For a Pumpkin Pie That Doesn’t Crack, Let It Cool in the Oven

Joe Sevier
·3 min read

Claire Saffitz has made a lot of pumpkin pie. As a lifelong lover of pumpkin pie and then as a food editor in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, she’s cooked through more iterations of the Thanksgiving classic than you can imagine. So it was with a very well-informed and opinionated mind that she approached the recipe in her new baking book, Dessert Person.

Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz

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“What I don’t like,” she told me in a recent phone call, “is when pumpkin pie tastes like baked purée with too many spices and not enough eggs.” Good pumpkin pie, she says, is custardy, but not stodgy: The slices should have a “slight quiver.” Her recipe gets you there.

But even if you already have a go-to recipe you love, Saffitz has a tip that can be applied to any pumpkin pie: Let it cool in the oven. That’s right: not on the counter, not on the windowsill, and definitely not in your fridge. Cooling the pie slowly and gradually in your oven ensures that the top won’t crack; it’s a trick Saffitz learned from baking holiday pies for years in her parent’s home kitchen. “My dad never turns on the heat, so it’s always very cold in their kitchen,” she says. When you take a custard pie out of a hot oven, “the temperature shock causes the egg proteins to contract, which creates a splitting effect in the surface.”

Don’t miss me with the nutmeg-dusted whipped cream.

COOLING PUMPKIN PIE IN OVEN - IG

Don’t miss me with the nutmeg-dusted whipped cream.
Photo by Andrew Purcell, Food Styling by Carrie Purcell

This oven-cooling technique—which Saffitz calls a “more gentle way” of cooling your pie—is used frequently when baking cheesecake, another type of baked custard with a thick base ingredient (pumpkin, cream cheese, sweet potato). It’s a move best done the night before Thanksgiving: Just bake your pie, turn off the oven, and use a wooden spoon to prop open the oven door to let the heat escape slowly. Then go to bed.

If you’re worried about children or pets getting into the oven, Saffitz says you can prop the door open just long enough to let most of the heat escape (about 20 to 30 minutes), then close the door and let the pie hang out overnight totally enclosed. (Just remember to take it out before you turn the oven on the next morning—leave yourself a Post-it or something.)

Saffitz also says you should keep your pumpkin pie out of the refrigerator at all costs—at least until after you slice it. “Nothing is going to happen to it—maybe cover [the totally cooled pie] loosely with an upside down bowl or silicone lid so a skin doesn’t form on the surface—but leave it at room temperature: The flavors will meld as it sits and it’s just going to taste better.”

Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie

Claire Saffitz

Originally Appeared on Epicurious