How to Prevent Your Pumpkin Pie from Cracking (and How to Fix It if It Does)
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Almost every baker has asked themselves, "why did my pumpkin pie crack?" Our baking pros answer this question and fill you in on the best fixes.
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, it’s no biggie! Just like fixing a cracked cheesecake, hiding any flaws in a pie is simple. And the best news: Preventing your pie from cracking in the first place is so simple. Our Test Kitchen’s pro bakers have 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,” says Mark Neufang in the Test Kitchen. When egg-rich pies like this spend too long in the oven, 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 your pumpkin pie is cracked again.
“It’s so tempting to leave the pumpkin pie in the oven until it looks completely set,” says Catherine Ward in 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,” according to 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 doesn’t look completely done, but Catherine says that the wobble “should not scare bakers away from trusting the bake time on the recipe.”
Lower the Rack in the Oven
Another way to prevent cracking is to bake your pie on a lower rack, advises Catherine. “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 that’s the case, check that your oven’s temperature is accurate.
“I keep an oven thermometer in my oven at all times so there are no surprises,” says Catherine. You don’t want to put the pie in at 375ºF and find that the oven is actually heating over 400º.
You already know to skip the fridge for cooling the pie right from the oven (though pumpkin pies should be stored in the fridge long term).
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 still crack. Don’t fret for a second. First, know that the pie will still taste delicious! Then check out some of these pointers from Senior Food Stylist Shannon Norris.
- Whipped cream: Homemade whipped cream makes everything better. Shannon says, “place it in a piping bag with a star tip and it’ll 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 and put on top: these maple cookies from Trader Joe’s.
- Nuts: Sprinkle the top of the pie with toasted nuts or even candied nuts. Pecans or walnuts would taste great here!
- 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. Pile sugared cranberries on 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, you’re set to serve up the best-ever pumpkin pie.