I'm getting into baking. My first project was eclairs, and I got good results. My second project is pie crust and I am getting confusing results. If I blind bake crusts I get good texture and flavor. When I try to make a pumpkin pie, baking the crust at the same time as the filling, for one hour, the crust becomes hard. This happens both with a store-bought crust (Pillsbury) and a made-from-scratch flaky crust recipe. I avoid burnt edges with foil, so that's not a problem. What's happening?
I want to add a few points. I found pumpkin pie recipes on foodtv.com. In them the crust is prebaked blind, then the filling is added and the pie baked about an hour to set the filling. I need to try this.
Also, in the book "Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs, by Gale Gand there is something relevant. She uses heavy aluminum pie pans, rather than glass. She says that glass pans bake the crust too fast. I have been using glass as is generally recommended. (She did not go so far as to say that she prebakes the crust.)
I've always baked my pumpkin pies in a raw crust and never had a problem. Same with fruit pies like apple. I have always baked my pies in pyrex pie plates, too. One thing my apple pie recipe instructs is to place the pie plate on a baking sheet, then place the whole thing on the oven rack. I haven't baked a pumpkin pie in a long time, so I can't remember if that's what I do, too. But in any event, baking filling in a raw crust and baking in a pyrex pan have never posed problems for me.
One thing I've found helpful in researching problems is to look at a variety of recipes for the same thing. How does the pumpkin pie recipe you've used compare to others you've found? Perhaps the answer lies there. Or Sarah can probably just tell you what's going on!
Post by sarah phillips on Jan 8, 2005 11:46:56 GMT -5
There may be a couple of things going on at once>>>>>We already know that temperature affects the final outcome of a crust -- were both crusts too warm?? Baking a cold versus frozen crust with a moist filling could affect the result, too! (If you used a premade crust, was it frozen or refrigerated?) We know that how you handle the pie crust during mixing (cold versus warm fat) affects its outcome.....Oven temperature (too high) can overbake your crusts, making them brown and turn hard, no matter what type of recipe or source......
As a side theme, I have found in my experimentation, that certain crusts that should be used with certain fillings, only! >>>My theory is that American pie recipes have simply run amuck and are out-of-control......we believe that any crust can go with any filling and prebaking a crust can apply to any crust and filling -- That's why many fillings and crusts fail together -- they are mismatched, as you have sadly found with your recipe........(However... many bakers have trouble making a good crust so their failures aren't always filling/ crust incompatibilities.) Meg did so observantly advise that you look at other crust recipes that work!
... If you notice, tart recipes are very specific......the fillings are carefully paired with their crusts....
I think in your case, perhaps the wrong homemade pie crust recipe was paired with your filling........I have found that pumpkin pies will bake successfully with certain types of crusts, only.....Check out the pie crust I created to go with a Pumpkin Pie Recipe www.baking911.com/recipe_pies_pumpkin_reducedfat.htm Ignor the reduced-fat moniker...it's simply a foolproof pie crust that can handle custard fillings and an hour plus baking time! Plus, the recipe is really flavorful! (I have another All-Purpose Pie Dough Recipe I created in my Baking 9-1-1 Book, page 130, that works well with other types....I never tried it with a pumpkin pie....I will.)
Other questions I have>>>>What were the ingredients in your recipe and the premade crust?
When making a pumpkin pie, the crust should never be prebaked! I have found that it's simply too much baking when making a pumpkin pie recipe....the crust simply dries out -- some more than others depending on the ingredients!
Prebaking is meant for pies that have premade fillings or ones that are delicate and are meant to be baked under low heat or don't need to spend much time in the oven....Did you prebake both of your pie crusts? If yes, partially or fully? I believe that some bakers are erroneously applying the prebaking-pie-crust technique to the wrong fillings, hence....cardboard pie crusts.....What bakers are trying to do is prebake a pumpkin pie crust to prevent the bottom from becoming mushy ... there are better techniques that can be used to prevent this.....
As Meg mentioned, I too, bake my pies in a Pyrex, glass pie pan set on a foil-lined baking sheet (with short rims or no rims). I don't have heavy aluminum pie pans but I suppose they work well, too -- or anything that holds and conducts the heat. But, I like Pyrex glass because you can see if the bottom of the crust has browned properly.....
I have perforated pie pans, and love them, too for a different purpose -- when prebaking a pie crust -- but they're not heavy. When I set the pie on a foil-line cookie sheet, the direct contact with the heat turns out great PRE-BAKED crusts! I don't use them when making an apple pie because I find my crust turns to cardboard after an hour or more of baking in the oven because the pan simply conducts too much heat too fast.......
P.S.......I, too had trouble this Thanksgiving with a store-bought all-natural frozen crust that I have successfully used with Apple Pies -- It was frozen and then I filled with pumpkin pie filling and baked.....It turned out mushy on the bottom and hard as cardboard on the sides even when placed on a folied-lined baking sheet.....I surmised that the pie didn't bake right because of the crust's ingredients and filling pairing and/or perhaps I erroneously used a frozen crust with a moist filling????
