Pumpkin Pie, from Scratch: A Tutorial - The Gingered Whisk

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pie, from Scratch: A Tutorial


I am so excited! Today I have my first ever guest post! One of my dearest friends Amy makes an incredible pumpkin pie from scratch, and I asked, begged, told her she had to share the recipe with you! She worked her tail off to write a super informative post for you guys! So, without further ado, here she is! (Everyone please leave her some comment love and let her know what an awesome job she did!)

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Hi, my name is Amy, and Jenni is one of my very best friends. When we're together we are usually cooking, or eating, or talking about what food we want to eat next. 

Okay, so most of my cooking doesn't use real specific measurements of ingredients but involves tasting and throwing in what ever I have on hand. Baking is a little different animal, and it changes with things like humidity levels and altitudes, but tends to follow instructions a little closer. When my amazing friend, Jenni, asked me to share my pumpkin pie from scratch recipe, I decided I'd have to wait til I made my pies this year so I could write down what I did. I usually tackle this project on two different days, one day to get the pumpkin ready and another day later that week to make it into pie. It's a fairly time consuming and messy process, so block a few hours out, grab your apron, and let's get started.

The Pumpkin
The first step is picking out your pumpkin, which you'll probably need to get around Halloween because they tend to disappear after that. I like to get the little pie pumpkins, but a large one will work too.  One pie pumpkin gives you 2-3 cups of cooked pumpkin, and it freezes well. The big pumpkins make a lot more, depending on how big you get. It'll be easier to manage and fit in your oven to get several smaller pumpkins than to pick out Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin. I get more than I need so I can freeze some to make other things later, like bread and muffins.
Some folks like to cut their pumpkin up (after removing the seeds) and boil it until it can be mashed. I've made it that way, and it adds a LOT of water to your pumpkin pulp that you have to drain, and squeeze out, and drain again.  I like to bake mine in the oven on cookie sheets.  The little pie pumpkins are so tough they're almost impossible to cut when they aren't baked, so we'll bake them whole. 
Adjust your oven racks and pre heat to 350°. Wash your pumpkin really well, and snap off its stem if you can. If you can't, it's okay. 
While its still wet sit it on your cookie sheet and sprinkle salt on the out side. Two pumpkins can share a rimmed cookie sheet if they fit. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of it and pop them in the oven. If you have a big pumpkin, cut it in half and take out the seeds, then rub the outside with salt and sit it face down on a baking sheet. Add a half a cup of water to the bottom of it and put it in the oven. 
Check on them after an hour, and poke a fork through the outer skin, when it goes in easily and comes out clean they're done. 
Now out is time to cut your little pumpkin in half so it can cool and you can work on it. If you got a big one just turn it face up to cool. You can probably hear its juices boiling inside of it, and be very careful when you open it because that hot steam will escape and try to burn you. Cut it straight in half and let it sit facing up to cool.
Once it has cooled enough that you won't burn yourself, get a spoon and gently scrape out the seeds and stringy parts. 
With that same spoon, scoop the pumpkin flesh out of its skin and put it in a mixing bowl. You'll be left with the outside shell to discard.
Use your potato masher to smash the pumpkin into shapeless pulp, and I usually measure it into 2 cups per zip lock bag to store or freeze. It'll keep in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about four months.
See pumpkin pie, part two The Crust, for the next step.

The Crust
Pie crusts are temperamental on the best of days, and can end in horrific disaster on the worse days. So I won't tell a soul if you buy one and move on to the filling stage. But if you're feeling adventurous, cinch on that apron and clear some counter space and off we'll go.

Ingredients:
2 cups of flour
1 tsp of salt
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp of crisco
and a few tbsp of ice water, enough to roll out your dough.

This will make 2 pie crusts. I put the flour, salt, and shortening in a mixing bowl, and using a fork and butter knife, cut into it until it looks crumbly, and you can kind of stick those crumbles together.  If its too sticky add a few tbsp of flour.


You'll want to get it into a ball, and may need to add a tbsp of ice water at a time to get it sticky enough to do it. Divide the dough in half.
You'll roll it out on a floured surface, and I've actually found if you tape wax paper to your table, then flour and work over that you can transfer your crust more easily to the pie pan.


Roll your crust into a big circle, and you can hold your pie pan over it to make sure its big enough, even it out if you need to.


Now for the difficult part, transferring it into the pie pan. If I don't use the wax paper method, I flour a pancake flipper and work under the crust to get it free. I fold it in half, and in half again, lift it off the table and into its dish, and then unfold and pat it in place.  It sounds much easier than it is, and it usually tears. Just squish and pat it together again until the bottom and sides of the dish are covered.
If you used wax paper, slide one hand under the wax paper crust and place your pie pan over your crust, and carefully lift up and flip it over. Then peel the paper off, and pat your crust into place. If you have a tear that won't stick back together, dip your finger in the ice water and glue it back in place, just like magic.


Then I trim the extra around the top away if there is any and pinch around the top edge of the crust to make it look like a ruffle.

Stick your crust in the fridge while we move onto the filling.


The Filling
Ingredients: (makes 1 pie)
2 cups of cooked pumpkin
3/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup 2% milk

I have a kitchen aide mixer, and I love it very much. You can also use a hand mixer for the filling.
Pre heat your oven to 375°.
Mix your pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt together until well blended.
Add the eggs and mix them in but don't fluff.
Then add the canned and regular milk. It'll get kind of soupy, but that's okay.


Pour the mixture into your pie crust.


Very carefully sit your pie on the center rack in the oven, being especially careful not to slosh it over the sides of the crust.
Tear off a big square of foil and lay it over your pie.
Cook for 25 minutes, and then remove the foil.
After your pie has been in the oven an hour, reach in with your oven mitt and jiggle the pie pan a little. Is it still real wiggly? Check back in 10 minutes. If its firmer, closer to what you see around the edge of the pie, poke a sharp knife in the middle. If it comes put clean, that pie is done!


Cool it on a rack and I put mine in the fridge after its cool as it helps it set up quicker. It goes well with whipped cream!

Whipped cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp rum or vanilla extract
In a chilled mixing bowl, beat whipping cream, sugar, and extract with an electric mixer on med high speed until soft peaks form. Cover and chill until serving time.

Enjoy!


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