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Berry pie Cornstarch v. tapioca v. flour

forestgirl's picture

Hi, I'm looking for your kind advice again.  Am learning to bake pies.  Made a raspberry pie a few weeks ago, used tapioca and cornstarch per the recipe.  Now am checking out blackberry pie recipes.  Some say cornstarch, some say flour, some say tapioca.  What are the pros/cons of the different thickening agents?  TIA!


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Ozark's picture

(post #32995, reply #1 of 26)

There is another choice that a lot of commercial bakers use. It doesn't hide the flavors of food and you can reheat and won't break. ClearJel for sauces, gravies or baking.

"A wink is good as a nod to a blind man."

 

Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!

Biscuit's picture

(post #32995, reply #9 of 26)

I hate using Clearjel.  It leaves a gelatinous feeling to pies.  Nasty.


*******


I like using tapioca in my pies.  Get the instant kind.  You won't get the grainy feel.  Flour I only use for apple pies - they take a very long time to bake so the flour-taste gets cooked out.  For berry pies, I would not use flour.


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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #32995, reply #10 of 26)

Yeah, I use flour for apple pies, too. I don't know why, but they seem to taste better with flour than with cornstarch.

 


I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.

Madam Benoit

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

Regality's picture

(post #32995, reply #12 of 26)

I'm also a "flour child."  I suppose that because my mother always used flour and most of the pie recipes that sound right to me always use flour.  Whenever I've tried other thickeners, they just seem off somehow...not homemade, if that makes any sense.

 


“For me, patriotism is the love of one’s country, while nationalism is the hatred of other peoples.”–Dmitri Likhachev


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Marcia's picture

(post #32995, reply #17 of 26)

That's interesting, because I use flour and have tried other things. They just don't suit. Most of the pies I make have butter in the filling, and I think the butter and flour combination is a good one.

Ricks503's picture

(post #32995, reply #11 of 26)

I got the instant type. instead of the pearls of tapioca, it was more granulated into maybe 1/16" - 1/8" pieces.  It still seemed grainy to me after cooking.


1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1


Edited 8/28/2006 1:14 pm ET by Ricks503

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

SuB's picture

(post #32995, reply #16 of 26)

ITA.  I always wondered how they got commercial fruit pies to taste like glue... maybe they use too much in order to make the pies bulletproof.


Cheers, Sue B.


The older I get, the better I was.


Edited 8/29/2006 2:40 am by SuB


Edited 8/29/2006 2:40 am by SuB

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

Ozark's picture

(post #32995, reply #18 of 26)

 


I agree about factory made pies. When I said commercial I was referring to restaurants, local bakeries and pie shops.


"A wink is good as a nod to a blind man."

 

Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!

SuB's picture

(post #32995, reply #26 of 26)

I apologise - I shouldn't knock something until I've tried it myself.  The name ClearGel brought to mind Sure-Jell brand pectin for jelly-making, what a thought, ick. 


Sadly, I've never had a commercially-made pie that I thought tasted half as good as homemade, even from quality bakeries (and we have some pretty good ones around here).  From supermarket bakeries it is just disgusting. 


Maybe I'm getting crabby in my old age.   It's just that I think pie (done well) is about the best thing in the world & it's a subject close to my heart.



Cheers, Sue B.


The older I get, the better I was.

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #32995, reply #2 of 26)

Cornstarch and flour are both readily available, so that's a plus for both of them. Of those two, I prefer cornstarch, as it creates a nice, clear filling. You also use less of it, so you get less of a starchy flavor (at least to me).

Tapicoa is better than cornstarch, according to those in the know, but I've never used it b/c I've never easily found it. Since cornstarch works for me, I've not searched it out.

In any case, when doing a recipe for the first time, try to use what that recipe calls for - especially when you are doing something new to you, like pies. That way you really learn how it's "supposed" to be. Then, when you get really good at the basic recipe, you can futz with it to your hearts content!

 


I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.

Madam Benoit

 

Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

Ricks503's picture

(post #32995, reply #3 of 26)

I just made a cherry crisp over the weekend and the recipe called for tapioca and I used it.  I do not know if it was me or what, but the tapioca seemed to leave a grainy feel to it.  I will go back to using cornstarch.


 


Edited: I just had a thought though.  Next pie/crisp, I may try putting the tapioca thru the coffee grinder to make a tapioca flour and try that.  The granulated tapioca I used thickened all right, but I did not care for the texture.


 


By the way, Welcome to this side of the countertop.


 



1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1


Edited 8/28/2006 8:58 am ET by Ricks503

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

Jean's picture

(post #32995, reply #4 of 26)

Yes, use the tapioca flour. I too, really dislike tapioca pudding.



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plantlust's picture

(post #32995, reply #5 of 26)

What about arrowroot starch? 


Has anyone here ever used it?  Can you comment on the taste, please.


Day nine hundred bijillion of stove deprivation.  Did you know that a blowtorch can start a charcoal grill?

