ScratchThat: Pumpkin Pie

Last week my anti-cooking friend E announced she was making a pumpkin pie from scratch for Thanksgiving. After LOLing for a solid minute, she explained to me that it was her daughter who actually wanted to make the pie, so E was going to help her not burn the house down. All she needed was my recipe (and a fire extinguisher).

Sadly I had to confess I’d never made a pumpkin pie from scratch, but swore I’d find one for her.

And ever since then I’ve spent every night up to my elbows in pumpkin puree tweaking measurements, perfecting this orange wonder.

And is it ever wonderful.

Disclaimer: This isn’t the most involved pie I’ve ever made, but it’s pretty high on the list. If you’re really in a hurry, just grab a can of pumpkin pie and be done with it. Hell, you might want to do that ANYWAYS just in case this pie fails. You never know…

Pumpkin Pie:
1 pie or sugar pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream (liquid… not the stuff in the can)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 or 9 inch prepared uncooked pie crust (premade from the freezer section or from scratch)

Pie pumpkins. They’re not jack-o-lanterns. They’re not squash. They’re those little pumpkins next to the squash which are too small to carve, but too big to bounce. Stater Brothers has them. I’d assume Ralphs and Vons does too. Ask someone in the produce section if you can’t find one yourself. If you really REALLY can’t find one… just get a can of pumpkin.

Wash your pie pumpkin to get any dirt off. Dry, stem & quarter it. Tip: Use a serrated knife! Power saws are a lot faster. Task your hubby with cutting the pumpkin if you’re concerned about losing a finger. Note: The smaller you segment the pumpkin, the faster it will cook and easier it will be to peel the skin off.

Gut the pumpkin seeds and stringy insides and toss, or save if you want to make toasted pumpkin seeds.

Place the pumpkin pieces skin-down in a shallow baking dish with half an inch of water. Cover with a dish towel and pop in the microwave for 20 minutes. If your microwave doesn’t have a rotating plate, make sure you rotate the baking dish half-way through cooking time (that’s like at 10 minutes).

Remove the baking dish from the microwave and let come to room temperature before peeling the skin off.

Place the pumpkin meat in a blender and puree until smooth. This can take some time depending on your blender. Don’t be afraid to stick a spoon in there (while the blender is OFF) and swish the pumpkin around until it’s completely smooth. It’s going to look like baby food at this point.

Here you have a couple options. A: Continue on with the recipe. B. Strain the pumpkin through some cheesecloth to get the extra liquid out. A is quicker, B prevents your pie from becoming too soupy. Pumpkin in a can already has the extra liquid removed. If you’re going to strain your fresh pumpkin puree, place a double-layer of cheesecloth over a Tupperware container and place the puree in the cheesecloth. Leave an inch of space between the bottom of the container and the bottom of your pumpkin-filled hammock. Refrigerate overnight and in the morning you’ll have pumpkin and pumpkin liquid! Discard the liquid and continue on with the next step.

Preheat your oven to 375F, arranging racks so your oven space is cut into thirds.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until combined. Add in spices and salt. Add in pumpkin and cream, mixing until no streaks of white remain. Pour pumpkin mixture in prepared pie crust. Place uncooked pie on a baking sheet and place in oven. Remember when I told you to arrange your racks? Place the baking sheet + pie on the topmost rack if your oven’s heating element comes from the bottom. Place the baking sheet + pie on the bottommost rack if your oven’s heating element comes from the top! See, there’s a method to the madness ;)

Why are there terracotta tiles in our oven? To keep the temperature constant! They absorb the heat of your oven so while it cycles on and off to keep its heat constant, the tiles make up for the cyclic difference. BAM.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before enjoying!


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