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Crust for Pumpkin Pie

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
It's only the first week in October but I'm beginning to plan for Thanksgiving.

I've always used a pre baked flaky pie crust for the pumpkin pie and I'm now (after only 20 years!!) wondering if that's the right choice. No matter what I do, the crust is always a bit too soggy on the bottom. Not surprising really with such a wet filling.

So the question is, is a flaky crust the way to go with a custard filling or is there a better choice?

Thank you
post #2 of 13
Brush the bottom of crust and sides with egg white, put in hot oven a few minutes then fill . The white congeels and forms a thin moistureproof seal on the pastry.
post #3 of 13
Pie crusts are considered either "flaky" or "mealy" based on the mixing method employed. Most people think a pie crust is a pie crust. Not so, you have to choose the correct crust for the pie you are making.

A Flaky crust or Pate' Brisee, is best for pie top crusts, lattice tops, and pre-baked shells that will be filled shortly before being served. Flaky dough will absorb moisture and be soggy if baked raw along with the filling, as in apple pie.

A Mealy crust is a raw crust baked along with the filling. It's used whenever a soggy crust would be a problem, like with custard or fruit pies, because it resists soaking better than a flaky dough.

Both doughs are made with the same ingredients, by cutting cold fat into flour, but the mixing method and size of the fat will dictate your flaky or mealy result.

The larger the pieces of fat in your crust, the flakier the crust will be. So, when you're mixing, stop when the pieces of fat coated in flour are the size of pebbles or gravel. If you continue to mix so that the fat pieces are like coarse sand, then you have a mealy crust that will not be as soggy.

Then, as Ed says, you can brush the crust with egg wash for color and texture, but start with the correct mixing method and you'll have better results.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you gentlemen.

Chef Ed, I've used the egg white trick with only limited success. My thinking has been kinda along the same lines as Chef Mohr; use a different crust. i guess I just needed that validated.

Thanks again for your time.
post #5 of 13
Pumpkin pie is one of the few custard pies (or tarts) traditionally baked in a raw crust, i.e., a crust which wasn't previously blind-baked. A slightly soggy transition between crust and custard is both typical and traditional. Whether the style of baking was chosen for the result, or the result is an accidental artifact of the style of baking is anyone's guess.

You certainly could blind bake (or better, partially blind bake) the crust, then seal it before pouring in the pumpkin custard. Egg white is a typical sealant for savory dishes, but jams and jellies work better. There are a lot of choices which would mate well with pumpkin.

Since Chef Todd brought up the subject of technical crusts, you might have better luck with a pate sucree than a pate brisee. Everything else being equal, pate sucree crusts are crispier and don't get as soggy as pate brisee. Pasta frolla is pretty much the same thing as pate sucree. Both names ought to get you plenty of hits if you search. At any rate, I use a pate sucree, make the pumpkin custard with bourbon inter alia, and decorate the top with pecans.

Chef Todd is on the money in his disucssion of fat and its effect on flakiness/crumbliness. Larger, flatter pieces of fat make a flakier crust than smaller, rounder pieces which make for a more crumbly crust. The size of the fat pieces are an artifact of the type of fat used, it's temperature, and the technique and skill used to cut in.

There's no law requiring you to use a dough crust. You could make yours from crumb or even nuts. Both work well with custard pies and tarts. True, they're not exactly traditional. But, so what? Actually... they're both very fragile. You'd do better baking in a springform or a false-bottom tart pan than in a pie pan unless and until you get a really good handle on them. Again, no rule which says you can't serve pumpkin tart.

Speaking of tarts, you could use a pate sablee. It's a sort of shortbread crust -- very nice and very crumbly.

post #6 of 13
cani just add that I've never eaten a pumpkin pie that has had a crisp crust. . doesnt just about every pie get a soggy bottom? i think i need to go out and do some serious R&D on this pie subject. ..

ps. i completely bake the crusts for pecan and pumpkin pies before adding the filling. it helps with soggy bottom syndrom, but eventually, the moisture gets to it making it less crisp anyway.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hmmm, the comments on the inevitibility of some degree of sogginess are very informative. I may be trying to attain the unattainable with a crispy bottom crust. I won't give up the quest but I won't beat myself up so much either. Thanks a bunch for the feedback.
post #8 of 13
Any custard type pie of which pumpkin is a form of is extremely difficult to make with out some degree of weeping into the pastry. Don't forget you are not relying on a starch thickener which holds liquid, but egg which retains less and will seep thru. The longer held the more it will weep, and if frozen even more-so.:chef:
post #9 of 13
I have just finished eating a piece of pumpkin pie with a crisp crust - so it can be done! I believe that the trick is to roll the dough out quite thin. I use about half as much dough as recommended for all the pies I make (and I make about 50 a day), so there is no doughyness just flake and crispness.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Do you prebake your crust Pie Lady?
post #11 of 13
Hi Jock,

I do not prebake the crust. I do however always have a bit of sugar (2T for 3Lbs of Pastry) even in crust for savory pie, and this helps to crisp the crust.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'm going to try one tomorrow as a test.
post #13 of 13
I'm fond of chocolate as a sealant in blind baked crusts. Use a rather fluid couverture chocolate, a bit hotter than tempered temperature, and put it on a minute or so after the crusts come out of the oven. It's possible to get a very thin layer that isn't detectable as a layer of chocolate, but still keeps the filling separate from the crust.

I sometimes use chocolate with savory pies, also to good effect.
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