9. Soupy pecan pie
Problem: I’m generally a competent baker, but the pecan pie I made for Thanksgiving dessert turned out really soupy. Not only was I embarrassed, I didn’t have anything else to serve.
Quick fix: Always have plenty of ice cream in the freezer on Thanksgiving day, just in case something like this happens. Instead of serving the pie, scoop ice cream into individual serving bowls, spoon the pie filling on top, and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream. Soupy pie fillings make excellent ice cream toppings.
Avoiding the problem: This is a tough one to troubleshoot without seeing your recipe because there’s more than one way to make pecan-pie filling -- some versions are partially cooked on the stovetop while others aren’t -- and a number of things could cause the filling to be runny. To name a few: It could be a problem with the proportion of ingredients in the recipe, e.g., there might not be enough egg to hold the custard together, in which case you should try a different recipe next time. Or you might not have baked the pie long enough -- it needs to bake until the filling is puffed and jiggles only slightly when the pan is nudged. Or the pie might have baked at too hot a temperature, causing the egg custard to break and weep.
10. A cracked pumpkin pie
Problem: I made a gorgeous pumpkin pie, but while it was cooling, a big crack opened up in the middle of the pie.
Quick fix: Whipped cream to the rescue. Instead of fretting about the crack, hide it. You can pipe whipped cream decoratively onto the surface of the entire pie. Or slice the pie in the kitchen, place each slice on a dessert plate, and top with a generous dollop of fluffy whipped cream. No one will ever guess your delicious pie wasn’t picture perfect.
Avoid the problem: Custard pies tend to crack either because they’re overbaked or because the filling recipe called for more starch than was needed to thicken the custard. Next time, remove the pie from the oven as soon as it just begins to set -- the filling will continue to thicken as it cools. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may want to reduce the amount of starch in the recipe by 25 percent.