There are some desserts that just about everyone loves no matter what time of the year it is. These can include cookies and various types of cakes. However, there are some desserts out there that are simply better when it is the right time of the year.
A good example of this is the pumpkin pie. While you can certainly make pies of your own from different fruits and fillings, pumpkin pies are a treat that you can only have during the autumn season, as this is when pumpkins can be grown effectively.
Because of this, pumpkin pie is almost always associated with the middle of autumn, during the holiday seasons when people can enjoy this delicious treat.
As you begin preparing for the holidays and making the food, you may decide that you want to make yourself some pumpkin pie. Making pumpkin pie is a relatively easy process, once you have a firm understanding of the basics.
As most people know, when it comes to baking, there isn’t much room for forgiveness, so if you are learning how to make pumpkin pies for the first time, you can expect that things are going to go wrong.
One of the most common types of problems that you will encounter when making a pumpkin pie is that the surface of the pie will appear cracked. While this will not affect the taste of the pie, many people will not appreciate this difference in appearance, especially when the pie is meant to be the centerpiece dessert of a family dinner.
More often than not, a cracked pumpkin pie is indicative of a problem with the ingredients and the cooking process, meaning that it is something that you can fix.
First things first, you have to understand what can go wrong for this to happen. Once you have a firm understanding of what is happening inside the pie to cause it to crack the way that it does, you will have a better sense of what you should do when it comes time for you to redo the recipe.
Understanding What Went Wrong
Out of all the different things that can go wrong when cooking a pumpkin pie, the cause of your pumpkin pie cracking is actually one that is relatively easy to fix.
When all is said and done, most pumpkin pies crack because they have been cooked for too long, or when you have cooled it down too quickly, like sticking it in the freezer just after taking it out of the oven.
The culprit of this is going to be the eggs. Commonly, eggs are used in most pumpkin pie recipes to act as a binding agent and to help the pie keep its shape, as pumpkin puree isn’t going to keep its shape on its own.
Eggs are somewhat finicky when it comes to cooking them, and if the temperature of the eggs goes too high, then they can begin to chemically change, which will alter the appearance of your finished pumpkin pie.
When eggs reach approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit, they will begin to coagulate. In simpler terms, this means that the liquid-like egg whites and yolk will begin to solidify, which will help them become firmer and will make sure that your pie keeps its shape.
However, if the eggs in your pie stay at this temperature for too long, they will begin to tighten up even more.
The tightened eggs will begin to pull at the now-firm structure of the pie, causing wide cracks to form in the pie, which is the problem that you are encountering now. Usually, the cracks will begin around the edges of the pie first, as the edges of the pie will always cook faster than the interior of the pie.
This can also happen after you have taken the pie out of the oven, as even if the air surrounding the pie isn’t enough to cook it, there is still a fair amount of internal heat inside the pie after you take it out of the oven.
This means that the inside of the pie will continue to cook, even after it has been removed from the oven, and this is something that you will need to factor into your pumpkin pie recipe.
Because of these factors, you will need to take special care when cooking and cooling the pie to ensure that the temperature is still reaching the levels that it should to cook thoroughly, but that it is not getting so hot that your pie begins to crack.
The good news about this is that it is fairly easy to remedy a problem that is tied into the amount of time it takes to cook something.
Keeping Your Pumpkin Pie Perfect
Now that you have a firm understanding of what is going on within your pumpkin pie, you will be able to move forward with the best way that you can fix the pie.
Knowing that as long as you follow the recipe for the pie and everything inside of the pie is as it should be, this only leaves one other factor for you to alter, as you really shouldn’t try and remove the eggs from the pumpkin pie recipe. The one thing that you can do for your pie is to adjust the amount of time that you cook the pie for next time.
When the cracks in your pie are caused by an issue with the amount of time that the pie is being cooked, whether that is in the oven or whether that is because of internal heat continuously keeping the inside of the pie hot, you should aim to include this extra time in the total cooking time that the pie will take.
If the pie takes a certain amount of time to cook, you should subtract several minutes to allow for the pie to finish cooking all the way through when it is time to take it out of the oven.
This will save you a considerable amount of hassle in the end when you are able to effectively plan for the additional time your pie will cook for. Instead of worrying about how your pie is going to look when you take it out of the oven, you can focus on ensuring that it will have that silky smooth texture that everyone knows and comes to associate with the beloved pumpkin pie.
If your pumpkin pie is already cracked, then there isn’t much that can be done for that pie’s appearance. With that being said, if you do not have the time or resources to immediately bake another pie, there are some ways that you can conceal the cracks on the pie surface.
Depending on the occasion for the pumpkin pie, you can either smooth the pie down a bit with a butterknife, moving some of the pie filling into the cracks in the process, or you can consider covering the entire pumpkin pie in vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to obfuscate the cracks.
Both solutions will leave you with a pumpkin pie that looks as good as new and that nobody would suspect having cracks in it.
Once you have a good understanding of not only what goes on inside the pie to cause this to happen, but that you also have a good idea that you can try to fix your pie with, you can feel confident knowing that no matter what happens to the pie, you will be able to be proud to serve it to friends and family alike.
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.