.....I baked the same pumpkin pie filling using my Perfect Pie Crust Recipe, www.baking911.com/recipe_pies_pumpkin_reducedfat.htm and VIOLA! the pie truned out perfectly! Both were baked in the same pan......I did take the cooked filling from the pie with the failed crust after I chilled it and put it in parfait glasses. I topped the filling with chunks of a cooled graham cracker crust I previously baked in the oven in a baking pan. www.baking911.com/recipe_pies_crust_grahamcracker.htm..... I called it Baked Pumpkin Pie Dessert and topped with whipped cream with a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg ! (I tossed the mushy crust!)
(For others....remember these ORIGINAL thoughts, observations and answers expressed here by Sarah Phillips are copyrighted. If anything expressed here is used in printed format or in other media, please credit Sarah Phillips, www.baking911.com)
Thank you Meg and Sarah for your advice. I am conducting pumpkin pie "research" using Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough and Libby's Easy pumpkin filling. At the moment, I'm using Chicago Metallic perforated pie pans. These pans are heavier than the thin supermarket variety. Sarah has some, she knows what they are like. I started out making my own flaky pie dough, but to avoid having to make this over and over I switched to the store bought. It seems that excessively high temperature could be the problem. The last pie was baked at 400 degrees, with the perforated pan. It wasn't as tough a grade of cardboard as one baked in a glass pan. I'm about to bake at 350 degrees (perforated pan on a cookie sheet). My daughter has had good results with pumpkin pie at that temperature, and some recipes specify it. I just put the pan with the raw crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, prior to baking.
The moral of the story seems to be no matter how many recipes you have on the bookshelf, at the beginning you still have to go through the iterations I am going through to get there! As soon as I resolve all my difficulties I will report my progress here. Thank you both for your help.
Well, I finally got a pumpkin pie that I am happy with. As before, I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and Libbys Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix. It was baked in a Chicago Metallic perforated metal pie pan, on an aluminum cookie sheet. The edge was covered with a Mrs. Anderson pie shield, right from the beginning. The key was using a temperature of 350 degrees, also right from the start, none of this starting at a higher temperature and shifting down after 10 minutes or so. It was baked for 50 minutes. The edge wasn't burnt and was somewhat flaky. The rest of the crust under the filling was somewhat flaky and not tough. I think that I have gotten about all there is out of this store bought crust and canned pumpkin mix.
Sarah: I noticed that with the perforated pan, fat from the crust leaked out the holes. Have you also found this? Do you think this is good, bad or indifferent. According to what I have seen on the Internet the holes are supposed to supply air to the crust--nothing was said about them draining fat.
I was wondering if one could develop a pumpkin filling that was precooked so that it could be placed in a prebaked crust, to take advantage of the wonderful flakiness that such prebaked crust has? If this can't be done could the filling be modified with enough thickeners to have a short stay in the oven? Is there something about pumpkin puree that prevents these ideas? I'd like to work on them.
Stan, I believe the issue is not so much the pumpkin but rather the fact that the filing is essentially a custard (eggs & milk). You need slow, steady head to set up a custard. Therefore, you aren't going to be able to drastically cut down on the baking time.
If what you truly want is the flaky pastry crust with some sort of pumpkin filling, you might try a completely different direction with prebaked pastry tart shells filled with some sort of pumpkin mousse.
Post by sarah phillips on Jan 9, 2005 17:55:07 GMT -5
Yes, fat does seep from the baking crust through the holes in a perforated pan -- so, always set it on a foil-lined baking sheet.
I am glad that you found the right oven temperature. As I mentioned earlier (1-8-05), "Oven temperature (too high) can overbake your crusts, making them brown and turn hard, no matter what type of recipe or source......"
The main point about having a wonderful crust with a wonderful pumpkin pie filling is to use a crust that pairs beautifully with a custard filling, such as the one I suggested, www.baking911.com/recipe_pies_pumpkin_reducedfat.htm or a recipe that you like......and/or to develop techniques so your become proficient in pie crust making, so your crusts are always flaky and tender.....
Post by sarah phillips on Jan 10, 2005 16:17:09 GMT -5
Upon further thought.....
P.S. There are ways of making the pie more custard like and slide the pumpkin custard into a pie crust. This is usually quite tricky...
or... partially bake the crust and then make a glaze coating... add the pumpkin pie filling, but it has to be a thin pumpkin pie custard, not a regular one because of the length of time required to bake the crust......
Sarah: I read your suggestion as to how to make a pumpkin pie with a prebaked crust. I need a little clarification. On the second suggestion about partially prebaking the crust, glazing it, and then pouring in the filling, let me see if I understand you.
The prebaking sets the crust into a flaky condition. The glazing more or less insulates the crust from the liquid filling. The final baking sets the custard, and is of limited time so as to prevent overbaking the crust. What do you mean by a thin filling, more milk and eggs and less pumpkin puree? I assume that a thin filling requires less baking time to set than a more customary one, thus acheiving our goal of not overbaking the crust.
Post by sarah phillips on Jan 11, 2005 9:47:44 GMT -5
Yes, you described the process accurately. I don't have a recipe -- you'll have to develop one. Really... there isn't a wonderful way for making pumpkin pie and keeping a true flaky crust....(made with flour, fat, salt and water).
Happy Baking911, Sarah Phillips, President & Founder, baking911.com