No matter how many servings you have of mashed potatoes or green bean casserole, you have to leave room for a slice of pumpkin pie — it's arguably the best part of Thanksgiving! With it's silky-smooth appearance, it's almost too beautiful to eat. But if you've ever offered to bring dessert on the big day, you know a cracked pumpkin pie doesn't make for a pretty table centerpiece.
Because pumpkin pie is a custard-based dessert, the filling is very sensitive to temperature and will begin to crack if it's overbaked. Pumpkin pie filling is made from very few ingredients, the key one being eggs. As the eggs coagulate, or turn solid, the filling thickens and eventually turns into that yummy semisolid pie filling. However, if the filling is left in the oven for too long, the eggs will begin to overcook and tighten up, forming cracks in the pie.
Whereas you might rely on a trusty toothpick to tell when your dessert has baked all the way through, that is not the case with pumpkin pie. Your strongest weapon against a cracked pie is baking your pie on the lower rack and following the recipe step by step. Even if the pie looks underdone, remove it from the oven as soon as the timer goes off. Remember, the pie will continue to bake as it cools, which could take several hours.
Despite how tempting it might be to cut yourself a slice, letting the pie cool is vital because it allows the crust and center to set. The last thing you want is a gooey center and all your hard work going to waste. And with a firm center, you'll be able to get a more crisp, distinct slice without the mess.
So, what happens if your delicious pumpkin pie does crack? Don't fret, there's a few things you can do to salvage the pie. You can decorate with a layer of whipped cream or try adding a topping like chocolate chips, pecans, or a decorative cookie. Either way, a cracked pumpkin pie is better than no pie at all, and you can always try again on Christmas!