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My PA Dutch grandma's pumpkin pie always had a thin layer of custard on the bottom. We have her recipe but none of us has been able to get the filling to separate... Anyone have any idea what might cause this? We've experimented with cooking temps, ingredient temps, amount of mixing, beating the eggs more or less etc.... Any ideas????

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Erm... pumpkin pie is a custard pie. The whole filling is pumpkin flavored custard. You might want to describe what you are hoping for more clearly, and provide the base recipe. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 9 '12 at 6:23
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Sorry- the pie develops a thin, milky white to clear layer - it was sometimes in the center, sometimes at the bottom of the pie. Her recipe was pretty standard- 2 1/2 cups of neck pumpkin purée, 1/3 c brown sugar, 1/3 c sugar, 12 oz. evaporated milk, 3 eggs,, 1/2 tsp salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves & mace to taste - bake at 450 for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 for about 50 more minutes. –  A Meyers Dec 9 '12 at 7:22
    
Oh- and my one aunt swears she saw grandma add cornstarch, although it is not on her handwritten recipe –  A Meyers Dec 9 '12 at 8:06

5 Answers 5

I believe that your aunt is right and Grandma added cornstarch. Quite a few times in the past when I've made sauces using cornstarch in a saucepan, bubbles of clear gel have formed when I've neglected to stir constantly. It seems quite possible to me that a thin layer of this gel would form when making a pie, rather than the bubbles that I have seen.

I understand that you want to come as close to Grandma's recipe as possible and keep this layer. Bearing in mind that I've not tried this, I would mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with just enough milk to make a pourable, non-lumpy paste and whisk it gently into the custard . If the recipe involves any heating of the custard before baking, be sure to incorporate the cornstarch mixture only after heating.

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With the kind of oven time described in the comment to the question, I don't think any precooking of the filling is involved. –  SAJ14SAJ Dec 9 '12 at 15:44
    
Thanks for the suggestion- I tried what you suggested with no luck, though.... –  A Meyers Dec 18 '12 at 4:12
    
@AMeyers Sorry it didn't help. I hope you get some more suggestions. –  Chris Steinbach Dec 18 '12 at 10:52

This just happened to one of my pies. It happened because I poured the filling into the crust and let it sit for an hour before baking giving it time to seperate.

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I have the opposite problem, I want my pie filling to be homogeneous but it always separates and forms a thin clear or white custard (without the pumpkin and spice) layer at the bottom topped by the normal pumpkin and spice custard layer. I have tried mixing it different ways and for varying times with the same end result. Any suggestions? The proportions are 1c. of pumpkin, 3 eggs to 1 1/4 c. whipping cream with sugar and spices.

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Welcome to Seasoned Advice! This is really a new question, not an answer to this question, so you might want to try posting it as a question - there’s an Ask Question button at the top right. (We're a Q&A site, not a discussion forum, and we stick to that format - see the tour page.) Be sure to include your exact recipe! (editing the exact recipe into this answer might also provide an answer to this question, though- bonus!) –  Jefromi Nov 17 '13 at 15:43
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For the record: I'm leaving this here as an answer purely because it might contain a hint as to what's causing this. It sounds like mixing is not related, and perhaps the ingredient proportions are relevant. –  Jefromi Nov 17 '13 at 23:21

This just happened to me. I didn't let the filling sit. Some differences to the "normal" receipe I used (Betty Crocker's cookbook) were (1) using our own, homegrown pumpkin, and (2) making evaporated milk substitute from powdered milk.

Bottom line is that I wouldn't worry about it if your doesn't separate. :-)

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If you ever find out let me know. My PA Dutch mom was always trying to replicate her Mom's that had the thin layer of white at the top

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