There are pumpkin pies and then there is ambrosial pumpkin pie that comes from my mother’s recipe. I’ve made this for company and my family for years and it never fails to get a lot of ohhs and ahhs. The secret is a good flaky crust, a smooth custard filling and a bottom crust that has butter, brown sugar and nuts baked into it. If there is heaven, this is served in it.
They are all pretty much the same and so I won’t bother you with that here, but I will let you in on my secrets to a Truly Great Crust. Substitute about a quarter of a cup of the white flour with whole wheat flour and quarter of the total flour with Wondra, that over-processed stuff in the blue and white can. It makes the pastry truly flaky. By using part whole wheat, I’m adding back in some of the nutritious goodies that were taken out in processing of the white and Wondra flour, as well as adding a slightly more robust flavor. You can play around with the amounts of whole wheat and Wondra but I wouldn’t go over a half cup of Wondra with one and a half cups of white/whole wheat flour. (2 cups of flour total). Even a couple of tablespoons of whole wheat flour in place of the white gives the crust a stronger flavor and the folks who only like white flour (my husband) won’t complain.
I use the Cuisinart to make pastry since that assures that you don’t overwork the flour and end up with a tough crust, the anathema of pastry chefs. Also, sometimes an all butter crust gets tough, and so I substitute half of the butter with safflower oil. Pulse flour/oil/butter/dash of salt in the Cuisinart until crumbly (no longer-you don’t want it to form into a ball) , then add the ice water. And pulse again. Again, DO NOT OVER PULSE. YOU STILL WANT IT CRUMBLY. Form it into a ball and then a disc once you take out out of the Cuisinart–onto a sheet of plastic wrap.
After you make a flat disc with the crust on plastic wrap, let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour. (Overnight or a day or two is fine, but longer than that, I’d freeze it.) Roll it out between plastic wrap (you will have to use overlapping sheets to get the whole crust on the plastic, but it is worth it. I’m usually very stingy about wasting plastic (there is too much in the world) and such, but this is one case where it makes life so much easier, and you won’t end up swearing and scraping the crust off your counter. After you have rolled it out to size, peel away the top layer of plastic, move the pie dish close to the crust, and lift it off the counter on the plastic, and turn it upside down on the pie plate. Voila!
Now. The filling.
Praline Pumpkin Pie
Yield two small or one large pie
Pre heat oven to 425 F
- 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
- 1/3 cup ground pecans or walnuts
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- Mix this together with a fork and press into bottom of crust. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil to keep it from over browing during this high heat period. Reduce Temperature to 325 F.
- The real deal:
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ can (small) can of pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, your choice; dark has more molasses, and thus a deeper flavor)
- 1 tablespoon + all-purpose flour
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (Don’t have it? Don’t worry–it’s the outer shell of nutmeg and is used in very few recipes these; medieval folks loved it.)
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or more
- 1 teaspoon salt or less
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or more. (I love it, add a heaping 1/2 t, but if ginger is a tad too zesty for you and your guests, eliminate or cut down to 1/4 t)
- ½ -1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg –generous grating of fresh (Fresh makes all the difference. Use a plane grater for an even grate.)
- 1 cup light cream or can of evaporated milk. Now taste it. You can add more or less of any spice you like (careful with the cloves) and add more sugar for a sweeter taste.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, 2/3 cup brown sugar, flour, cloves, mace, cinnamon, salt and ginger. Blend in cream until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into partially baked shell.
Bake at 325F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until filling is set. (It takes longer in glass, less in a tin.) The oven will start out much hotter for the filling, since it has been up to 425 F. Usually the center with split a bit when it done. That’s fine. Use a toothpick or a cake tester that comes out clean to make sure it is fully set.
I serve this with heavy cream whipped with a small amount of sugar (to taste, I like it not very sweet because the pie is) and a tablespoon or more of bourbon or rum. Years ago in Glamour magazine I read that men find the aroma of pumpkin…sexy. My husband loves the smell, and he still loves me, so maybe there is some truth to that.
PS: What are you going to do with a half can of pumpkin? I simply used two full cans, added a scant 1/3 cup more sugar (light brown); upped the spices about 1/4 t all except clove –just a healthy pinch or a half of a 1/4 t, an extra egg, and a 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and poured all the excess in a small baking dish. They bake in much less time than the pie –check them in a half hour.