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Pie makers: do you or don't you ?

Hello All,

This question if for those of you who make custard-based pies (such as pumpkin or sweet potato). Do you, or don't you, prebake (blind bake) your crusts for custard-based fillings?

Since T-day is right around the corner I'm contemplating this year's pumpkin pie. In the past I've followed various recipes that tell one to pour the pumpkin custard into an UNBAKED crust (most recipes I've looked at follow this procedure except for one of the recipes here on CH). In my experience, this makes for a cooked custard but an underbaked (partially raw) crust.

Now I'm thinking that I'll prebake my crust completely- then pour the custard into the cooled crust to bake (will cover edges with tinfoil to prevent over-browning if needs be).

What are your experiences with crusts for custard fillings?

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  1. For pumpkin, I don't prebake.

    For other things, most notably lemon custard, I find prebaking to be essential.

    1 Reply
    1. I usually just use a graham cracker crust because it's easier and 100% foolproof.

      1. I've done unbaked in the past, but since I much prefer fruit pies, I don't think I've ever tasted my pumpkin pies to see if they're nicely baked. ;-)

        This year, however, I'm going to try the shortbread crust from Martha Stewart. It looks delicious!

        1. If yo pre-bake your crust for pumpkin pie, the custard has to bake for 40-50 minutes longer to set, by that time your crust will be someting from beyond... Are you placing your pie on a sheet pan when you bake it? This will prevent the bottom crust from cooking through. You can also partially bake the pie on a lower rack and raise it to the middle of the oven to finish. You could even try par-baking your crust, just til set, then fill and finish baking.
          I also find that glass pie plates cook the bottom crust through better than metal.

          Here's a recipe for a pumpkin pie that is has a precooked custard, than chilled in a crunchy crust, no baking needed:

          Crunchy Crust Pumpkin Pie
          Serves 6

          • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
          • 1/4 cup brown sugar
          • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
          • 1 cup all-purpose flour

          Pie Filling:
          • 1/2 cup sugar
          • 1/4 cup brown sugar
          • 1 cup canned pumpkin
          • 1 cup evaporated milk
          • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
          • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
          • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt
          • 2 eggs, beaten

          1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
          2. Mix ingredients well and spread in a 9 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring a few times with a fork.
          3. Save about 1/2 cup for topping and press the remainder into a 9-inch pie pan. Cool.

          1. Combine all ingredients except eggs in a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring often, until thick.
          2. Add beaten eggs and cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell and sprinkle with reserved topping mixture.
          3. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

          Good luck!

          3 Replies
          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Thank you for the recipe and the response. Yes, I typically place my custard pies on a half sheet pan in the oven; never thought this would keep the crust from cooking through so I'll skip that this year. And yes, I use a glass (Pyrex) pan, too.

            I like your suggestions for either baking the pie low/then higher, OR par-baking. I may try one or the other of these methods.

            1. re: cakewhole

              If you preheat the sheet pan along with the oven, it will jumpstart the crust and help it brown nicely. I assume bushwickgirl was referring to putting the pie pan on an unheated sheet pan, which WOULD slow the baking of the bottom.

              1. re: greygarious

                Yes good idea to preheat that sheet pan. I leave my pizza/bread stone in the oven all the time and just bake my pies on that. They usually crisp up nicely enough.

          2. I always pre-bake my pumpkim pie crust - I can't stand a partially uncooked crust. If you line your crust w/foil and use pie weights when you pre-bake, your crust will not be "something from beyond," as another poster said (great description!) . . . my recipe, a take-off on the America's Test Kitchen one, calls for pre-baking the crust and also cooking the filling. A lot more work than the average pie, but the result is fantastic. I didn't really like pumpkin pie 'til I started baking this version.


            6 Replies
            1. re: gansu girl

              That's a very nice take on pumpkin pie, no canned evap milk, good. Only makes a 9-inch, though, drat. I only have 10-inch.
              The OP stated she was thinking about pre-baking her crust completely, then filling it with the raw custard and baking for possibly another 40 minutes; that's why I was thinking about the pie crust might end up as something from beyond.
              Anyway, I hope the OP tries this and I wish I could this year, too. I will keep it in my file.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Thanks, bushwickgirl - and yes, now looking back at the OP, I looked at the "pre" and "blindbake" stuff and didn't note well the end strategy of completely cooking the crust . . . which I completely agree would be a total disaster.

