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How can I make my pumpkin pie thicker?

The pumpkin pie of my childhood was very dense, not like almost all pies I find today. I have tried a few recipes that claim to make dense pumpkin pie, but they just don't seem right.

In a typical pumpkin pie recipe, what is it that keeps making the pie fluffy? What can I do to make it dense?

example: http://andreasrecipes.com/pumpkin-pie/

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Is the recipe you linked coming out fluffy for you though it claims to be dense? –  Kristina Lopez Nov 20 '12 at 17:52
I don't know. I think it is the recipe I tried last year, but I'm not sure. –  Homer Nov 20 '12 at 18:19
There are some good suggestions in this question from this site where they suggest draining the pumpkin puree before using it: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/8713/… –  Kristina Lopez Nov 20 '12 at 18:30
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marked as duplicate by hobodave Nov 21 '12 at 17:54

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Since nobody has answered yet, I took a shot at this one from the opposite direction: searching for solutions to a too-dense pie hoping to find some steps that were "wrong" for the questioner but would be right for your opposite goal of denser pie.

This is how one remedied his too-dense pie; in the link is the recipe from which he made his modifications:

This pie is just too dense. Not enough liquid. I will always add one can of condensed milk which provides lightness, no extra fat and a wonderful texture. Don't add the whipped cream to the pie use it on the top.


Another one recommends whipped egg whites into your filling for fluffier pie – would whole eggs, and/or not whipped, have the opposite effect?

There are those who would say it's just not Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie - and those who can't abide the pie's dense texture. A simple way to keep all of your guests happy: Fold two whipped egg whites into the filling for an airier, soufflé-like consistency.

(recipe for starting point is in link) http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/tips-were-thankful-225000108.html

This one seems to clarify that, suggesting three whole eggs and less evap milk for a denser pie:

The vast majority of people tell me this is the best pumpkin pie they've ever had. It's light and fluffy - however... if you want a heavy, more dense pie, use 3 eggs instead of 4 and 1 can of evaporated milk instead of 1.5)


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your answer is very creative. It's worth mentioning that the OP's linked recipe uses 3 eggs and 1 1/4 cup half & half so it's pretty certain that your examples weren't really Homer's problem but they might help someone else. :-) –  Kristina Lopez Nov 21 '12 at 3:09
@KristinaLopez: Good point, but he could always bump up to heavy cream from half and half, or even combine those to a desired ratio. I'd also actually wondered if adding extra yolks would have the opposite effect of how adding extra whites make it fluffier. –  MargeGunderson Nov 21 '12 at 3:25
the egg yolk theory might be a good one. It's basically a custard pie so the eggs and cream are important, it's just a matter of proportions. –  Kristina Lopez Nov 21 '12 at 3:45
It looks to me like the "pick your own" recipe's answer for a denser pie is, at least in part, to use less custard: reduce the number of eggs, and reduce the quantity of condensed milk. They do reduce the quantity of milk by 1/3 and the quantity of egg only by 1/4, which also changes the proportions of the custard in favor of more egg. –  Theodore Murdock Nov 21 '12 at 13:23
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Like @MargeGunderson I don't have a great answer to this, but I can perhaps shed a bit of light on what makes things fluffy:

  • Air: stiff egg white is just fluff containing air, which will expand when heated. Expansion makes things fluffy
  • Water: when water turns into steam it expands greatly. Unbeaten eggs are mostly water, and canned pumpkin is mostly water
  • Chemical reactions: baking soda is a base that reacts with acid, producing bubbles which make the mix expand. Not a factor in most pumpkin pie recipes, but I'm being complete here
  • Microbes: yeast is a microbe that eats sugar and O2 producing CO2, which takes up greater volume than O2, making things rise. It would be an unusual pumpkin pie that used this method!

The two that are a factor are air and water. Add more for more expansion (within limits of course), and remove them for less expansion. Canned pumpkin often has water added as part of the canning process (it adds weight giving you less for your money) and is pretty sloppy. If you want a really dense pumpkin pie then you'll need top open your can and dehydrate it a bit, possibly by pouring it into a baking dish and putting it in a very low oven 100F, ~60C for a couple of hours. I've never tried it myself so YMMV! You could also try putting it into a sieve and letting it drip, or putting it in a muslin cloth or jam bag and squeezing the water out.

Also try using ingredients that are dense themselves like sugar syrup, evaporated milk, etc. Let us know if you try and how it comes out!

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