Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

We sat down for our Thanksgiving dinner early this year. The menu plan was a small turkey, spiced cranberries, sausage cornbread stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie.

While I was cooking, my daughter asked for biscuits to be on the menu too, and my son and husband seconded the request. I pointed out that we already had two starch products on the menu, mashed potatoes and stuffing, but my family continued to stare at me with a zombie death stare until I relented and said we could add some biscuits to the menu. The pie was already done by then which is all I was really interested in this year.

I do not have a single thing that I love more than anything else at Thanksgiving. Some years I am excited about the stuffing. Other years it is the salad (we usually have salad but not this year) or the mashed potatoes. This year I felt excited about the pie. My daughter and I made the crust while my husband and son went out to acquisition a turkey.

After we had the pumpkin puree in a bowl, I started pulling cookbooks off the shelf to determine what recipe to make. I decided to try Alice Waters recipe from The Art of Simple Food. She goes really light on the sugar so I added a little extra since it was the only sweet we were having, as well as some nutmeg because I love the way it smells. I left out the freshly ground black pepper which sounded delicious but was just not what I was in the mood for.

Pumpkin Pie
Barely adapted from The Art of Simple Food
Yields 1 pie

2 cups flour
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 T pieces
6 - 8 T ice cold water

1 sugar pumpkin or a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
3 eggs

1 cup cream
2 tsp flour

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Preparing the pumpkin (skip this if you are using canned pumpkin):

Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp and place it in a roasting pan. Pour in 1/2 cup of water and place in the oven. Roast for approximately one hour and a half (or less), depending on the size, adding more water if it gets too low. The pumpkin should be soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scoop out the flesh and mash (using a masher or a food processor). I just used a potato masher which worked well.

Preparing the pie crust:

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Sprinkle the butter over the mixture and using your fingers, mash the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles corn meal. Sprinkle the water over the mixture and using a wooden spoon, mix and press the mixture together. Form a ball, adding more water if needed, until it holds together. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in saran wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Reheat the oven to 375, if you turned it off.

Roll out the dough and transfer to a pie dish. Crimp the edges and pierce the bottom with a few fork stabs so it doesn't balloon up. Cover with aluminum foil, pressing gently against the sides to hold them up, and weigh it down with pie weights or beans or rice. Bake for fifteen minutes, remove the aluminum foil and weights and bake for another 5 - 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Preparing the pie filling:

In a small saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup cream with 2 tsp flour. Place over medium low heat until it comes to a boil and thickens. Slowly whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup cream. Continue whisking and bring back to a boil (still over medium low heat). Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, whisk together 1.5 cups of pumpkin puree (15 ounces) and 3 eggs.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt and nutmeg.

Add the cream mixture and sugar/spice mixture to the pumpkin, and mix together. Transfer to the pie shell and bake for 45 minutes until it is almost set but the center is still jiggles a little bit (i.e. it should not be cracked and dry looking, take it out before it reaches that point).

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