Friday, August 20, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Basic Pumpkin Pie recipe - with notes for variations/options 

Note: In an ideal world, this pie should be baked in a
10 inch corning glass deep dish pie plate
Sadly, these once ubiquitous dishes are now rare and precious items.
If you have one or can find one, guard it well. Perhaps you can find one on eBay or steal one from your Granny. And btw there is a Zombie Death Curse on the bastard who stole mine from Astrid's last Thanksgiving dinner.

If you live in the UK, any sort of American pie plate may be difficult to find. Tesco and Waitrose used to carry them but I don't know if they currently do and that will also vary with location. The Waitrose in Canary Wharf, London had an excellent selection last time I was there.

Note: Where do you find pumpkin to make this pie?

The answer to this can be relatively simple or pretty complex - read on:

First you need to make some decisions - 

1. Are you going to use pumpkin or sweet potatoes to make this pie. Yes, you can use sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin. Nobody can tell the difference in the finished product. Trust me on this one. (This fact comes in handy in the UK where any kind of pumpkin may be impossible to find.)

2. If you choose to use pumpkin you need to decide fresh or canned.

Canned is easy - Get Libbys 15 oz can - even Tesco in the UK carries that. For some reason, Tesco's often stocks their canned pumpkin in the canned FRUIT section so check there as well as in the canned veg aisle. In the US it's available everywhere and frankly it's become the traditional standard for most people.

Or make a puree from fresh pumpkin - For this you MUST use a little 6" to 8" pie pumpkin (sometimes called a sugar pumpkin), you just need 1 to make either a 10" deep dish pie or 2 shallow dish 9" pies. Do not attempt to use the big Halloween type pumpkin. They are too watery and grainy/stringy and lack natural sugars. You can also use a butternut squash to make the puree - this is actually what is in canned "pumpkin". If you can get pie pumpkins, just cut it in half, scoop out all the seeds and fibers, then place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/160 Fan) for approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. When done, let cool a bit and then the peel should just lift right off. You'll need to puree the cooked pumpkin in a food processor or in a bowl with an electric hand-blender wand. Let the pureed pumpkin sit in a bowl for about 20 min and if any water seeps out, pour it away before using the pumpkin. (See why we tend to use the canned stuff?)

3. If you decide to use sweet potatoes and you live in the UK, you must use American sweet potatoes for this NOT African or unlabeled ones from god knows where. This is because the name may be the same, but the vegetable isn't. Tesco's sells American sweet potatoes under the name, "Carolina Gold" and they are lovely.

OK, on to the recipe

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
Place your oven rack in the middle or bottom third of the oven

Ingredients -

Pie crust - buy ready made in the fresh chilled/dairy section of your supermarket - in the US, I use Pillsbury's, in the UK ready rolled short crust (made with butter if possible). If you make your own pie crust, use your favorite. Make sure you have enough for 1 deep dish/2 shallow dish single crust pies.

(Here's a link with photos about crusts - )

Pie Filling -

3 large eggs
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 - 15 ounce can (425 grams) pure pumpkin
1/2 cup (120 ml) double or heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar - you can use white sugar if you prefer
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional - a good splash of Scotch Malt Whiskey

Topping - whipped cream to top pie just before serving

First get your pie crust ready. Line the pie plate with the crust, crimp edges.
Option - sprinkle finely chopped pecans over the crust and press into the dough

Then make the filling:

1. In a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste and adjust, you may want to add more sugar or spices.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and place on a large baking pan to catch any spills. Note - you can cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum (kitchen) foil before baking to prevent it overbrowning. If you do this, make sure to remove the foil after the first 20 min baking. I can't be bothered to fuss but it is a nice option.

4. Bake the pie for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust has browned (the center will still look wet). (A knife inserted about 1 inch from side of pan will come out almost clean.)

5. Place the baked pie on a wire rack and allow to set and cool about an hour. May be served warm or refrigerate if you like it cold. (We like it cold)

6. Traditionally this pie is served with whipped cream on top

Variations - I like the brown sugar but often I use a mix of white sugar and pure Maple syrup instead. I also use more spices than listed here because my husband likes a deeply flavoured pie. You can also use brandy instead of the whiskey. If you use something different, post a comment and let us know.