I am pretty sure that it goes without saying that few things signify this time of year more than pumpkin pie. Whether it was purchased from the freezer section of a grocery store or baked at home by my grandmother, I am quite sure I have eaten some every year around this time since I was born. And when it comes to Thanksgiving, there have always been two dishes that have held the most importance to me: sweet potatoes smothered in some kind of marshmallow topping and pumpkin pie with whipped cream piled high on top. What can I say? I am rather old fashioned.
This year will mark the fourth year that I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner by myself (although this will be the first year that my mom will be in town helping out). I usually have always used this recipe (Martha, you know I love you), but this year I wanted to try something new. While at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a stand with a ton of inexpensive sugar pumpkins and a pile of printed out recipes next to them. I decided right then that this would be the year that I make a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin and not just a can of puree.
Since I had never done it before (I am not even sure I have even eaten a pie made from fresh pumpkin), I thought it would be a wise idea to try it out ahead of time - and really, two pies in a couple week's time is better than one. Alice was also intrigued by the idea so she came on over to help me out with the process. Thanks to her, my little sugar pumpkin was hacked up, steamed, and separated from the skin in no time. Do you want to know a secret? Alice has never, ever had pumpkin pie. And she still hasn't, since she had to bring her son home before it was fully set. I am going to have to make her come over today for a slice- she's been missing out.
Here is how to make your own pumpkin puree: Start with a small-medium sugar pumpkin, cut out the stem, and scrape out the gooey guts & seeds (save the seeds if you want to roast them). Cut into large chunks and steam/boil in a saucepan with a couple inches of water at the bottom, until soft. Scoop out (or, as Alice did, just squeeze the skin right off). Either use a potato masher to mash it up or run through a food mill or food processor to make extra smooth. (Alternatively, you can do it this way, which consists of baking the pumpkin instead of boiling it- I find boiling it easier, but I am assuming that baking the pumpkin creates a richer flavor).
Also, that pumpkin size (as you can see from the picture of me holding it) made exactly 4 cups of pumpkin puree, which is enough to make two pies. This made me quite happy, since I now have the extra 2 cups sitting in my freezer, ready for Thanksgiving.
This was the first time in awhile that I strayed away from the King of the Pie Crusts and sadly, it wasn't such a good idea. The crust I used, a recipe from the Chocolate and Zucchini Cookbook has been good in the past for making small tarts, but just didn't cut it for the pumpkin pie. I will say, however, that it worked just perfectly for the adorable leaf designs that Alice created (that I sprinkled with cinnamon sugar) for the top. But do me a favor- make the perfect pate brisee recipe. You won't be sorry.
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie: recipe from the farmer's market
2 cups of pumpkin pulp puree from a sugar pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream or 1 12oz. can of full-fat evaporated milk
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice (you can make your own by combining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
1 good crust
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together sugars, salt, and spices. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the cream. Whisk all together until well incorporated.
Pour into pie shell and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, until fully set. Serve with whipped cream.