Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving in the USA is just around the corner, therefore I have to discuss Pumpkin Pie. Over the years, I've been perfecting my recipe, based on my grandma's, my MIL's, and a brief discussion with a professional baker while cake tasting for our wedding. The key to the best pumpkin pie is using canned pumpkin, which poses a bit of a challenge for my friends living here in the Netherlands. Do not despair! A little shop in Utrecht sells canned pumpkin, and you can often convince your friends visiting from the US to bring you a can of Libbys. I've used fresh pumpkin a few times and only one thing is for certain with the results I've had: they are never consistent. Furthermore, Cooks Illustrated uses canned pumpkin in their recipes so it has to be the right thing to do.

First, the crust: I say go big or go home. If you want a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth crust you have to use a Pate Brisse recipe. I've mentioned this before, but since pie can never be over-discussed, I'll say it again: make sure your butter is cold. Less than 68 degrees, to be exact. Start with 250g of cubed butter, that you've frozen for 30 minutes or overnight. (That's a bit more than a couple of sticks to you folks in the USA).
Next, process your all-purpose flour (2 & 1/2 cups or 300 g), 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt in a food processor until mixed. Add the chopped, frozen butter and process until you have a sandy-looking texture.
Add just less than 1/2 cup cold water and process until it comes together. Test by pinching a bit with your thumb and finger and seeing if it sticks together.

Shape into two discs (you've made enough for two pumpkin pies!) and wrap in saran wrap. Place in the fridge for at least a couple hours, preferably overnight. When you are ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F (210 degrees C) and roll out the crust to be just larger than a 9" pie plate. Place into a glass or ceramic pie plate and trim the edge to overhang about 2 inches. Fold that under to give yourself a thicker edge, and crimp the edge using your index finger from one hand and your index finger and thumb from the other hand.

The filling:
15 oz can of pumpkin (just pumpkin, please, no additives)
10 oz evaporated milk
2 oz milk
2/3 cup sugar (135 g)
2 eggs, slightly beaten (do not beat them too much because the air bubbles are no good.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground cloves or you can use allspice instead

Pour the filling into your unbaked prepared crust, place it in the oven (425 degrees F) and bake for 15 minutes. It is best if you have a baking sheet to place on the rack beneath the pie, to catch the butter drips. Otherwise you'll have fun cleaning your oven later. Next, cover the crust with a pie shield, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C)and bake for 35-40 minutes more. You will know your pie is done when you insert a knife and it comes out clean.
This poor pie had to be checked many, many times. Alternatively, you can slightly jiggle the pie and see if the center is wobbly. It should wobble a tiny bit, but mostly look set.

Pie holds a special place in my heart because it was my daughter's first word. Miraculously, I managed to capture it on video.


  1. I was just telling my mother-in-law this weekend about your blog because she wants to bake a pie for the holidays. And lo and behold, here's a post for pumpkin pie! Great, thanks! :)Danica