the appetizer:

Food Styling by Delores Custer includes excerpts like Coconut; Pumpkin Pies; and Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (BSCBs).



Pumpkin Pies

by Delores Custer

Pumpkin Pies
A "spotty" pumpkin pie.


The Problems

  • The cinnamon and nutmeg tend to clump and form spots on top of the pie.
  • The pie filling shrinks in the crust.
  • The pie filling cracks.

The Solutions

When I used to make pumpkin pies for photography (and at home), one problem I had was that the spices would rise to the top of the pumpkin puree mixture and form spots on top of the pie. Then one year I noticed that the recipe for the pumpkin pie on the can of pure pumpkin puree had changed. Most likely, the recipe procedure was changed for even blending of the spices to result in a better visual appeal. (This is incidentally an example of just the kind of minor recipe adjustments that food stylists come up with on their own when having visual problems with a product using the same ingredient list but tweaking ingredient quantities and procedure.)

With the improved recipe, you do not get dots of spice on the top of the pie because the spices are blended with the sugar and then the pie mixture. Sometimes I even strain the eggs after beating so there will be even blending of the egg mixture.


This is the original recipe:

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1-2/3 cups evaporated milk
  • One 9" unbaked pie shell

Mix ingredients in order given and pour into a 9" pie shell.


The new and improved recipe:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups pure pumpkin
  • 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9" pie shell

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.


Pie fillings will shrink if they are overbaked or if they are baked the day before, so it's best to bake this pie the day you need it and just until a quarter-size spot in the middle of the pie is still a bit jiggly.

Pie fillings crack if the mixture is overbeaten or if the pie is baked at too high a temperature or for too long.

  • from:
    Food Styling
  • by Delores Custer
  • Wiley 2010
  • Hardcover; $75.00; 416 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0470080191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-470-08019-1
  • Reprinted by permission.

Buy Food Styling


Food Styling


Also check out The Food Stylist's Handbook by Denise Vivaldo


This page created October 2010

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