I’ve always wanted to try making a pumpkin pie from REAL pumpkin – not the glop in a can – and I was inspired by the step-by-step directions here to give it a try. It turned out to be much easier than I had thought it would be, and really successful even the first time around.
First step: purchase pie pumpkins (which give you the best flavor and consistency, aren’t too stringy or watery, and at about a 6″ diameter, are small enough to be manageable), cut in half and scoop out the guts. I used a pruning saw to cut the pumpkins – much easier than even a big knife! – and a serrated melon baller to scrape out the insides. I didn’t worry about getting every little bit, but I wanted them pretty much clean and string-free.
Second step: place pumpkins face down in baking tray and bake for 45-90 minutes at 350 degrees. At first, it seemed like nothing was happening, but by the time 90 minutes had passed, the rinds were soft and the insides were starting to look a little toasted.
Third step: scrape pumpkin meat from the rinds. Actually, it was even easier than this – most of the time, the rinds just peeled or even lifted right off. I ended up with a bowlful of somewhat chunky pumpkin meat.
Fourth step: puree pumpkin meat. I first tried a hand blender, then a big traditional blender – neither had any luck breaking up the somewhat chunky and thick pumpkin meat. The food processor, however, made quick work, pureeing it to a perfect consistency (as long as I did it in fairly small batches). I didn’t have any problems with the puree being too watery.
That’s it – perfect pumpkin puree! The next step was to make the pie – I have a really good oil pastry crust recipe from my mom for pie crust, but I wanted to try to make this beautiful pie, so I used this recipe. I think, in hindsight, it was a big mistake. First, talk about high-calorie! My recipe is just flour, vegetable oil (not a lot) and water, and it makes pretty nice, flaky pastry. This recipe called for almost TWO cubes of butter, plus another one-third cup of shortening! Also, I had trouble rolling the pastry out thin enough, so it feels a little too heavy.
The recipe made more than enough for one deep-dish pie, so I used the extra dough for a small pie-in-a-bowl, and I cut several thin strips to braid for the crust edging. The braiding was simple enough, but I wasn’t clear on how to attach it to the edges of the pie, so I just kind of smooshed the edges and the braid together. It held up well enough until I put it in the oven – then, largely because all of the butter made the heated pastry so slippery and soft, the braid just kind of melted down into the inside of the pie! I pulled it out, propped the braid back up, more squishing to attach it to the main crust, then back in again. This time it held, but my final product is less than picture perfect, that’s for sure!
Another problem I had was baking time – I left the pie crust in for 15 minutes, then 20 minutes (as called for in the recipe), but it was still so doughy and soft, I was nervous about putting the filling in at that point. I let it bake another 15-20 minutes before finally calling it good and taking it out. It was never clear to me how done it was supposed to be in this first stage of baking.
The pie filling was easy enough to mix up, but again, talk about a calorie overload! One-half cup of sugar AND one-half cup of honey (which is a lot of honey, let me tell you) AND more than a cup of whole cream . . . oh boy. Usually I just mix pumpkin puree with some sugar and skim milk (and then cinnamon and spices) and that’s it, it’s still very tasty, but a lot more reasonable calorie-wise. Anyway, I whipped up the filling and poured it in – it was enough to fill both my deep-dish pie and my pie-in-a-bowl to the rim. Back into the oven they went . . . I did over the braided edges of the crust with aluminum foil, because they started to brown too quickly. Otherwise, it baked just as called for in the recipe.
I think that the finished product looks – and tastes – pretty good (other than the smashed braided edging), but next time, I’m going to try a lower calorie option for both crust and filling. I did save the pumpkin seeds, washed and dried them, then coated them in butter and salt and baked them – delicious, but I think I should have toned down the butter just a little (or altogether)
One other note – the beautiful rolling pin and pie dish are both from Farmhouse Pottery, and I love how they feel and look!