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Adding Gelatin to Pecan Pie to Ensure a Firm Set?


Crouton
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I like thick pecan pie, like really thick, at least 1"-2" thick In the center. The only problem is, when it's that thick I have a hard time getting it to set properly and not have runny goo in the center. Will commercial gelatin solve my problem by gelling the middle layer all the way through? Will it have a negative effect on the texture? Or would I be better off just cooking it longer?

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What happens to gelatin when it's cooked? How would you add it?

I'm really not sure what happens when it cooks. I was assuming I'd add it straight to the corn syrup/egg/sugar mixture right from the getgo before filling the pie shell and baking? Or maybe predisolve it in a little boubon and then add it if needed.

Edited by Crouton (log)
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Just thinking aloud, but I would think that if you want to go this route agar would be a better gelling agent than gelatin. Agar has the advantage of gelling at room temperature, whereas gelatin will only work if you chill the pie (which I wouldn't consider desirable). Not sure how to do it, as I've never made a pecan pie this way. (I'm content with the conventional, shallower pie.) What probably would work is to warm the dissolved agar with the corn syrup, then add the remaining ingredients and bake. FWIW, 1 tbsp agar is roughly equivalent to 1 envl unflavored gelatin, i.e., will gel about 2 cup of available water. Which, at a rough guess, will be enough to achieve the texture for which you're aiming. Obviously, whatever gelling agent you choose, you're looking at some experimentation to get it right.

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Instant ClearJel is the way to go. It is modified food starch. It won't set wobbly or firm, just thick and, as the name says, clear. But perhaps you don't need it at all....you may need to tweak your pecan pie filling recipe. What are you putting into it? Properly made, it shouldn't be runny, even when thick. Have you tried using more pecans? (My pet peeve is a "veneer" pecan pie, where a thin layer of nuts rides atop the filling. Use more nuts and they'll add some structure to the wobbly middle.)

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Instant ClearJel is the way to go. It is modified food starch. It won't set wobbly or firm, just thick and, as the name says, clear. But perhaps you don't need it at all....you may need to tweak your pecan pie filling recipe. What are you putting into it? Properly made, it shouldn't be runny, even when thick. Have you tried using more pecans? (My pet peeve is a "veneer" pecan pie, where a thin layer of nuts rides atop the filling. Use more nuts and they'll add some structure to the wobbly middle.)

Interesting. I will definitely check Instant ClearJell out.

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The pecan pie recipe from Cook's Illustrated is firm -- the nuts are distributed evenly through the filling (no "veneer"). Their trick is to cook the filling, add the chopped (not whole), toasted pecans and pour it into a warm prebaked pie shell, then bake. Really, this is the best pecan pie ever!

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The pecan pie recipe from Cook's Illustrated is firm -- the nuts are distributed evenly through the filling

This is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. That to me isn't pecan pie, but pecan squares in a pie shell. Pecan pie to me is 3 distinct layers: crust, filling and pecans.

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To get it to seperate put the pecans in the pie shell first then add

the filling and let set a few minutes for pecans to come to the top then bake. It will work and I do add the flour to our bakery pies so that works also, selling pies for twenty years so it is well tested.

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To get it to seperate put the pecans in the pie shell first then add

the filling and let set a few minutes for pecans to come to the top then bake. It will work and I do add the flour to our bakery pies so that works also, selling pies for twenty years so it is well tested.

My recipe calls for 6 eggs so 6 tbs of flour? Seems like a lot of flour?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gelatin is best used to stabilize cold desserts. It loses its setting power and forms a skin once it's been boiled, hence the tapioca texture.

Your best bet is to increase the amount of thickeners (i.e. starch or eggs) that you are already using in your recipe and experiment until you find the best ratio that produces the texture that you desire. If you have trouble obtaining Clear-Jel (which is really meant for fruit pies and canning because it won't break down under acidic conditions), then you can also use arrowroot.

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