Pumpkin Pies & Custard Pies Article - Allrecipes.com
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Pumpkin Pies & Custard Pies

Get top-rated recipes and discover tips for baking perfect pies.





Tricks of the Trade

If you can, prepare the custard ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before baking. This allows the ingredients to blend thoroughly and may help prevent "weeping," or the release of extra moisture, once the pie has been chilled.

  • A layer of cookie crumbs in the bottom of a pre-baked crust adds delicious flavor--and the crumbs can also absorb extra moisture in the finished pie. Try crushed gingersnaps in the bottom of your pumpkin pie.

  • Sometimes, when pre-baking a pie crust, the crust cracks. Plan ahead when rolling out the dough and reserve any scraps. Use these to patch the crust before pouring in the filling: this will keep the custard from leaking through the cracks.


Pre-bake the Crust

To avoid a soggy, still-raw bottom crust, bake the crust before pouring in the filling.

  • Line the pie crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and enough dry beans, rice or pie weights to come most of the way up the sides.
  • Bake at 450 degrees F (220 degrees C) until the edges are lightly browned and the walls of the crust have lost their raw look, from eight to twenty minutes, depending upon the thickness of the crust. 
  • Remove the pie shell from the oven, and carefully remove the paper or foil full of beans. 
  • Prick with fork to avoid air bubbles. 
  • Use an egg wash to create a seal: lightly beat an egg with a tablespoon of cold water or milk, and brush the sides and bottom of the crust with the egg wash.
  • Return the crust to the oven and bake an additional two to three minutes, until the egg wash is dry and golden.


Cracking, Weeping, and Other Pie Problems

Like cheesecakes, custard pies crack when they're over-baked. Why? Because the edges finish cooking before the center has set: and as the pie cools, it shrinks, forming cracks. Here are some things to keep in mind to side-step these and any other baking issues:

  • Prevent cracks by baking the pie at a moderate temperature, and--even better--bake custard pies in a water bath. This prevents the outer layer of custard from baking too fast.
  • To avoid burns or dropped pies, only use heavy-duty aluminum, glass or ceramic pie pans: disposable foil pans are too shallow, are hard to grip, and can buckle when you try to remove them from a water bath. 
  • Use a rimmed baking sheet or glass baking pan big enough to hold the pie.
  • Place the baked crust in the pan, add the custard, and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. 
  • Use a teakettle of hot water to pour in a depth of about half an inch; you can always add more water later, as it evaporates.
  • Remove the pie from the oven when the edges are set but the center still has a little "wiggle." If the filling has started to puff up and soufflé, you've waited too long!
  • If you're using a water bath, take extra care. If your pie plate has handles or a deep rim, you can remove it from the water bath in the oven, leaving the water to cool before discarding. Otherwise, bring the whole pan out of the oven very slowly and steadily. 
  • Remove the pie from the water bath to cool on a rack.


Think Outside the Pumpkin


Besides pumpkin, butternut, acorn, turban, delicata and dumpling squash make terrific pies. The process of preparing winter squash for pies is a bit time-consuming, but well worth the effort.



Custard Pie Safety Tip

Once the pie has cooled enough to hold the pan in your hands, transfer it from the counter to the fridge. Always store custard pies in the refrigerator: the eggs and milk in the custard can encourage bacterial growth that can be hazardous to your health.


    Find more recipes for custard and cream pies.

    Discover our Top 20 Pie Recipes.

    Get recipes for pie crusts.

      Comments
      liz 
      Oct. 23, 2009 6:10 pm
      How do you use a water bath for a cheesecake?
       
      doctor 
      Oct. 29, 2009 3:47 pm
      To use a water bath: 1) Place springform pan inside a large turkey roasting bag and roll sides of bag down, to just above rim of springform. 2) Place springform and bag inside a large roasting pan. 3) Place roasting pan in oven. 4) Heat water in a tea kettle, and add to roasting pan, until it comes halfway up sides of springform. 5) Bake cheesecake until set on edges, but still jiggly in middle. NOTE: Every recipe says to wrap the pan in foil, but these roasting bags work much better, and don't leak. Just be careful when removing the cheesecake from the bag, and try not to hit the top of the cake with the plastic.
       
      Ghaass 
      Nov. 8, 2009 7:15 pm
      Thats a good idea
       
      Nov. 12, 2009 4:59 am
      Thats an exellent idea! It would save a lot of time. Wrapping a double thickness of heavy duty foil around a springform pan carefully, so as to avoid rips in the foil, is time consuming! Great tip! Thank You! Charles B.
       
      RITA 
      Nov. 12, 2009 11:06 am
      Thanks for all the great answers. When I take the time to try and do it right from scratch it better turn out!!! or I get discouraged. Thanks again.
       
      Nov. 16, 2009 5:24 pm
      How do you keep the crust from getting too done while waiting for the pumpkin to cook?
       
      Alfiesmom 
      Nov. 17, 2009 9:32 am
      how far in advance can i make my pumpkin pies. i know i'll have to refrigerate, but aren't they better fresh? or closer to the big day?
       
