Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Pie Primer, Part Four: Pumpkin Pie

It seems fashionable now to have an aversion to pumpkin pie. All the magazines seem to be offering alternatives to it--take such-and-such or blah-and-dah to your Thanksgiving gathering, a refreshing change from pumpkin pie. Honestly, I don't understand. What could possibly be wrong with silky, spiced, pumpkin custard in a flaky butter crust? And don't give me the evaporated milk answer, because you don't have to use it.
I ran several pumpkin pie trials this week and discovered that there is no reason to use evaporated milk in your pumpkin pie filling. You don't even have to spend hours cooking down your own milk in an attempt to duplicate what comes out of the can. You can simply use a combination of milk and cream instead. You wouldn't think of using canned milk in any other custard, so why in this one? For one pie I took the time to heat the milk and temper the eggs and cook them in a double boiler until the mixture coated the back of the spoon et cetera and so forth, but it was really unnecessary. The one with milk and cream and none of the double boiler hoopla set up just as well. So there you go: no more Carnation! Take that, Libby.

Pumpkin Pie

one 9-inch pie

  • 1/2 recipe pie crust
  • blank
  • 2 cups pumpkin purée from 1 medium-large pie pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Make up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate while you make the filling.
  • Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Cut the halves in half and place in a steamer basket. Steam until tender, about 20 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and place in a blender. Blend until smooth. Drain purée in cheesecloth in a strainer for 10-15 minutes to remove some of the water.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Measure out 2 cups of pumpkin purée and return to blender. Add the rest of the ingredients to blender and blend again until smooth.
  • Roll out your dough between sheets of waxed paper into about a 12-inch round, or until you judge it will fit in your pie pan with about an inch of overhang. Press the dough into the pan starting with the bottom and working up the sides so there is no air trapped underneath it. Crimp the edges, folding the dough over on itself to get a nice thick edge.
  • Blend filling for another second, then pour into pie shell. Do this on a piece of counter close to the oven so you don't have far to go with it.
  • Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 45 minutes. The center of the pie should still be jiggly when you take it out of the oven. It will set as it cools. A cracked pie is an overcooked pie. Allow to cool completely before serving.
If you're lucky, you'll have some leftover filling. If you do, I recommend pouring it into a small ramekin, placing the ramekin in a dish of hot water and baking it along side the pie. It might be done a bit sooner than the pie so keep an eye on it. Let it cool, whip up a bit of cream for the top, and call it a treat for the cook (or share it--I did).
I hope at least one pumpkin pie appears in your fall pie rotation. Sure, make such-and-such, bake blah-and-dah, but I'm willing to bet the pumpkin pie disappears first.

1 comment:

Audra said...

My favorite pumpkin pie uses cream and has brown sugar and molasses in it. So good! I think I got it from an old Bon Appetit magazine.