The Happiest Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

I wasn’t exaggerating… I really did buy 6 small sugar pumpkins last week. What was I supposed to do? They were on sale and staring up at me all orange and adorable. And despite the fact that I’m moving, and despite the fact that all the pumpkin I pureed and froze last year only got used up last week, I unequivocally do not regret this purchase. And yes, I will be importing Oregon pumpkin to Kansas Thanksgiving. I figure this will make my pie exceptionally exotic, even if it defies the locavore within.

Though not exactly exotic, Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday. (Partly because I loathe Christmas carols… Sorry if this offends you. I just can’t muster the love for them.) Anyhow, my mass of a family gathers in Kansas every year, and it is truly a mass - both my mother and my father’s extended ancestry crunched into one very small prairie town. The slow, meandering Midwestern pace is all but lost for these 72 hours of feasting.

As for the Boyts meal, I got assigned dessert this year. Which means pumpkin pie. Clearly.

One of the 6 sugar pumpkins, ready to roast

So I've got a pumpkin pie for you... My favorite pumpkin pie is from The Amish Cook Series. Lovina's pie is such a unique gem… a softly set pumpkin custard, less dense and thick on the mouth than the traditional, and atop that soft custard is this dainty, cake-like layer that is created by the beaten egg whites. I recommend using your own non-canned pureed pumpkin (here's how to do it). It'll beckon you like those 6 adorable (on sale) sugar pumpkins that called to me in the market. Not that I suggest you eat 6 slices of pie, or 6 of anything for that matter.

The Gluten Free Option

Notes on adaptation: I added an egg yolk as I wanted a slightly more set custard. Also I took out the 2 T of flour, which makes it a gluten free custard if you need.

The Amish Cook’s Pumpkin Pie
 Adapted from The Amish Cook at Home
(for one 9” pie)

1 pre-baked pie crust (see recipe below)
2 large eggs, separated + 1 egg yolk
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
small pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar, scant
pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk, scalded

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Lightly beat the 3 egg yolks in small bowl.
3. In large mixing bowl – combine the pumpkin, spices, vanilla, sugar, salt, and yolks. Stir till smooth.
4. Now add the milk gradually as you are whisking. This tempers the egg, preventing them from cooking under the heat of the milk.
5. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl till soft peaks form. Then fold these gently into the pumpkin mix. Gentle is the operative word here because otherwise you’re just losing all that air you worked so hard to put into the whites.

Where you want your egg whites

6. Pour filling into pie crust, then place pie in preheated oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the custard is set. It is set when only the very middle is just a tad bit jiggly. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature completely. Refrigerate if desired, but only when it’s completely cooled off.
7. Serve with whipped cream!

Note #1: If you’re curious about all the temperature sensitivity… here’s the deal… a custard contains a lot of eggs. And eggs are very sensitive little creatures. They respond fiercely to quick temperature increases and can curdle up. Great if you’re making scrambled eggs… not so much on Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. 

Note #2: If you'd like it Gluten Free, pour it in ramekins and bake in a water bath at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.


Pie Crust
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
8 Tablespoons cold butter
3-4 Tablespoons cold water
1 egg yolk

1. Stir the egg yolk into the cold water and put in the frig.

2. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the cold butter all at once and let the machine run till the butter is the texture of rough sand. The reason you’re going to sand is it help prevent leakage of that liquid pumpkin goodness
Note: If you're doing it by hand... whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and either use a pastry cutter to cut the butter or use your finger tips, rubbing the butter to break it into small pieces. 

3. Now add the water/yolk mix, 1 tablespoon at a time, as the machine is running until the dough gathers into a ball. Do this fairly quickly as it is important to not work the dough too much which will form gluten and make your pastry chewy and tough. 
Note: If you're doing it by hand... make a well in the flour/butter mixture and add a couple of tablespoons of water/yolk to this well. With your hands, bring the flour mixture into the water and mix it together. Continue adding water gradually till you can form a ball with your hands and it is not dry or cracking. 

4. Feel the dough, if it still cold you can roll it out right away. If it seems soft or warm, form it into a disc and place it in the frig for about 10 minutes. To roll it out, lightly flour a flat surface. Form the dough into a disc and slowly roll, with a floured rolling pin, from the center of the dough outward. Frequently check to make sure the dough is not sticking to your counter. If it is, dust the surface with a bit of flour.

5. Make sure to roll it large enough to fit the pan. Gently lift the dough by folding it up and draping it into the pan. Press snugly into pan and crimp the edge in whatever way you desire.

6. Stick in freezer for at least 15 minutes (This helps with texture).

7. When ready to bake, press a large piece of foil very snugly into the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until it no longer looks wet. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until it is golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Note: On the crust, that egg yolk tossed in there with the cold water is present because you’re putting a liquid filling in the crust. An egg yolk helps prevent leakage. Also, if you have access to leaf lard, use half butter, half lard. It will make the most perfectly flavored and textured crust of your life, and whatever… it’s Thanksgiving!! Give a hearty Thanks for leaf lard!

1 comment:

  1. Yum - can also use a bit of GF flour (2 TS) to make it a crustless GF pie - a neat trick I used last year. Can't wait to try this.