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ashleyd's picture

(post #32995, reply #6 of 26)

Arrowroot is good as it comes out clear and has practically zero taste of its own, only downside is that it does have to reach boiling point to work.


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wonka's picture

(post #32995, reply #7 of 26)

Try a health food store to get tapioca flour. I have a wheat intolerance and use rice flour and tapioca flour to make my bread.

Ricks503's picture

(post #32995, reply #8 of 26)

Might look into that in the future.  At this time, I have almost all of the small box of tapioca I bought and hate to just toss it.  So that is why I will try the coffee grinder idea of making my own tapica flour.  If that does not work, I will toss tapioca out and go back to corn starch.

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

VAgardengirl's picture

(post #32995, reply #13 of 26)

 I make tapioca flour by grinding the old fashion pearl tapioca in a coffee grinder along with an equal amount of sugar.  It works for me.  Give it a try.

When the miseries strike and you're down in the dumps, food transformed by love and memory becomes therapy.

Memsahib's picture

(post #32995, reply #14 of 26)

I use the Instant ClearJel Powder that Ozark recommended.  You can buy it from the King Arthur's Flour catalog.  Am really happy with it.

To one who shares food it is sugar

To one who eats alone it is a toad

Punjabi Proverb

SuB's picture

(post #32995, reply #15 of 26)

If you were happy with your tapioca/cornstarch raspberry pie filling, do the same thing with the blackberries.


I prefer arrowroot or tapioca starch (available at Asian markets - very inexpensive) to cornstarch - they hold up to the acid in the fruit where cornstarch breaks down after a day or so.  Neither adds flavor.  Like cornstarch, they must come to a boil to thicken up, which can be a bit tricky - stick an instaread into your pie to see if the center is approaching 212 degrees.


Minute tapioca also works very well - most reliable of the three IMO but costlier.  I use about 1 Tb. per cup of fruit but not more than 1/4C. per pie (I usually make 6C. pies).


Consider adding a diced or grated apple to your berry filling - call me a Philistine ;-) if you wish - but apples contain a lot of pectin which helps thicken very juicy fillings such as blackberry, tastes more or less neutral.


Let your pie cool completely before cutting if you don't want the filling to flow.  The next day is best.


Have fun experimenting and see what works for you.  A hand made pie is always great no matter what.



Cheers, Sue B.


The older I get, the better I was.


Edited 8/29/2006 2:38 am by SuB

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

Gary's picture

(post #32995, reply #19 of 26)

http://www.baking911.com/pantry/thickeners.htm

The people who gave us golf and called it a game are the same people who gave us bag pipes and called it music and haggis and called it food.

Debby's picture

(post #32995, reply #20 of 26)

Wow!  What a wealth of information!  Thanks.....


Debby

forestgirl's picture

(post #32995, reply #21 of 26)

Thanks Gary and everyone else!  This is pretty interesting (especially for a girl who's not all that "domestic" LOL!).  Put girl in quotes -- I'm in my 5th decade.


I got silly and baked a cobbler last night, seemed easier than a pie, but will probably make a pie this weekend.  Hubby's stressed and pie seems to help alot! ;-)


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

unbaked's picture

(post #32995, reply #22 of 26)

I used to use cornstarch for apple pies, but found that sometimes if the filling boiled in the oven too long, the cornstarch would lose its thickening power (as it would in anything that was boiled), so after years of using it, I switched to flour.


It was aggravating to have a pie come out watery every once in a while. Too much effort to have it be hit and miss that way.


I think that flour is more of a sure thing and I never noticed the difference in my apple pies or crisps. I never tried it with berry pies, though.


'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

'The desire to make an effort to improve the lives of those around you does not yet live in everyone, but it does live in everyone who cooks.' -Bill Penzey, one magazine

Ozark's picture

(post #32995, reply #23 of 26)

You might saute the apples before they go in the pie. This will remove some of the moisture, intensify the flavor and allow more apples in the pie. Will also eliminate the hollow under the top crust.

"A wink is good as a nod to a blind man."

 

Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!

forestgirl's picture

(post #32995, reply #24 of 26)

Speaking of boiling, the cobbler recipe I used involved putting the crust ingredients in the bottom of the baking dish (Pyrex, rectangle) and then lay the berries in, no stirring.  The "crust" was supposed to rise up through the berries and get brown.  Never did.  It tasted good, but was pretty much like blackberry upside-down cake, LOL.  Any tips?


[how I did it:  melt butter in baking dish, add milk; mix sugar and flour in a bowl and then sift onto/into the butter compulsively even ;-) ; sprinkle in blackberries.  Baked at 350° forever (50-60 mins?).  It peeked through the top in a couple places, but 90% stayed where it was, well-browned.]


forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-) 

Ricks503's picture

(post #32995, reply #25 of 26)

I have a book that has recipes for cobblers, crisps and pandowdys and have not seen a recipe like that.  The differance between them seems to be the topping

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1

 

 

" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow