Step 9: Cook and Cool the Pumpkin Pie

Picture of Cook and Cool the Pumpkin Pie
Once the filling is strained, and the crust is golden brown, whisk the filling, pour it into the crust. You're whisking in some air so the filling turns out light and airy, and not super dense once baked. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 300°F and cook for an additional 20-45 minutes. The theory here is to speed up the cooking time without curdling the filling. You could cook the pie at 300°F, but it would probably take 2 hours.

Cook's Illustrated says to cook the pie until the center is 175°F. When mine reached this temperature, a tooth pick still didn't come out of the pie cleanly, but I went with it anyway and took it out of the oven. The pie cooled for about 2 hours. The center was just barely cooked, and cutting a clean slice was a challenge. Next time, I'll probably cook the pie until a tooth pick comes out clean -- maybe 5-10 minutes additional time at 300°F after the center reaches 175°F.

Thanksgiving 2009 Update:

Since last year, I started using a Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer instead of the dial thermometer shown in the images.  So this Thanksgiving, when the pies reached a center temperature of 175°F, I took them out, despite my note above.  Once cooled, they were perfectly cooked.  I suspect the dial thermometer wasn't properly calibrated, and I had slightly undercooked the pie.