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Why does my pumpkin pie always crack?

I have a great recipe that I love but every time I make a pumpkin pie the custard cracks as it cools. Please help me improve my pie aesthetics this Thanksgiving!!!

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  1. There are a couple of reasons your pumpkin pie custard cracks as it cools - and one is the drop in temperature... it swells in the oven, then shrinks as it cools. Another could be over cooking it.
    Mine crack a little too, but I think it looks kinda nice...it certainly didn't effect the taste.

    1. You might try putting a pan of water on the rack beneath the pie eg. pie on the middle rack water pan on the rack below - this works for cheesecakes, not sure how it would affect the texture of the crust though. If all else fails just pipe on whipped cream on and make it pretty ;)

      1. Decrease the cooking time by 5 minutes. The custard will continue to cook after you pull it from the oven, so it won't be undercooked, and it won't crack either.

        1. I would guess it's either overcooked or cooled too quickly. It's a custard so you want to take it out before it's done, should be soft in the middle. I'll bet you could treat it like a cheesecake, too, where you turn off the oven (when pie is soft in middle), leave it open a crack w/ a wooden spoon, and cool the pie in the oven.

          4 Replies
          1. re: chowser

            how long would you allow it to cool in the oven with the door cracked before removing it? 30 minutes? an hour? i've done a waterbath with a cheesecake before, but not oven cooling so i'm unsure as to the timing. thanks for your help!

            1. re: LAcupcake

              For a cheesecake, I do it for an hour so I'd start at 30 minutes for pie and go until it feels warm and you can handle it easily.

              1. re: chowser

                Thanks for your advice and pie wisdom (and thanks to everyone who responded). Seeing as I want these to try all these new techniques and I love pumpkin pie, I think I'm going to devote the next few weeks to practice pies.

                1. re: LAcupcake

                  I don't make pumpkin but a lot of sweet potato, they do continue to cook once you pull them. Its really a matter of practice, jiggle the pie, and if it moves a little yet, take it out. Just like a custard.

          2. I agree; lower the oven temp by 25 degrees, and turn off the oven when the edges are set and slightly wrinkly looking, bu the very middle still has a slight sheen to it. It should jiggle just a bit in the center. Open the oven door, turn off the heat and let it sit in the cooling oven for 10 minutes. It will finish cooking and cool slowly a the same time. Treat eggs and milk g-e-n-t-l-y. The texture will also improve.

            1. It also helps to make a warmed filling. I'm not talking about cooking it, but rather making the custard in a double boiler on the stovetop before pouring it in the crust. It does something to the proteins or some such. The pie should also still jiggle in the center when it's ready to be removed from the oven. If it's totally firm, it's overcooked. If you have room, cool it in the kitchen where it's warm, so it will cool more slowly. (This is easier, of course, if you bake the night or the morning before you're making the meal.)

              1. I agree that the problem is overbaking. My pumpkin pie has cracked the one or two times I baked it too long. When I do it right and take out the pie when the filling is still a little jiggly in the center, the filling does not crack and turns out smooth and beautiful.

                1. Thanksgiving update: I cooled my pies in the oven with the door cracked using a wooden spoon. I left them in for 35 minutes and... only a tiny crack on one, the other was perfect! I also used the same method for my cheesecake and it came out perfect. Thanks everyone!