October 16, 2011

Purist Pumpkin Pie

Some things are so perfect, they shouldn't be messed with. Pumpkin pie is one of those things. Classic pumpkin pie trumps any of the 'improved' versions you might be tempted to try, and if you are a purist, you not only stick to a recipe that has been around for decades, you go to a field, pick a pumpkin, bake it, then puree it to make your pie. Making your own pastry is a given (using a store-bought crust would be sacrilegious and bring down upon you, and all of your descendants to the 7th generation, horribly bad karma). Do it old-school - the end product is worth it and you will impress the hell out of everyone, most of whom have never had a made-from-scratch pie. So send everyone away, put some good music on (this is a good place to start), assemble your pie, then sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the oven, watching your pie turn golden, feeling like a modern Julia Child, inhaling the warm aroma of tradition that seeps from your oven.

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. baked pumpkin, squished to drain of excess moisture, then pureed (canned plain pumpkin may be used if you are not going for the Julia Child experience :)
  • 2 3/4 c. evaporated milk (I use evaporated milk because it is low-fat - use heavy cream instead if you like.)
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 425f. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Place in preheated oven; bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375f. Bake for an additional 45 - 60 minutes, until toothpick (or sharp, thin knife) inserted in middle comes out clean.

Pastry Crust
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. shortening
  • 7 tbsp. ice water

Place flour in a medium bowl; add salt; stir. Using a pastry cutter, cut the shortening into the flour until it forms a coarse, crumbly mixture. Using a fork, gently stir in the cold water. Mix only until the dough forms a ball. Use your hands to squish it together a bit if needed, but do not knead! Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface; line a large pie plate (2 inches deep). Trim the excess from the edges of the pan if there is dough hanging over the edges. Use the excess to make pastry leaves for garnish.