                I have a 10-in. pie pan and use this recipe - I think it's a little more than a 9-in. but a little less than a 10, so you might want to try it out to see what you think, but I wouldn't say it'd be a disaster/underfilled looking in the 10-in. But yes, it's spicy and delicious, and like I said, I never liked pumpkin pie much 'til this one came along!



                1. re: gansu girl

                  Well, now I'm going to give it a go, just a little extra whipped cream would fill it in nicely . Thanks!

                  1. re: gansu girl

                    gansu girl,
                    I checked out the ATK recipe that you refer to (a few posts above)- looks interesting. THank you for the idea and for the reply.

                    One question: in the post immediately above it sounds like you distinguish between a blindbaked crust and a "completely" cooked crust, and seem to suggest that a blindbaked crust would be fine but a completely baked one would be a disaster. Is a blindbaked crust not completely baked?

                    Also, the ATK recipe you referred to does, as you mentioned, have you blindbake the crust. Does this not result in a completely baked crust?

                    Thanks in advance for clarification.

                    1. re: cakewhole

                      It's confusing b/c blind-baking can be done in two ways - you can fully cook a pie crust that'll be used for a pie filling that doesn't get baked at all, i.e., cream pies. You can also partially bake the crust, for pie fillings that get baked - like my pumpkin pie. The 20 minutes called for in my recipe only partially bakes the crust - the crust bakes the rest of the way with the filling inside (you can use a pie crust cover for the edge if you feel it's getting too brown). Does this make sense?

                      After all this pie talk, I'm getting anxious for next Thursday!


                      1. re: gansu girl

                        Thanks very much for the clarification! This does make sense. Now I just need to decide if I'll do a 20-minute partial bake or go the preheated pizza stone/sheet pan route. And yes- I wish the day would finally get here so I can stop obsessing about pie! Enjoy your baking projects and Thanksgiving.

              2. I think also using a metal pie pan or pyrex one (rather than the prettier ceramic ones) will help the crust get done more if you choose not to blind bake. I use a well-heated pizza stone when I bake with my ceramic pie plate b/c I too HATE the soggy undercrust. But I may try pre-baking having read this thread.

                1. Take a teaspoonful of your egg custard-type filling and smear it all over the unbaked pie crust (which you have poked many fork holes in already so it doesn't swell u in the oven and get out of shape) then PRE-bake it for ten minutes or so. This will fix a thin coat of egginess across the bottom of the crust to protect it before you pour in your filling, thus making the crust less likely to go soggy on you. Then pour in your filling, return to oven, and bake etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Querencia

                    Ooh, interesting technique! I've used egg white as well. The fork hole-poking thing is called docking.

                  2. For pumpkin pie, I would not pre-bake. But I do make my crusts quite thin, and I use a Pyrex pie plate. I feel a pre-baked pie crust with a filling like pumpkin would result in an over-baked crust, and I personally don't mind that area where filling meets crust and it's a little bit soft. In my pies it's never unbaked though, maybe because I make the crust thin.

                    1. Have a look at the recipe for Pumpkin Pie in Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible.

                      In short:
                      1. Don't prebake, but line the crust with pecan/gingersnap crumbs you make
                      2. Bake the pie on a preheated baking/pizza stone

                      The stone helps set the bottom crust right away - it's crispy and definitely cooked through. The crumbs keep the wet filling from seeping into the crust too much before it sets. Easy and no faffing about with egg whites or docking or pie weights or anything.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bakerloo Line

                        Thanks for directing me to R.L.B. Option #2, which seems popular among some other CH'ers, sounds like a great option.

                      2. I find a great trick to making sure that the crust is cooked on the bottom but not overcooked from double baking is to place the pie plate on a preheated baking sheet or pizza stone. it ensures that there is sufficient heat so that the bottom browns and doesn't get immediately soggy.