Strawberry Pie Fail

Three months of custards and pantry pies. Three months of blind baking shells, stirring fillings, topping with meringues. Now spring has hit, strawberries are in, and on to the new!

And... it failed. Flavorful as all get out. Flaky, buttery crust, clean strawberry flavor. But soupy. It had twenty minutes at 425˚ which should have activated the tapioca. The filling bubbled like lava, almost at the center. What did I do wrong?

First, sure I could mashing some berries and pre-cook the filling to guarantee a set. I could order modified cornstarch or gels. I’m kinda a fan of the "mix fruit with sugar, thickener, and flavorings, and bake” method of fruit pie, though. I like some run to the filling.

Why did I go with tapioca? I wanted the clarity it gives to the thickened juices. Just look at the bright ruby red syrup! Cornstarch and flour leave them cloudy. Also, I'd never really used tapioca.

So the pie went together well. Had some inspiration and tossed a little brandy in with the berries. The crust looked great, though the lattice needs some work. There were zero complications during the build and bake. It sat overnight till I sliced into Sunday afternoon.

Doing some research on “runny strawberry pie,” turned up a couple helpful articles. The Kitchn has some helpful pointers on avoiding soggy pies. And I wished I'd found epicurioius's Tricks to Tapioca ages ago, too. So what do I think went wrong? The wrong flavor of tapioca!—I grabbed flour, not instant. (The selection at the grocery store was very limited.) That's most likely why it didn't set. Possible other points of failure? Too much liquid to start with or too low a heat so the tapioca wasn’t activated.

Strategies for the next strawberry pie? Use some form of INSTANT tapioca. Drain off the maceration liquid (possibly cook it down to a weak syrup?) Also, construction-wise, crimp the lattice into the bottom crust.

But still, I easily ate half the pie in two days. A few other people helped kill off the second half.



  • 9” deep dish and enough for a top


  • 2Qts Ripe Strawberries
  • 4Tbls Instant Tapioca
  • 2/3C-1C Sugar
  • 1/2tsp Salt (to make the flavors pop)
  • 1-2tsp Vanilla
  • Citrus Juice (lemon or lime)
  • Splash of Brandy (optional)


  1. Pit and, if large halve, Strawberries

  2. Stir sugar, salt, and tapioca together. Fold sugar mixture, vanilla, citrus juice, and spirits with strawberries.

  3. Add sugar and citrus till the strawberries sing.

  4. Pour into crust, place top on, trim & crimp, chill while oven preheats to 425˚

  5. Before going in, egg or milk wash.

  6. Bake for 20 minutes at 425˚. Reduce heat to 375˚ and bake another 30-50 minutes till the filling at the center is bubbling like lava.

  7. With 15 or so minutes left, sprinkle with sugar.

  8. Remove, cool overnight, and serve.