Sunday, 16 October 2011

Pumpkin Pie.... from scratch!!

Yield: One 9-inch deep dish pie or two 8-inch shallow pies

Step 1 - Get your pie pumpkin or culinary pumpkin
"Pie pumpkins or culinary pumpkins" are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.  Grocery stores usually carry them in late September through to November/December. There are many varieties of pumpkin and some make better pies that other (due to sugar content, flavor, texture and water content.  Drier, sweeter, fine-grained pies; the small (8" across) ones called "pie pumpkins" are best. 
If you using a regular Jack O' Lantern type pumpkin, you may need to add about 25% more sugar and run the cooked pumpkin through a blender or food processor to help smooth it out.
TIP: If you're in a pinch and can't find a pie pumpkin, here's a tip: butternut squash taste almost the same!  Commercial canned pumpkin is from a variety of butternut, not true pumpkins!
One 6" pie pumpkin usually makes one 10 inch deep dish pie and a bit extra; or two 9 inch shallow pies! If you have extra goop, you can always pour it into greased baking pans and make a crustless mini pie with the excess (and the cooked pies do freeze well!)

Step 2 - Prepare the pumpkin for cooking
Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water, no soap.
Cut the pumpkin in half.  A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best - a smooth knife is more likely to slip and hurt you! Or you can even try a hand saw.

Step 3 - Scoop out the seeds...
And scrape the insides.  You want to get out that stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface.  
Note: SAVE THE SEEDS: The seeds can be used either to plant pumpkins next year, or roasted to eat this year! Just give them a wash and spread them out on a clean towel or paper towel to dry and they're ready to save for next year's planting or roasting. 

Step 4 - Cooking the pumpkin
There are several ways to cook the pumpkin;  just choose use your preferred method.  Most people have microwaves and a stove, so I'll describe both of those methods here. But others make good arguments in favor of using a pressure cooker or baking in the oven. At the end of this document, I’ve included alternative instructions to replace step 4, if you’d rather use a different method.

Method 1 - Put it in a microwaveable bowl
Remove the stem, and put the pumpkin into a microwaveable. You may need to cut the pumpkin further to make it fit.  The fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked pumpkin afterwards.
Put a couple of inches of water in the bowl, cover it, and put in the microwave. Cook for 15 minutes on high, check to see if it is soft, then repeat in smaller increments of time until it is soft enough to scoop the innards out.  Normally it takes 20 or 30 minutes in total.
Method 2 - Steam on the stovetop
You can also cook it on the stovetop; it takes about the same length of time in a steamer (20 to 30 minutes).  A double pot steamer works, but you could use an ordinary large pot with a steamer basket inside it!
Method 3 - Bake in the oven
You can also bake the prepared pumpkin in the oven, just like a butternut squash.  This method takes the longest. Basically, you cut and scoop out the pumpkin as for the other methods, place it cut side down into a covered oven container. Cover the ovenproof container (with a lid), and pop it in an 350 F (165 C) oven. It normally takes about 45 minutes to 90 minutes (it can vary a lot!); just test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see if it is soft!

Step 5 - Cook the pumpkin until soft 

Step 6 - Scoop out the cooked pumpkin

Watery pumpkin?
If your pumpkin puree has standing, free water, you may want to let it sit for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water.  That will help prevent you pie from being too watery! Beyond, that, I have not found that the water makes a difference - I wouldn't be TOO concerned about it!
Again, don't go to great lengths to remove water; the recipe accounts for the fact that fresh pumpkin is more watery than canned!

Step 7 - Puree the pumpkin
To get a nice, smooth consistency, use a hand blender but a hand mixer or regular blender will work too.  By blending it, you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes.
Note: You may freeze the puree or pie filling to use it later! Just use a freezer bag or other container to exclude as much air as possible.  It should last a year or more in a deep freezer On the other hand, you may NOT "can" it: 

Step 8 - Make the pie crust
You can use ready-made pie crusts or you can make your own flaky crust.

Step 9 - Mix the pie contents & preheat oven
Preheat oven to 425 F or 210 C
·     1 cup sugar - or 1 cup Splenda, or 3/4 cup honey (honey may make a heavier pie, though)
·     1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·     1 teaspoon ground cloves
·     1 teaspoon ground allspice
·     one half teaspoon ground ginger 
*I used 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon & 2 teaspoons mixed spice instead of ground cloves, allspice and ginger
·     one half teaspoon salt (optional, I don't use any)
·     4 large eggs
·     3 cups pumpkin glop (ok... "sieved, cooked pumpkin")
·     1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (I use the nonfat version)
·     1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional) (metric: 20 grams)
Mix well using a hand blender or mixer.
Note: You may substitute 4 teaspoons of "pumpkin pie spice" instead of the cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger.  And if you want a heavy, more dense pie, use 3 eggs instead of 4 and 1 can of evaporated milk instead of 1.5)

Step 10 - Pour into the pie crust
Don't be surprised if the mixture is very runny!  It may start as a soupy liquid, but it will firm up nicely in the oven!
TIP: If you put the empty pie crust on your oven rack, with the rack slid partially out, you can fill it there and avoid making a mess while carrying the pie to the oven!
You can also use it in making pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread!

Step 11 - Bake the pie
Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F  ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Step 12 - Cool the pie
I like to set mine in the fridge for a few hours so that it’s cold but some enjoy it warm.. you can serve it, with whipped cream , ice cream or nothing at all - it's great!
You can even freeze the pie after cooking it.  If you do, take the frozen pie out of the freezer, put it in the fridge for about 24 hours, and then if you wish to warm it up, heat it in the oven (350 F for about 15 minutes; just to warm it up) or in the microwave for a few minutes.

(based on the recipe from

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