      Mimi 
      Nov. 18, 2009 12:19 pm
      Cryslyn, I've always just wrapped the crust with foil while baking and removed it for the last 15 minutes. If you want, you can coat it with an egg mixture after removing the foil...makes it shiny too ;-)
       
      Rickie luvs 2 cook. 
      Nov. 18, 2009 5:02 pm
      I am new to this sight and already I am blown away with all the reicpes and information. A guy who loves to cook for family and friends. Now I can find and enjoy all kinds of new ways to imporove my old ways. I too will try to add some of my own recipies. Happy cooking to all. Rickie.
       
      Phyllis 
      Nov. 20, 2009 5:01 am
      I just heard using Vodka in your pie crust recipe makes an excellent crust. It didn't say how much Vodka to use. It did say liquor cooks off and leaves no taste.
       
      Nov. 22, 2009 12:16 am
      Phyllis, I bet a TBS of Amaretto would be great in a Pumpkin Pie crust. I would use it in place of water. AND you can get the alcohol colder than the water cuz it doesnt freeze. Good suggestion!
       
      Nov. 22, 2009 12:17 am
      Do you do a water bath with every pie or just the custards. Pumpkin? Apple? Pecan?
       
      lee 
      Dec. 1, 2009 9:11 pm
      I've read to make a lemon meringue pie.To put meringue on a "hot filling". When I did that, the meringue had a lot of water, and almost slid off the pie. "HELP" lEE
       
      Stephen Walter 
      Dec. 13, 2009 12:32 pm
      What causes a egg custard pie to shrink.
       
      jean 
      Dec. 17, 2009 2:08 pm
      my ginger snap ppie crustbrowns too much. any help?
       
      mscaylor 
      Apr. 4, 2010 8:50 pm
      When I make pumpkin or custard pie, I always add a generous sprinkle of nutmeg to my pie dough. Sprinkle it over the flour before adding liquid. Also, ground nuts added to the dough add great flavor.
       
      mscaylor 
      Jul. 18, 2010 8:45 pm
      I use aluminum piecrust rings to prevent overbrowning. They are lightweight and fairly easy to find.
       
      j.sorenson 
      Aug. 11, 2010 2:24 pm
      Has anyone heard of a Carrot custard cake? My brother-in-law is very sure he had one. I'm at a loss of where to start looking.
       
      coco 
      Oct. 1, 2010 9:32 pm
      re:overbrowning of piecrusts: I make my own piecrust rings from a used foil piepan - just cut out the middle - you can use the same one over & over- save money & recycle. Happy baking - Coco
       
      Paulette 
      Oct. 20, 2010 8:23 am
      For an added spicy pumpkin pie flavor, try making your whip cream with honey, and ginger/pumpkin pie spice instead of sugar and vanilla.
       
      Nov. 1, 2010 4:04 pm
      To Alfiesmom, I spend all day the day before Thanksgiving doing my baking. That way I have Thanksgiving day for the turkey.
       
      cjbaer 
      Nov. 5, 2010 6:53 pm
      I whip an egg and brush it onto my crust before adding the pumpkin or custard filling, I let it set until it dries, this keeps the crust dry and gives the scalloped edges a golden glow.
       
      kimberlee 
      Nov. 8, 2010 8:55 am
      Ok, I think I got it now. Dont over bake a pumpkin pie and use a water bath so it wont shrink away from the crust. Is this correct? I hate when it comes out looking good, but by the time desert is served it has shrunk away from the crust. Any other helpfull hints are truely appreciated.
       
      Nov. 12, 2010 9:37 pm
      I would skip the water bath! All you really need for a custard type pie is a moist oven! Put a pan of water on the shelf beneath the pie and you will have a moist oven and no risk of getting the pie wet!
       
      Jelena 
      Nov. 18, 2010 5:40 am
      for me the problem is that the top of my pumpkin pie always gets kind of hard, like a film or something. Under it it's perfect, but the top always looks bad. And kind of cracks too. Am I baking it too long or at too high of a temp? I followed the recipe exactly and same thing happens every time. Should I cover the whole pie with foil? any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! :)
       
      Nov. 21, 2010 5:33 am
      Bake all fruit & custard style pies-at 425* 15 min. 350* 45 min. to an hour. Depends on oven. The best pie crust ever is my Swedish grandmothers. PIE CRUST 3 CUPS FLOUR, 1 CUP COLD LARD, 1/2 CUP COLD BUTTER, 3/4 CUP ICE WATER 1 TSP. SALT. THIS WILL MAKE 3 CRUSTS NOW IF YOU WANT 4 IT IS 4 CUPS FLOUR, 1 1/4 CUP LARD + 3/4 CUP BUTTER, 1 CUP ICE WATER 1 1/2 TSP SALT. FLOUR, SALT, BUTTER, & LARD IN BOWL USE THUMB & 2 FINGER MOVEMENT TO MAKE THE PARTICLES LOOK LIKE CORN FLAKES THE SMEARING MOVEMENT INCORPORATES THE FLOUR INTO LARD & IT MAKES A VERY FLAKLY DOUGH. WHEN IT IS WELL INCORPORATED [NO LOOSE FLOUR ON THE BOTTOM] ADD WATER. DEPENDING ON THE HUMIDITY YOU MAY NOT NEED AS MUCH. YOUR DOUGH SHOULD BE ALL IN A NICE BALL. LET IT SIT 15 MIN. SO THE FLOUR CAN ABSORB THE LIQUID. USE A WELL FLOURED MAT THE 18" x 25" SILICONE MATS ARE GREAT. DIVIDE DOUGH INTO 3 BALLS ROLL 3-5 TIMES FLIP OVER MAKING SURE MAT HAS FLOUR. ROLL OUT TURNING ROLLING PIN 45* DEGREES EACH TIME THAT WILL GIVE
       
