It’s pumpkin time! Even Jack, our cat, is getting involved this year, checking out the strange gourd that found itself in our apartment. It may look small from the photo, but this was no tiny pumpkin, I assure you. Taking a knife to it and cubing up all the flesh, we managed to fill the roasting pan and two mixing bowls. So you know what that means….
Pumpkin pie, Pumpkin soup, Pumpkin tarts, Pumpkin brownies, Pumpkin bread
and maybe, just maybe a Pumpkin cake.
The most tedious part is getting the pumpkin ready. Lots of cutting….
What’s that? Why yes, it does look like those seeds inside need to be roasted! Spread on a baking sheet, dose in salt. About 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees with a violent shake part way through.
Oh, there was a night filled with cutting into the pumpkin, cutting off the orange skin and then cubing it up. This was paired with “Here, she needs to be fed/changed/rocked/ cuddled” at which point Eric and I would switch between Ella and the pumpkin. Hard to say which one was harder to tend to, but the pumpkin made less noise.
After being cut to pieces, there was boiling of the little cubes.
It’s kinda nice that I can toss the pumpkin in, set the temperature, and go do other things. As long as it’s on a low boil, it’s really hard to over cook the pumpkin, plus you get a nice smell in the house. That is, as long as you like the smell of pumpkin.
Last step before baking with this gourd is to drain and purée the pumpkin. There are a few ways to do this but I decided to use a hand blender which can be used while the pumpkin is still hot. If you’re using a glass blender, Magic Bullet or anything that has to be closed to blend PLEASE let the pumpkin cool down first! I made that mistake last year and found that a few things can potentially happen;
- The heat will cause the screw on blade of a Magic Bullet to magically become sealed and a team effort will be needed to unscrew the lid
- If the pumpkin is hot enough the plastic or glass might crack creating unsafe situations and leave you with one less blender and messy pumpkin guts everywhere
Just pour cold water over the pieces if you’re in a rush.
Now (it’s FINALLY) time to get down to some pie!
I decided to make my own crust as well, using the following recipe:
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour + 2 tsp salt
1 lb lard or shortening (chill a little in the freezer so its easier to work with)
1 tbsp vinegar
1 egg, beaten
Once you’ve mixed the salt and flour, cut in the lard. I like to cut up the lard itself first and then mix it into the flour with my hands. Whatever way you do it, make sure it looks like course oatmeal before moving on.
In a one cup measure, combine the egg and vinegar. Why use vinegar? Makes the crust lighter and fluffier. Don’t worry, it won’t taste like fish and chips. Add the cold water to the egg and vinegar to make just less than one cup. Dig a well into the flour mixture and pour it in. Here’s where it gets messy. Mix everything together until it’s a dough. If it looks dry after mixing you can add a bit more water, but be careful! If the dough is too tacky and just falling apart, you can add a little bit of flour but try not to – too much flour makes for a heavier crust and takes away from the pie.
Now, this does make a lot of crust (enough for 6 9″ round pies) so wrap it in plastic and save it in the fridge, freezer, give it to a friend to use or make a lot of pies.
I decided on the last option and made pie plus tarts.
You can press the pie into your forms or, what I did, was to roll it between two pieces of wax paper. No wax paper? Save the bag from your cereal (and wipe out the left over cereal crumbs) so you can use that instead. Press or lay the dough into your forms.
With a fork, I poked holes into the crust, so air doesn’t get trapped and create a bubble under the crust or in the pie.
Only thing left to do is make some filling and load it into the crust. The filling I use is an adaptation from a recipe I found in my mom’s cupboards about 10 years ago.
Filling for Pumpkin Pie
2 cups pumpkin purée
1/3 cup of sugar + 1/8 cup flour
a couple pinches each of cinnamon and nutmeg
1/3 cup of cream (coffee cream or whipping cream works)
1/3 cup of hazelnut coffee cream
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat together all the ingredients except the cream until the mixture is nice as smooth (no gooey egg bits falling off your beaters). Now, the cream should be added slowly, especially if you’ve decided to use whipping cream. Whipping cream gives a nice fluffy and creamy taste to the pie, but if you go crazy and beat it till the mixture is thick, your pie will taste more like an omelet. Also, I love using the hazelnut cream, but if that’s not your thing and you want more pumpkin to come through, use 2/3 of a cup of cream and 2/3 of a cup of sugar and no flour. Just play with it and make it your own.
So now with a runny mixture, pour or spoon it into the pie shell. I had help from my wonderful husband since Ella demanded my attention at this point (and Eric didn’t want to wait any longer for pie).
Really, who could deny that face?
Bake the pie for about 55 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean. It tastes wonderful either warm or cooled, but we prefer it cool with a bit of whipped cream on top.
Now, a tiny disclaimer as to why this post is so freakin’ late. Before I had a chance to take a picture of the finished pie and tarts, I noticed that several tarts and a quarter of the pie were missing. Seems as though they found their way into Eric’s mouth and stomach before my camera found them. My move was to make another pie, naturally, as I’d promised one to friends of ours for Thanksgiving (October here in Canada). Sadly, this one also made it into mouths before my camera found it. After that, it simply took another two weeks for the stars to align exactly right, making it possible for pie + picture to work itself out. I present, finally, pie.
I got fancy on this one and dug up some pie shapes, cutting out left over crust dough and arranging them onto the edges of the pie plate. Also made a pumpkin cut out so I could cover up the hole I poked when checking if the masterpiece was done.
Oh, and the tin foil? About 20 minutes into baking the pie, I noticed the shapes were a lovely brown and the pie was absolutely NOT ready. Giving it a tin foil scarf lets the pie continue baking while the shapes stay un-burnt. I also used the cookie sheet after putting on the tin foil so that it was easier to take the pie in and out of the oven without cracking off any leaves.
So there’s my intro into fall (better late than never, right?). And since there was some extra pumpkin (kept in the freezer so it wouldn’t spoil), I feel some cookies need to be baked.