The most important part of Thanksgiving is the dessert, in my opinion. When you go through the effort of making a pumpkin pie from scratch, you want the finished product to be absolutely perfect. But kitchen mistakes happen, and you may find yourself asking, why did my pumpkin pie crack?
If this happens to you, its no big deal! Just like fixing a cracked cheesecake, hiding a cracked pumpkin pie is easy. And the best news: Preventing your pie from cracking in the first place is so simple. Our Test Kitchens pro bakershave all the tips.
Why did my pumpkin pie crack?
Simply put, a crack in the center of a pumpkin pie means the pie spent too long in the oven, saysMark Neufang in the Test Kitchen. When egg-rich pies bake for too long, the eggs coagulate, overcook and cause a fissure in the top of the pie.
Another reason your pie may crack, according to Mark, is if you cool it too quickly. Pumpkin pie should be cooled at room temperature on a wire rack. If you try to shorten the cooling process by stuffing the pie in the fridge, you can end up with a cracked pie. Have patience!
How to Prevent a Pumpkin Pie from Cracking
So how do you prevent your pie from scarring? There are a few steps to take so you never have to ask why yourpumpkin pieis cracked again.
Its so tempting to leave the pumpkin pie in the oven until it looks completely set, saysCatherine Wardin the Test Kitchen. Resist that urge!
Instead, bake as directed. As the pie approaches the end of the bake time, it should appear set around the sides and jiggly, almost like Jell-O, in the center, says Mark. To test this, give the side of the pie dish a tap with a wooden spoon, much like you would a cheesecake.
It might seem counterintuitive to take out the pie when it doesnt look completely done, but Catherine says that the wobble should not scare bakers away from trusting the bake time on the recipe.
Lower the oven rack
Another way to prevent cracking is to bake your pie on a lower rack, Catherine says. Lowering the oven rack will prevent the top from cooking too quickly, browning and drying out, she says. All those things can lead to a crack.
Check the oven temperature
Even if you bake the pie at the right temperature on the right rack, you may still have baking issues. If thats the case, check that your ovens temperature is accurate.
I keep anoven thermometer in my oven at all times so there are no surprises, says Catherine. You dont want to put the pie in at 375F and find that the oven is actually heating over 400.
To be extra cautious, Mark recommends leaving the pie in the oven, shutting it off and leaving the door ajar to let the pie cool more slowly. After 10 minutes, move the pie to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Fix a Cracked Pumpkin Pie
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pumpkin pie will crack. Dont fret for a second. The pie will still taste delicious! Then check out these pointers from former Taste of Home food stylist Shannon Norris.
Whipped cream:Homemade whipped creammakes everything better. Shannon says, place it in a piping bag with a star tip and itll look totally intentional.Confectioners sugar:Dust the top of the pie with confectioners sugar. You could even use a cookie cutter or stencil to make a festive design, recommends Shannon.Cookie crumbles:Crumble your favorite cookies, like shortbread or graham crackers, on top for a makeshift crumble topping, says Shannon. Her favorite cookie to crush: these maple cookies from Trader Joes.Nuts:Sprinkle the top of the pie withtoasted nutsor evencandied pecans.Pie crust cutouts:An easy but impressive way to cover up any mistakes is with extra pie crust. Use scraps of pie dough to cut out decorative shapes like leaves and pumpkins, Shannon suggests. Bake, then place on top of the pie.Sugared cranberries:Pumpkin and cranberry are both quintessential fall ingredients. Pilesugared cranberrieson top of a slightly imperfect pie for flair and flavor.
With the right techniques for avoiding a cracked pie and tips for covering it up if things go wrong, youre ready to serve the best-ever pumpkin pie.