Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pie (from scratch)

It is both a blessing and a challenge when your children believe that you can do anything in the kitchen. From the time that our pumpkins were tiny green babies on the vine, my daughter has been asking me to make "her" pumpkin into a pie. That presents a bit of a challenge because I've always made my pies from the can. (Psst....sometimes I even buy it at the grocery store, remove it from the tin, and pass it off as my own. Don't tell.)

Those days are in the past, because this pie from scratch tasted completely different than a pie made from canned pumpkin. The flavor exploded in my mouth. I could taste every spice and there was nothing bland or boring about it.

So yesterday...I popped two small pumpkins in the oven to give this whole pumpkin pie from real pumpkins the old college try.

While those pumpkins are roasting, let's talk pumpkins. "Pie pumpkins" are not the huge Jack O Lantern pumpkins you carve at Halloween. Although you can use those, too if you forgot to carve yours, just add about 25% more sugar. You want a smaller sweeter pumpkin. They are sometimes called sugar pumpkins and are usually sold in the grocery stores from October through December.

Honestly, making pumpkin puree was the hardest part of this project. (See the blog entry called Pumpkin Puree, it's under the "how to" label on the right side of the screen.) This time around I tried something a little different. Instead of running my pumpkin through the blender (this process requires me to add a little water to get the pumpkin mushy) I put all of the pumpkin in a bowl and pureed it with my handheld electric mixer. I didn't want to add any water to the pumpkin since the pie filling is so runny to begin with.

The rest of the recipe was super easy. The ingredients needed are:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
3 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Note: In a pinch (like if you are stationed overseas and the Commissary has been out of cloves since October) you can substitute 4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger; but I think you get better results when you use the separate spices.

Mix all your ingredients together. Pour into the pie crust. This is enough pie filling for two pumpkin pies. Don't worry, the filling is supposed to be that runny. It will firm up nicely as it bakes. I cover the top of the pie crust with aluminium foil to prevent it from burning.

Bake at (a preheated) 425˚F for the first fifteen minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 350˚F and bake another 60-90 minutes...until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the pie cool and enjoy!

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