      Shayne74May 
      Nov. 24, 2010 11:31 am
      I have always enjoyed a graham cracker crust with my pumpkin pie. The flavor goes so much better with the pumpkin than just a plain old pastry pie crust.
       
      Diana 
      Oct. 3, 2011 10:13 am
      i am looking for a pumpkin chiffon pie
       
      sandy1 
      Oct. 4, 2011 6:20 pm
      Jelena, go to the store or hardware store and get an oven thermometer to check you oven. Then make sure you bake it on the right shelf, usually in the middle. Ovens vary and have one I had to bake on the bottom rung and my new one in the middles.
       
      alexsandra 
      Oct. 11, 2011 3:25 pm
      This is my first question on all recipes. The only issue I have when baking pumpkin or pecan pie is the texture of my pies. They appear done, tooth pick comes out clean, but once it's cooled and I slice a piece it looks like it's curdled and a little runny, instead of thick with a pudding like texture like store made pies. What should I be doing different? I do prefer a nice smooth thick texture in my pumpkin, pecan pies.
       
      trixie05 
      Nov. 11, 2011 9:45 am
      trixie05 How do you get the strings i call them from out of the sweet potatoes before making the pies I always have a problem with that
       
      Frank 
      Dec. 4, 2011 2:13 pm
      I followed an AllRecipes.com recipe for a lemon meringue pie (Recipes/grandmas-lemon-meringue-pie) and twice I cannot get the custard to thicken. I followed the recipe slavishly. Exactly. Nothing, twice in a row. Could it be that I used 1% milk instead of whole milk? Is it possible my corn starch is not fresh enough? (I've bought a new box for another try). Help! I am running out of eggs and patience!
       
      Frank 
      Dec. 4, 2011 2:25 pm
      Trixie, I read a recipe that suggested taking the mashed sweet potatoes and using the paddle beater of your mixer (I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer) to whip them. The strings attach themselves to the beater and can easily be pulled off. Worked for me. I started out with sweet potatoes that I baked till done, let cool, pulled the skins off, cut off a couple of knotty-stringy nubs, and then mashed them with a potato masher before putting them into the mixer with the paddle blade.
       
      christykorea 
      Dec. 31, 2011 4:03 pm
      T_T... for some reason these days, I occasionally take out the cake or pie before it is fully cooked. I find that after it cools down, there are still parts of the batter that is still wet. Is there a way to save my cakes/pies?
       
      Eve 
      Jan. 7, 2012 7:51 pm
      Can anyone help me with a lemon meringue pie filling? Mine ended up with this weird eggy after taste. Did I over cook or under cook the egg? Everything else was fine about it. Thanks.
       
      Eve 
      Jan. 7, 2012 7:59 pm
      Lee, the meringue part is the only part I got right. I followed Lemon Meringue pie III. Add sugar as soon as egg whites get foamy, Beat on high until egg whites are shiny and stiff. Make extra meringue to ensure that when you top your pie it goes over all the filling and a little on to your crust. That's what they mean by seal. Tiny moisture beads are okay by me but weeping ruins it all. Let it cool for 2 hours at room temperature. Don't refrigerate it before then
       
      Ann 
      Mar. 18, 2014 5:49 pm
      Years ago I use to make a very good Chocolate Pie. It's been several years since I've made one until lately and they turned out awful. I mix all the ingredients together like I use to and pour it into a baked pie shell and for some unknown reason after cooking the pie filling has settled down to the bottom of the pie crust and looks a lot like choc pudding with most of the choc on top. It gets firm and dry next to the edges of the crust and the center is very loose. Does not get firm. I tried a choc chess pie and the pie filling settled in the bottom next to the crust and all the choc went to the top. The pie was two different colors. I tried cooking on 325 degrees instead of 350 and bought a new box coco and that didn't work either. Can you please tell me what I'm doing wrong. Desperate in NC.
       
      DarrensAngel 
      Dec. 13, 2014 4:55 am
      I have been baking pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving AND Christmas for 32 years, and I never put them in the fridge. I leave them on the counter for 3, sometimes four days. After that period of time, I put them in the fridge. No one has ever gotten ill from the way I do this.
       
       
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