October is here and so are the pumpkins! What better dish is there to mark that autumn is here than a pumpkin pie?
Pumpkin pie is a custard-based pie with a stronger, more savory collection of spices at play than in some of the other pies I’ve posted here thus far. You’ve got things like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc, so there’s a lot of strong stuff in there that will demand your attention. Also unlike many of the other pies posted here, you aren’t troubled with creating a topping as we’re going to cook the pie briefly in high heat to harden the top of the pie relative to the rest of the filling, which will be softer, and not quite pudding-like, but smoother and creamier in texture. And you can take two different approaches: canned pumpkin puree or a fresh, whole pumpkin, the latter being the approach that builds character and if this blog focuses on anything, its character building.
- Pie crust
- 1 medium-sized pumpkin (somewhere around 4-7 lbs. Ultimately, no more than 2 cups of pureed pulp)
- 1/2 cup finely granulated (white) sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 can evaporated milk OR 1.5 cups of (heavy whipping cream + milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8-1/4 tsp ground cardamon
Before you get started on this, prepare your crust into a dough ball and set it aside in the fridge.
Now, the next major step is to prepare your pumpkin (or you could just buy a can of pumpkin puree), and be forewarned: this can take some time. The first important thing here is that you want a pumpkin that’s good for pies, not doorstep decoration. I’ve read that varieties such as sugar pumpkin and baby bear are great for pies, but my grocery store merely sold “pumpkins” where the varieties were medium, large, or painted with witch faces (a week after I made this though, they of course have plenty of sugar pumpkins 😮 ). I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. Do not settle on this one or else the pumpkin flavor in your pie will be disappointingly weak.
At this point, preheat your oven to bake at 350? F. With a big and sturdy knife, you want to cut that pumpkin in half from top to bottom. I took a good swing to get things started and then, with both hands, carefully see-sawed down the length of the pumpkin. Whenever cutting something that takes effort like this, be careful–putting a lot of force behind that knife can have an unhappy outcome if you slip up.
Once you’ve successfully halved your pumpkin, scoop out all of the seeds and that stringy junk. Hang on to the seeds (for roasted pumpkin seeds, of course!). Then, on a greased baking pan, lay your pumpkin halves open-side down and bake them for about an hour (give or take 15 minutes, varies by pumpkin size) in the oven. You want to make that flesh tender so that you can easily cut it with a knife.
While your pumpkin is baking, you can get everything else ready. For instance, now’s a good time to roll out your pie dough and set it up in your pie pan.
In a small bowl, mix up your dry ingredients (spices, sugar, etc).
In a larger bowl, crack and whisk your eggs a bit.
I’m going to assume that your pumpkins are done and out of the oven now. Carefully (they’re hot!), scoop out the pulp with a spoon/ice cream scoop. You’re going to want to puree the pulp in a food processor until it is really smooth, so unless you have a huge food processor, you’ll probably want to work in batches. Then, we’re going to have to deal with all of the water in the pumpkin, so put your puree on a strainer, shake it, press it, and wait (if you have any secret tricks to speed this part up, please let me know!). You’d be amazed how much water is in there, and if you just left it all in, you’d end up with a very sad and soggy pie. If you’ve been following me so far, you might be pining for that canned pumpkin puree by now. 😉
At this point, everything else will go quickly (relatively, I suppose). Preheat your oven to 425? F.
Incorporate your pureed pumpkin, bowl of dry ingredients, and vanilla extract into the whisked egg bowl. Mix everybody together and lastly, add in the milk/cream. Give one good last sitr to get everything together and pour this into your pie crust.
You’ll want to bake for roughly 15 minutes and then drop your oven temperature down to 350?F. When doing so, also, cover the edges of your crust with some tin foil to prevent burning. Ultimately, let the pie bake for about 50 minutes total (or until your pie has set). Remember, a pumpkin pie has a moist inside, so you only want to ensure that you pie has actually set, not that it cooked bone dry. You can tell when you give it a light jiggle–it is still slops around like liquid, it’s not set.