Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is always a traditional staple at our holiday dinners. This creamy, simple pie is delicious on it's own or with a mountain of whip cream (yes, we pile it on in our house!). It's hard to mess up pumpkin pie, but there are a few key steps that make it perfect:

Start by baking the crust before baking with the pie filling. Some people don't pre-bake; they bake the pie and crust all together. With a cream filling, the crust needs a head-start to cook thoroughly. It improves the overall texture of the pie if the crust is evenly crisp.

The filling can pose some challenges. It can be too wet and not set up properly, resulting in a mushy filling and soggy crust. I'm partial to Libby's recipe but I've tweaked it by using fresh pumpkin and simmering it with the spices(a trick learned from America's Test Kitchen). Simmering the pumpkin does two things: it allows the spices to bloom and "dries" the pumpkin--evaporating excess moisture and resulting in a better texture in the pie.

Overall, this is one the easiest pies to make, and it's so tasty!

Pumpkin Pie:
adapted from Libby's with some technique from America's Test Kitchen

1 single pie crust-recipe here
1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree-recipe here
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
Whipped cream for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Crust: On a floured surface, roll out crust to 1/8 inch thickness. Transfer dough to pie plate and press the dough evenly around sides of the plate. Using a pastry brush, brush off any excess flour. Trim pie crust to a 1-inch overhang around the edges. Using index finger and thumb, flute the edges of the crust. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking. Remove from refrigerator and line crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove paper and pie weights, rotate crust for even browning and bake for additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.

Filling: In a small saucepan, bring pumpkin to a sputtering simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves and simmer for an additional 10 minutes until pumpkin is thick and spices are fragrant. Allow the pumpkin to cool slightly before proceeding. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and whisk in the pumpkin mixture, sugar, salt and milk. Pour into the pie plate and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 degrees; bake an additional 20-30 minutes or until pumpkin is set. Cool completely before serving and refrigerate leftovers.

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