Ask me how I know. It’s not the food science education, but it should have been.
Last Thanksgiving I made two pies. The first one was the Official Pie for Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a damned good thing that I took my time and followed the directions (for once). It was a thing of beauty, and tasted like one too (thanks, back of the can and crushed Mi-Del gluten free ginger snaps mixed with butter and ripped apart in the Cuisinart). Not very tall, because I used a glass pie plate, but still awesome.
This post is not about that awesome pie, but about the second pie. Ever have a pie come out like this?
Well. I was in a mighty big hurry the second time I made pie, which was in the middle of the holiday rush. I bake cookies a lot, and I’m used adding eggs and sugar first. Whipping those together creates bubbles — helpful in rising cookies and cakes using steam, but absolutely NOT what you want when making a pumpkin custard, which is at the heart of pumpkin pie. The bubbles probably held together because of the egg whites, and as they rose they made that hideous foam that, though still kind of edible, destroyed the texture and look of the pie.
Beating the eggs allows the yolks to properly work as binders between water and fat, and it also prevents some of the bubbles from forming when you add in the pumpkin along with the sugar. Lesson learned.
I dislike following directions, but there’s a reason why Libby’s has had a well-used pumpkin pie recipe for so long. It works. So read the can each time, and with any recipe you use, don’t add the eggs first. Also, low heat and patience, my friends.