy crust and decadent filling. And if you're looking to learn how to make an apple pie from scratch at home, then there's one key detail that you're going to need to get just right: the apple pie filling and whether or not to cook it beforehand. 

Pre-cooking the filling involves slicing and cutting your apples into even slices and then cooking them with your favorite blend of spices, juice, and cornstarch in a pot. Once cooked, you can allow it to cool until ready to assemble along with the pie crust. On the other hand, you could choose to heat all the ingredients together and cook the entire thing at once. So if you're in between the two, don't worry — there's a case for both methods.

Pre-cooking ensures the filling will be tender and full of flavor

For some, the most common mistakes made while baking a homemade apple pie includes not pre-cooking the filling. This could lead to some less-than-ideal outcomes with the pie, such as there being too much liquid or the apples not cooking all the way through, leading to a crunchy consistency. 

Additionally, there's the chance that there will be a gap between the filling and the crust. To avoid this pitfall, it's recommended to pre-cook the apples until they're about 85% to 90% done. Since the apples are pre-cooked at this point, they should remain the same size in volume, removing the risk of your pie having that awkward space. Then, when it comes to baking the pie altogether, you can use a higher temperature and bake it for less time.

And because the apples have had even longer to marinate and infuse with the spices and cornstarch, there's the benefit of having a richer, enhanced flavor. When pre-cooked, the fruit has already released its juices, reducing the chance of them making your pie soggy as well. 

Others claim pre-cooking isn't necessary

While some people firmly stand behind the step of pre-cooking the apple filling first, others may find it to be an unnecessary step while making the dessert. It's important to note here that the apples can be cooked through while baking in the oven, even without the pre-cooking — the baking process will just look different. Namely, the cooking time on the pie will be longer, around 45 minutes, if you choose not to pre-cook the filling. On top of the longer cook time, you will also need to lower the temperature so you don't burn the crust or another aspect of the pie. 

So it really comes down to personal preference. If you'd rather keep your pie baking to as few steps as possible, then it's totally doable to bake the apple pie all in one go, no pre-cooking required. But, if you're looking to be a bit more intricate and precise — or you want to make the filling days in advance — then you're likely better off going with the pre-cooking route.