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Unmasking the Pumpkin Puzzle: When Does Pie Cross Over to Tart?

Unmasking the Pumpkin Puzzle: When Does Pie Cross Over to Tart?

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Baked goodies vary from biscuits, bread, pies, pastries, tarts, and a few more. Sometimes a dish resembles another and the difference is hard to spot.

For instance, is pumpkin pie a tart?

Technically, a pumpkin pie is also a tart because of its open-face presentation. Nevertheless, remember that not all pies are tarts.

To understand this topic better, let’s dive into the key differences between pies and tarts. While at it, we’ll learn when a pumpkin pie is considered a tart.

What Are the Differences Between a Tart and a Pie?

Tarts and pies are baked goods with a filling and a crust. That’s why they look very similar to each other.

Nevertheless, there are main differences between these baked goods.

1 – Crust

A pie is often baked with a pastry dough encasing the filling. This shell typically consists of flour, cold water, and fats like butter, lard, or vegetable shortening.

The fat component is responsible for the characteristic flaky texture of pie crusts. Among the options, lard yields the flakiest crust, while butter makes it relatively firmer.

Additionally, you can use the resulting dough in several ways. For instance, you can have a double-crust pie, which means the filling is encased from top to bottom.

You can also opt for open-face pies with only a bottom crust.

Yet, lattice pies are your best bet if you’re going for a more appealing pie. Strips of dough decorate the top of the pie and partially cover the filling.

In contrast, a tart only has a bottom crust composed of traditional ingredients. That includes flour, cold water, unsalted butter, and sometimes sugar.

The goal is to create a biscuit-like and crumbly crust, otherwise known as a shortcrust. However, this desired consistency of the tart dough is a bit more difficult to achieve.

For this reason, blind-baking is highly recommended to firm up the crust, so it cooks better with the filling.

Something else to remember is that a pie’s shell is rougher compared to a thinner tart crust.

2 – Filling

Pies and tarts are offered in a range of fillings. For instance, there are sweet pies with custard or fruit filling. There are also savory variants like potato or chicken pot pies.

On the other hand, tarts can contain lightly baked fillings like egg custard. Unbaked fillings like fruits can be used as well.

What differentiates pies and tarts in terms of filling is the texture.

The tart filling is made more delicately. That’s because when filled with too heavy filling, the shell may be ruined.

Ideally, the filling should be creamy, airy, and smooth.

You can achieve this preferred texture and consistency by maintaining a relatively low temperature while baking. You can also constantly stir the mixture as it cooks.

In contrast to the light filling of a tart, a pie filling can be thicker since the crust has a better chance of holding it together.

That said, you can gauge if the mixture is thick enough using the jiggle test.

Give the container a little nudge and observe the filling’s movement. The fluid should move slightly at the center.

If the entire mixture moves like a wave, then it’s too runny. A quick remedy is to add thickeners like cornstarch or flour.

Adding eggs is an option too. However, be cautious so your pie doesn’t taste eggy.

3 – Presentation

During baking, a tart is often placed in a pan with straight or fluted sides and a removable bottom. It can also be molded in a pastry ring with a baking sheet underneath.

Once cooked, the tart is removed and placed in another container.

On the flip side, a pie is baked in a round pan known as a pie dish. This same container is used when serving the pie.

Additionally, tarts and pies may be served and presented differently.

Pies are commonly paired with a generous helping of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

On the contrary, tarts are normally standalone due to their intricate patterns and natural appeal.

Is Pumpkin Pie a Tart?

A pumpkin pie has a custard-based filling and crust made from flour, butter, and cold water.

Although there are recipes for double-crust and lattice pumpkin pies, they’re often made as open-face pastries.

In that case, they can be considered tarts. It’s also worth noting that in France and England, open-face pies are called tarts.

Final Thoughts

Pies and tarts are baked to showcase sumptuous fillings. Fat and flour-based crusts complement both dishes.

With these similarities, a pie can even be considered a tart in some instances.

So, is pumpkin pie a tart?

A pumpkin pie is also a tart when baked with a bottom crust and an open top. In other words, open-face pies are technically tarts.

Nevertheless, whether you have a pie or a tart, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying its delicious goodness.

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