It’s that time of year for delicious baked goods, and there’s probably no dessert more closely associated with holiday baking than pumpkin pie. From October through the end of the holiday season, the world becomes obsessed with all things pumpkin, and you’ll never go wrong with a classic pumpkin pie.
Baking the perfect pumpkin pie can be a pressure-filled experience. With a holiday dessert that’s this important, you’ll want to make sure you get it just right.
If you’re not a baking pro, you might find that one of the most difficult parts of baking a pumpkin pie from scratch is figuring out exactly when to take it out of the oven. Nobody wants an underdone pie with a soggy crust or a mushy filling that doesn’t hold its shape.
On the other hand, a rubbery overcooked pumpkin pie with a burnt crust is just as bad. Not to worry – we’ve created this handy guide to help you tell if pumpkin pie is done. Follow these tips, and you’ll be enjoying a perfectly baked pie with a creamy and delicious filling and perfect golden brown and flaky crust in no time.
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Prepare your Equipment
You can make things a lot easier for yourself if you set your kitchen up for pie baking success. Making sure that you have the proper equipment and supplies is the simplest way to take the guesswork out of your baking. Here are some easy steps to take as you’re preparing to bake your pumpkin pie.
Check Your Over Temperature – You probably already know that different ovens can bake very differently, and that oven temperature settings aren’t always perfectly accurate. If you don’t already have one, it may be worth it to buy an oven thermometer, so you can make sure that your oven is actually heating to the temperature that you’ve set it to.
Use the Right Oven Rack – Your pumpkin pie recipe should tell you which rack the pie should be placed on for best results. When in doubt, go with the rack in the lower third of the oven. If the pie bakes too close to the oven’s top heating element, it could develop a skin on top, or the pumpkin pie filling could start to pull away from the crust.
Preheat Your Oven – Make sure to wait until the oven is fully preheated before you put in your pie. If you start baking before the oven comes to the correct temperature, it may not bake evenly.
Keep the Oven Door Closed – It may be tempting to check on the progress of your pie frequently as it’s baking, but don’t do it! If you open the oven door more than absolutely necessary, the oven may lose too much heat during baking, and this will lower your oven temperature and prolong the baking time. Generally speaking, you’ll want to start checking your pie for doneness between 45 and 60 minutes of baking time, so try not to open the oven until at least 45 minutes in, or until the minimum suggested baking time specified in the recipe has elapsed.
Blind Baking – Experts agree that one of the best ways to ensure a perfectly baked pie is with blind baking. This refers to the technique of partially baking the pie shell by itself on a higher temperature before pouring in your unbaked pumpkin filling and completing the baking process on a lower temp.
Doing this will help you to get the crust crispy on the bottom while preventing the filling from cracking too much.
Testing Your Pie’s Doneness
Now that you’ve got your pie in the oven, let’s talk about some methods and visual cues that will help you determine when it’s time to take it out. Keep in mind that you may want to use a combination of these to ensure that you’ve got a fully cooked pumpkin pie that’s ready to remove from the oven.
The Toothpick Test – You may be familiar with the toothpick test for determining if a cake is done, and this simple yet effective method also works for pumpkin pie. Insert a toothpick, a long wooden skewer, or a knife into the center of the pie, and if it comes clean, it’s ready to go.
The Jiggle Test – A perfectly baked pie will have set edges and just a bit of jiggle to the center when it’s ready to come out of the oven. If the entire pie is wobbly, it needs more time. Keep in mind that the custard filling will continue to cook for a bit as the pie cools down.
Look for a Darker Color – One of the easiest ways to tell if your pie is ready is to look at the filling. As your pie cooks, it should darken slightly in color and puff up a bit. There also may be just a bit of cracking where the edges of the pie meet the crust. The pie should depuff as it cools down.
Use a Thermometer – When a pumpkin pie is done baking, the internal temperature should be around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, according to FDA guidelines. You can use an instant-read food thermometer to check this.
The obvious problem with using a thermometer is that you’ll have a hole in the center of your pie, but you can always cover it up with a pie dough cut out or some strategically placed whipped cream.
What to Do Next
Once your pie is out of the oven, you’ll want to allow several hours for it to cool and chill. This is necessary for the pie to hold its shape when cut (and it tastes much better chilled too), so be sure to plan ahead. Leave the pie on a cooling rack at room temperature for 1-2 hours while the filling firms up and continues to bake. Then, you can move it to the refrigerator to chill and allow the filling to set completely.
How to Store Your Pumpkin Pie
Once the pie has cooked completely, you can wrap it loosely in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Keep in mind that if the pie is even slightly warm when you wrap it, condensation will form on the plastic and will cause your crust to get soggy. If you’re not planning to serve your pie within a few days, you can freeze it so that it will last longer.
When you’re ready to serve your pie, you can serve it chilled straight from the fridge, or let it warm up slightly before serving if you prefer. And when it comes to accompaniments, nothing beats a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Delicious Pumpkin Pie Recipes to Try
Now that you’ve got all the pumpkin pie baking knowledge you need, you’re going to need some delicious and easy pumpkin pie recipes to try for the holiday season. When it comes to a classic pumpkin pie, this aptly named Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe is my absolute favorite. Not only is it creamy and delicious with a perfectly spiced custard filling, but it uses premade pie crust to save time, and it’s super easy to make.
But there’s no rule that you have to make a traditional recipe pumpkin pie. In fact, if you want to skip the baking entirely but still want that classic pumpkin pie taste, you’ll love this no-bake Cool Whip Pumpkin Pie.
Whether this is your first time baking a homemade pumpkin pie, or whether it’s an annual tradition, I hope these tips and tricks will help you bake with confidence and create a pumpkin pie that will be the star of your holiday dinner.
Easy Pumpkin Recipes
- Pumpkin Lush
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
- Pumpkin Dump Cake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip
- Cool Whip Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Sheet Cake
- The Best Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
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