ZOMG Pumpkin Pie
I have some gourds in my oven right now.
We’re contributing pumpkin pies to Thanksgiving this year, and that’s awesome. I love pumpkin pie; it’s always been one of my all time favorites. So when I decided to try making one from a real pumpkin after watching a Chow video showing how easy it is to get soft tender flesh from a pumpkin, I was excited but a little apprehensive. (I didn’t use his recipe, though, just got the initial inspiration to make a mostly from scratch pie.)
Turns out it really is simple to do, and ignore everything you’ve ever seen about cutting open and de-seeding the pumpkin beforehand because that’s annoying, messy and totally unnecessary. It turns out it’s so simple that I’m not even sure that it can be described as a “trick” in any way. Here’s what you do: wrap a whole pumpkin of your choice in foil and stick it in your oven on the lowest setting (200 degrees) for a minimum of 8 hours. You can put it in when you go to bed and scoop it out in the morning, no fuss.
It goes in like this.
And then when you pull it out later, it’s so soft and tender that the stem pulls right off and you can pop it right in half with a couple of big spoons. Everything is soft and tender, so you get the seeds out of your way and can scrape the flesh out. I’ve already made a couple pies so far this year (the first was a proof of concept pie), and I’m planning on making at least two more this week.
The one area where I fudge on my “from scratch” cred here is the crust. I have never, ever had any luck making homemade pie crust, no matter what my mom says about it being simple or whatever. I half believe that pie crust is a long-standing lie that parents and grandparents tell children to make them think it’s a good idea, when you should always just buy refrigerated crust and roll it out because it’s better than yours.
The photos here are from the last pie I made, since my mom has volunteered to make the crusts for me to put filling in tomorrow. I loved pumpkin pie before, but I confess that I’ve found that fresh pies made with pie pumpkins (can’t imagine what horror you’d serve up if you cooked jack-o-lanterns) are much better than the canned pies I’ve made before. It’s creamier in addition to being more flavorful, and I never really imagined it would be.
Here’s the recipe I’ve been using.
- Approximately 3.5 cups of fresh pumpkin flesh
- One 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
- Three eggs
- Fresh ginger and orange zest
- Spices to taste, obviously varies from person to person. I use: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, allspice, nutmeg.
- Eyeballed dashes of vanilla extract and bourbon
Once you have your pumpkin flesh out, you’ll want to puree it in a blender or food processor. I usually do it with fresh ginger, orange zest and the sweetened condensed milk because the extra liquid makes it easier to get that smooth consistency. Then you transfer it to your mixer (I am grateful that I have a stand mixer because it makes things so much simpler) or mixing bowl. You add the eggs and desired spices, along with any flavorings like vanilla or the bourbon I use.
Once that’s done, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then get your crusts ready. I buy refrigerated crusts and transfer them to glass pie dishes because I think this type of pre-made crust tastes better than the ones pre-formed into aluminum tins. Pour your filling into the shell and slide into the oven.
Bake at 425 for maybe 25 minutes before you reduce the heat down to 350. How long you’ll want to bake the pie on this heat really varies by oven and elevation (sitting at 4.5K feet here) but another 25 minutes or so is enough for a knife slid into the pie to come out clean. That’s how you know it’s done.
Refrigerate for at least a few hours, cover in whipped cream if desired (which, c’mon, when we’re talking about homemade pies for thanksgiving, they warrant some fresh made whipped cream) and OM NOM NOM.
Today’s pies are going to be a mixture of two conventional sugar pie pumpkins and a butternut squash (which is what most canned “pumpkin” is anyway). I’m quite excited for these since I’m blending the gourds to make a more rich and varied flavor (I hope.) The other thing I really like about doing this type of pie is they really need very little sweetener to make them seem like dessert; other recipes I found called for adding sugar, but you get enough from the sweetened condensed milk that I don’t understand why you’d bother.