Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
One of the mainstays of a Thanksgiving Dinner is a pumpkin pie. It symbolizes a good harvest. That is why families always try to make the best homemade pumpkin pie come Thanksgiving. This delicious pie can also be a great addition to a feast on special occasions. Making a pumpkin pie is easy. If you haven’t made one before, we’ll teach you how.
For obvious reasons, making a delicious traditional pumpkin pie starts with choosing the right variety of the vegetable. There are different varieties. Picking the wrong one can result in a pie that is less than satisfactory. It can dampen the festive mood of Thanksgiving. Instead of everyone enjoying a great dinner, you will be sulking in a corner cursing yourself as to why you chose one particular pumpkin over the other.
Some people think that the best pumpkins to use in a pie are those used for making Jack o’ Lanterns. For most people, it does not matter what variety of pumpkin one uses in his or her pie. After all, the addition of spices can still enhance the overall flavor of the recipe.
However, you do not want to use a pumpkin intended for Jack o’ Lanterns. They have a very fibrous flesh that can leave your pie very stringy. No one wants to eat a homemade pumpkin pie with fibers getting lodged in between their teeth.
The best variety to use are those that have a dense and sweet flesh. You might think that the addition of spices can make a bland flesh taste appetizing. If it does, you can almost imagine what these spices can do with the natural flavors of a sweet winter squash.
Avid fans of the traditional pumpkin pie always recommend winter squash varieties. The best, so far, is the Zucchino Rampicante. It doesn’t look like the traditional squash that you know. They have a long and slender form that resembles that of a snake. It looks more like a zucchini. However, it tastes a lot like butternut squash. It is sweeter and has a very mild squash taste. It also imparts nutty tones and its flesh is more tender than other varieties of pumpkins.
A butternut squash will also be great for pies. Other excellent options are Sugar Pies, Cinderellas, Pink Bananas, and Blue Hubbards.
Fresh or Canned?
One of the things you have to decide on when making homemade pumpkin pie is whether to use fresh pumpkin puree or use a store-bought canned pumpkin. The most obvious difference is the convenience of using canned pumpkin. You can also choose the right type of ingredient to use in your recipe. There are now canned products that put “for pies” on their labels. They provide you with a no-nonsense choice.
On the other hand, making pumpkin puree yourself can be very tedious. Without any additional ingredients, they can taste like a bland canned pumpkin puree. However, the moment you start adding ingredients to the puree, the difference can be more noticeable. Fresh pumpkin has a more refined, sweet taste than canned varieties. Perhaps this has something to do with the ‘other’ ingredients that manufacturers have to put in their products to improve its shelf life.
The most remarkable difference is in the texture. Canned pumpkin has a rich, cheese-like texture. It is almost similar to ricotta cheese. Fresh pumpkin has a more velvety and thicker texture. It feels like sweet potatoes on the tongue.
Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree
If you decide to make your very own pumpkin puree, there are at least three different ways you can make it. You can bake the pumpkin, steam it, or boil it. The most important point here is to soften the vegetable so that you can mash it or blend it into a puree.
The first step in making a pumpkin puree is cleaning the vegetable. It is important to remove any dirt and other particles that may be present on the peel or skin. You also need to dry it very well. The next task is to cut the vegetable. This allows you to remove the stringy fibers and the seeds of the squash. Now, cut the vegetable into more manageable sizes.
The second part involves tenderizing the pumpkin flesh. If you are going to bake it, you should coat the surface of the pumpkin with oil. Place the pumpkin slices in a roasting pan. Do not forget to add a cup of water to help keep the moisture of the vegetable. Bake the pumpkin until fork tender.
Boiling is a lot easier. Unfortunately, some of the flavors of the pumpkin can go into the boiling water. Steaming it is much better. This will take almost double the time it would take you to soften the pumpkin slices using the boiling method.
Once the pumpkin is already tender, you can start turning it into a puree. You can use a standard food processor for this. A food mill or a hand blender also works. If you do not have any of these kitchen tools, you can always mash it by hand. Use a potato masher to turn the pumpkin into a soft consistency. You can also use a large fork. You may have to press the mashed pumpkin through a fine sieve to get the kind of consistency that you need for a puree.
The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
The traditional pumpkin pie recipe calls for the use of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and powdered ginger. However, there are some recipes that replace nutmeg and clove with allspice. There are also some home cooks who would like to add vanilla to their creations. This will further elevate the sweetness of the cinnamon. This recipe we are going to share with you is one of the best. We strongly recommend using fresh pumpkin puree that you made yourself. You can always use a canned version if you want, of course.
Ingredients for the Pie Crust
- 1 and ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into half-inch cubes
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water
- ½ teaspoon of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
Ingredients for the Filling
- 2 cups of fresh pumpkin puree (you can also use canned pumpkin puree, about 15 ounces)
- 1 and ½ cups of heavy cream (you can also use evaporated milk, about 12 ounces)
- ½ cup of dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of white sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon of cloves, ground
- ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom, ground
Directions for Making the Crust
- Mix the all-purpose flour with sugar and salt. Use a food processor to combine the ingredients very well.
- Add half of the chilled butter cubes. Pulse the mixture about 8 times. Add the remaining half of the butter cubes. Pulse again for about 6 times.
- Add about two tablespoons of the ice water into the mixture. Pulse the mixture several times. Continue adding a teaspoon of ice water into the mixture and pulsing it several times in between additions. What you want is to obtain a crumbly dough. Try pinching some of the dough. If it does not fall off, then it is ready.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and knead it by hand. Roll it out to fit your 9-inch pie dish. Trim the pastry about half an inch beyond the outer edges of the dish. Flute the edges.
- Place the pie shell in the refrigerator.
Directions for Making the Filling
- Turn on your oven and preheat it to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the beaten eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, lemon zest, cloves, and salt. Mix very well until you get a uniform color.
- Add the pumpkin puree and mix well.
- Add the heavy cream and combine until you get a nice consistency and an even color.
Making the Pumpkin Pie
- Remove the pumpkin pie shell from the refrigerator.
- Pour the homemade pumpkin pie filling into the pie shell.
- Put in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to about 350°F after 15 minutes. Continue baking for another 45 minutes. If you do not want to get the pie’s edges too brown during baking, it would be wise to cover the edges with foil. You can do this about halfway in the baking process.
- Check the doneness of the pie by inserting the tip of a knife in the center of the pie. If the knife blade comes out clean, then your pie is ready.
- Remove the pumpkin pie from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Leave it to cool down for about 2 hours.
- Serve with your favorite whipped cream.
Thanksgiving will never be complete with a traditional pumpkin pie. You now know how to make one. The best part of it is that you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make this pie. You can make it anytime.