Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Pumpkin Pie is a winter favorite. It's yummy with a dollop of whipped cream and can be made in a snap. Yes, pumpkin pie is easy to make! I think the depth of flavors of using a from scratch crust and home-made pumpkin puree can't be beat, and doesn't add that much more work.
To make pumpkin pie, we have to start with pumpkin. A pie pumpkin is the obvious choice, but I like baking just about any winter squash for pureeing. Butternut squash, sweet dumplings, delicata's, a field pumpkin or a combination of squashes works well. I love the deeper orange color and sweet flavor that a delicata or buttercup adds to a pie. The simplest way I like to cook squash is to bake it in the oven. Smaller squash can be cut in half with a strong knife (please be careful). If it is a large squash, like a hubbard or a large field pumpkin, I have actually put it in a trash bag and dropped it on a concrete floor. Sometimes their rind is just too tough to try to cut through. After the squash has been busted open it is easier to either crack it completely open or use a knife to cut it into smaller pieces. Using a large spoon remove seeds and either discard or keep to make roasted pumpkin seeds. Place pieces face down in a shallow pan with 1/2” water. Bake in a 350 degree oven for at least one hour or until squash is very tender. Cool completely. With a spoon, scoop the squash and puree in a food processor about 1 cup at a time. The puree should be stored in the refrigerator, or frozen.
Next step is to make a pie crust. The boiling water crust recipe I used for strawberry shortcake works well. This recipe is enough for a 9” or 10” crust. This is a link to a traditional crust using ice water. After mixing the dough and forming it into a flattened ball, lightly flour a clean countertop. Using the rolling pin, lightly and evenly roll out the dough. Before it gets more than 8” across, lift up the edges and dust more flour underneath to ensure it won't stick to the surface. Continue rolling until it is about 2” larger around than the pan being used. I made this video to show the process of lifting the crust, transferring it to the pan and fluting the edges:
Ok, we have the pumpkin puree, a fabulous home-made crust and now we are ready to mix the filling and get that pie in the oven!
This is a recipe that comes from my Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook, printed in 1965.
Tawny Pumpkin Pie
Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and flour in mixing bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add evaporated milk, water and vanilla; mix. Pour into pie shell. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 45-50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
I use more pumpkin than this recipe calls for (1 ½ cups), and I use half-n-half or raw milk in place of the evaporated milk (and omit the water). Cool completely after baking. Refrigeration is necessary since it is basically a custard pie.
Good luck with any pie baking that you pursue and let me know how it goes!