The process of making an apple pie doesn’t end when you’ve assembled the pie and popped it in the oven. You also have to figure out how to tell if your apple pie is done.
The short answer? You need to look closely at your top crust’s vents and check for bubbling. Your filling bubbling up, plus some other subtle indications, is the pie telling you that it’s done.
At this point, it’s crucial to get this right since you don’t want to mess up at the very last step and start over. Let’s dig deeper and talk about your pie’s telltale signs of doneness.
There are a few ways to go about this, but they’re usually all done together. This ensures that you’re not taking out your apple pie earlier than you should be.
First is to check your vents or lattice tops for bubbling. The filling should be bubbling all over for a few minutes—5 to 10 minutes is a good bet.
But keep in mind that these minutes are highly dependent on several factors: the ripeness of your apples, the thickness of each slice, and if you pre-baked your filling.
Pre-baking your filling, using more ripe apples, and cutting them into thinner slices would result in a shorter waiting time to see bubbling. Otherwise, you may have to wait a bit longer.
You also want to make sure that your apples are soft enough—this is especially important if you choose not to pre-bake your filling. This leads us to the second way to tell if an apple pie is done: poke it with a toothpick.
There should be zero resistance when you poke into your filling. Make sure to poke at different vents to ensure that your filling is soft all throughout.
Another thing you should look out for is the color of your crust. We’re aiming for a golden brown shade.
However, you have to note that oftentimes, just because your crust is already brown doesn’t always mean your pie is done. There’s a chance that your crust can cook quicker than your filling.
Hence why it’s beneficial to combine all of these steps to check for your apple pie’s doneness.
Let’s take a look at some common problems you may encounter when baking an apple pie.
This may simply mean that your pie isn’t done yet. No bubbling at the vents means that your filling isn’t quite thick enough.
Pop it back in the oven and give it some more time. Remember that the filling should be bubbling at most of the vents and not just the sides.
You might not be seeing all that golden brown goodness because of your oven temperature. An oven that’s too cool will result in a pale crust. The filling will bubble, but the crust will not brown.
This is why it’s important to preheat your oven. Preheating helps make the oven reach optimal temperatures when you put your pie in for baking.
With that being said, you’d have to get to know your oven well since their temperatures may vary depending on the model.
The reason is the complete opposite of why your crust is pale: your oven temperatures are too hot. The crust cooks and browns faster than your filling can thicken.
Again, following the right temperature is key. You may also opt to use an oven thermometer.
This is usually seen in fillings that aren’t pre-cooked. While we don’t want a solid filling, we don’t want it soupy either.
We’re aiming for a thick maple syrup-like consistency. If you’re positive that your pie is ready but your filling is still runny, the answer might be to let your pie set.
Ultimately, your main indicator for an apple pie’s doneness is bubbling at the vents. You can also check your crust for the iconic golden brown color and use a toothpick to check for the softness of your apples.
Remember that baking is both a science and an art form. There’s no exact, surefire way to do things, but you’d have to follow the recipe.
Even then, many things such as baking time and doneness depend on the ingredients and oven you’re using.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.