September 15, 2012
Pumpkin pie is a true American holiday tradition holding a revered place on the Thanksgiving table. Perhaps after so many centuries we have forgotten the importance of pumpkins. Pumpkins were a true gift to the earliest settlers in America from the Native Americans. The pumpkin ensured the survival of the early settlers. The first "pie" the Pilgrims made was by cleaning out a pumpkin and filling the cavity with eggs, milk, spices and maple syrup and baked creating a custard. Pumpkins were a staple and they used in them in many of their dishes.
For pottage, and puddings, and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies.
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon;
If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon.
From Food of Our Forefathers, by Gertrude Ida Thomas
The smell of pumpkin pie baking has to be one of the best olfactory experiences always bringing back memories from childhood to my own earliest attempts at making pie. This is the pumpkin pie recipe that I have settled on after making several recipes. There are more steps but the end result is a delightful spicy pumpkin flavor with a smooth texture. Pumpkins kI make it twice a year -- Thanksgiving and Christmas
Makes one 9-inch pie
Makes Single Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons of ice cold butter cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor pulse flour, sugar, salt for 10 seconds.
Open lid and spread butter cubes over flour return lid and pulse for around 10 seconds until mixture looks like crumbs with some larger pieces of butter.
Add water through the feed tube until dough comes together when you gather up in your hand a squeeze. This should take no more than 30 seconds. Over processed dough equals a tough crust.
If too crumbly and it won't hold together, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time.
Flatten into a disk on a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight or I pop mine into the freezer for 20-30 minutes
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a disk about 9 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch in thickness.
Place dough pie dish gently pushing dough into edges not stretching. Trim edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes or 15 minutes in the freezer.
Blind bake using foil or parchment to line the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake the crust at 375F for 25 minutes.
While the crust is baking:
Raise oven temperature to 400F as soon as pie crust comes out of oven
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
Process pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in a food processor until smooth.
Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat - it will spit.
Cook pumpkin stirring constantly until thick and shiny about 5 minutes.
Whisk cream and milk into pumpkin and bring to a low simmer then remove from heat.
Add eggs to food processor and pulse for 5 seconds.
With motor running pour half the hot mixture through the feed tube. Then open the top and add the remaining mixture and process around 30 seconds.
Pour the mixture into the hot crust.
Bake for 25 minutes until the top the top looks dry and the center jiggles slightly.
Cool for 1 hour or so.
Serve with whipped cream.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated TV series