Pumpkin Pie Perfection

Pie Pumpkins

It seems everyone is trying to reinvent the pumpkin pie this year, in some attempt to make the Thanksgiving dessert-staple better. Pinterest is rife with cheesecakes, pecan crusts, creme bruleed tops and all sorts of trendy pumpkin madness. Sorry folks. But the recipe from Libby’s canned pumpkin purée is THE best. It is simple, time tested, and the perfect balance of sweet-creamy-spiced pumpkin goodness! Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, people!

Despite giving Libby’s the much-due credit for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe, I think it’s time we all shit-can the can. This year, I decided to do just that! And after my first test round, I wondered why I hadn’t done this a decade ago. If you want to make your pumpkin pie better, start with a real pumpkin.

Do not use that jack o’lantern from Halloween. It is way too big, and I’m sure it’s rotten by now. Look for a small Sugar Pumpkin (also called a Pie Pumpkin). These little guys are made specifically for baking, and have a creamier, less grainy flesh. A 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pound pumpkin should yield enough flesh for one pie. My 4 pumpkins averaged 1 1/2 pounds, and I had just enough for 4 pies. But when in doubt, go a little bigger. It’s better to have a little extra than to not have enough.

Pumpkins scraped

There are numerous ways to process your pumpkin, and get it ready to become pie. The method I chose seemed like the easiest. Start by cutting your pumpkin in half (through the top and bottom). Then you scoop out the seeds and place it cut-side down on a parchment lined baking pan. Don’t stress about the stringy bits around the seeds – this will be much easier to remove after the pumpkin has been cooked. Put it in the oven and roast it for about an hour. Next, pull it out and let it sit, still cut-side down, for about an hour. The steam will help finish the cooking, then it will cool enough to handle. Lastly, scoop it, mash it and use it! A run through the food processor can take care of the mashing, and ensure a nice even consistency.

Pumpkins Roasting

The best part about recipe websites are the comments (of which my blog has few….get to cooking, and share your 2 cents!). It’s great to see people talk about the recipe, what worked for them, changes that they made, and some jewels of info that you don’t always get from a cookbook. Since I didn’t buy canned pumpkin, I didn’t have the recipe! But I had the internet, so problem solved – and I found a jewel too! One of the commentators of the Libby’s recipe pointed out that at some point the recipe changed. That the original recipe called for only 2/3 can of evaporated milk (instead of the full can). Good to know! So use your judgment about the filling consistency, and don’t feel obligated to use that whole can of milk.

Pumpkin Pie

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 pie crust, unbaked
  • Sugar pumpkin
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Slice pumpkin(s) in half, remove seeds. Place pumpkin cut-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast at 325F for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for an hour. Scoop flesh into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Measure out 1 3/4 cups, and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, sugar, spices and salt. Whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in 1/3 can of milk. Continue adding  milk until desired consistency is reached (between 2/3 and whole can).

Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. reduce head to 350F and bake for 40 more minutes or until set.

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