Stop Pie Filling Sinking-Shrinking to Cracks and Craters.
Posted by Warren
No more shrinking, no more cracks, no more dropped pie fillings. Total prevention time 1 min
The crater filling
fruit and custard pies.
The number one reason why your pie filling cracks, shrinks and drops in the center is it was over-cooked.
Two things will over-cook the pie filling:
- Oven was too hot.
- It stayed too long in the oven.
It isn't done yet!
Sometimes, especially a mini pie, the filling cooks prior to the crust turning golden and the bottom crusr being done. So you bake the whole pie longer while the pie filling over-cooks.
Even though we have little control over the baking time, there are things we can do to minimize the effects of a shrinking filling.
What really happened to my swelling then shrinking pie filling?
As the filling cooks it will start to boil. The pie filling must boil or cook for at least ten minutes to set the custard or throughly cook the fruit. Beyond this point, the filling runs into the danger zone.
Your Pie Filling is flying away.
While the filling cooks, water is escaping from the filling in the way of steam. As the water boils out of the filling, the volume of the filling drops. The filling shrinks in size and volume, getting lighter and lighter.
You do not notice this happening while in the oven because the steam in the pie is artificially inflating or keeping the filling lifted up.
As the pie cools, the steam is no longer present to keep the filling inflated. So it falls, cracks and do ugly things trying to compensate for the loss of water that escaped.
It cracks because the filling swells in the hot oven and then shrinks when it cools. If it cools too fast it will shrink too fast leaving a crack down the middle.
It shrinks the most at the center since that is where the filling is the thickest and where most of the water was removed.
So what can we do to prevent the pie filling from cracking, shrinking and falling?
1. Remember hot temperatures cook the crust and low temperatures cook the filling. So put the pie in a hot oven and drop the temperature after 10 to 15 minutes.
2. To slow down the shrinkage or falling of the filling, let the pie cool down in the oven gradually.
When the pie crust is completely cooked and golden, turn off the oven but leave the pie in.
Let it sit in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes in an off-oven. Crack open the oven door, and let the pie cool down slowly for 10 to 20 minutes more.
Now it should be safe to remove the pie.
Why leave the pie in the oven while it is off?
What we are doing is allowing the filling to gain strength as it cools down.
The process of slowly cooling the pie filling allows the starches (thickeners) or custard to build strength and body. This will support the structure of the pie filling as the rising steam in the pie stops its support of the filling.
If this is done correctly, it will minimize the pie filling falling, cracking and shrinking.
Some Do Nots to follow
- Do not let the pie filling puff up like a “soufflé”.
- Do not let custard based fillings cook until the center is completely set.
Remember low heat will cook the center only. High heat will only cook the crust. We need to be in the middle with the hopes that the crust and filling will complete baking at the same time.
—Pie Tips: My pumpkin and custard fillings separate from the crust—
Stop pie crust and pumpkin filling from separating:
Is there a secret to stopping my pumpkin pie filling from separating from the crust?
A pumpkin or custard pie filling separates from the crust due to shrinkage. This is a normal part of the cooling process.
The fact is, all baked goods shrink as they cool due to the evaporation of moisture during baking. In a pie, the filling and crust are shrinking in opposite directions. This often results in separation.
Here are things you can do to reduce the chance of this happening.
- One is to avoid extreme changes in temperature while baking.
- Choose a warm spot to cool your pie that is free of drafts.
- Lastly, do not chill the pie in the refrigerator until it has cooled completely at room temperature.