My first Thanksgiving was in 1986, the date that also marks my first encounter with a pumpkin pie. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I overindulged in the turkey, the dressing, the mashed potatoes AND the gravy, so that by the time dessert arrived, I was absolutely full. Not to be rude to my hosts, I accepted a small piece, but even that was not easy to negotiate, as the pie was heavy and sweet. For years I avoided pumpkin pie, until my husband convinced me to give it another chance. He makes it from the recipe in the second edition of the Joy of Cooking, but he’s adamant about the use of fresh pumpkin in the filling.
This year was the first time I made it all by myself. If you think “light-as-a-feather pumpkin pie” is an oxymoron, then think again and give this one a try. Now I can’t conceive of a better way to finish Thanksgiving dinner.
(adapted from Joy of Cooking, second edition)
2 cups cooked pumpkin (see comments)
1 + 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 slightly beaten eggs
Heat the oven to 425F.
Mix all the ingredients very well and pour the mixture into a pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350F and continue baking for at least 45 minutes longer, until a toothpick or a knife blade inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.
to print the recipe, click here
(from Cook’s Illustrated)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
12 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bow. Place the very cold butter and shortening on top and quickly incorporate them into the flour using a pastry cutter, until they have the size of small peas. Add the vodka and water over the mixture and with a rubber spatula fold the mixture pressing it down to form a dough that sticks together. Divide the dough into two balls, flatten them into a 4-inch disk, wrap them separately in plastic and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.
Pie crust: normally I’d use the food processor, but this year I took a chance and made everything by hand, with good results. I placed the plate with the butter cubes in the freezer for 30 minutes, as well as the vodka/water mixture. The less you melt the butter at the stage of incorporating it with the flour, the better your crust will be. The addition of vodka makes the dough slightly stickier and moister than normal, so I compensated by adding some extra flour to roll it out. Rolling the dough in between two plastic sheets makes the process very easy.
The filling: to cook the pumpkin, we (i.e., “husband”) cut the pumpkin in half and placed it in a 350F oven, cut side down, until soft to the touch. Scoop out the flesh and pass it through a sieve, which separates any strings and makes it smooth. We cooked the pumpkin two days before assembling the pie.
If the pie crust starts to get dark but the center of the filling still jiggles, protect the crust with some aluminum foil.