There’s something to be said for simplicity. That’s why most of my recipes have common ingredients and don’t call for fancy utensils.
I like to play with recipes and adjust them to my taste, or just try new things with them. However, when it comes to Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie, I (pretty much) leave everything to the old pros.
On top of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, greens, biscuits, etc., I really don’t have the time or desire to reinvent the wheel and come up with a new pumpkin pie recipe. I gave up trying to be Martha Stewart, well, pretty much the first time I saw her on the TV.
But I still had to make a pie because, Thanksgiving. I mostly followed the recipe on the back of the canned pumpkin can. Yes, I added my own little flair to it – a little vanilla, some extra spices and I was a bit heavy-handed on the cinnamon, but basically it was from the can.
I always say feel free to experiment and add what you like. But sometimes, when dessert is part of a bigger meal or bigger event there’s comfort in going with something that’s tried and true, whether it’s a recipe on the back of a can, or it’s one of my (or your own) recipes that you’ve made a few times and just like how it turns out. A big dinner party is probably not the time to experiment with something new, unless you have a backup ready if and when something doesn’t go right.
The holidays can be stressful enough – don’t add your own stress when you don’t have to. Read the can, have a glass of wine and remember why you’re going through all this work in the first place.
I DID decide to make a crust from scratch. It took a little time but it was really easy and the final result is a huge improvement over store-bought crust (though no judgement if you use one of those!).
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ t salt
- 1 cup butter – frozen
- ½ t vanilla
- ½ cup really cold (ice) water
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ t salt
- 1 ½ t cinnamon
- ½ t ginger
- ¼ t cloves
- ¼ t nutmeg
- ¼ t allspice
- 2 eggs
- 1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
- 2 t vanilla
- 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
Start with the crust (obviously), but start early – it needs time to chill.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Next, cut your butter into the flour mixture. What this means is to incorporate the butter so that it stays in evenly-distributed clumps in the mix. What this does is help make little layers of flakiness because, science.
There’s a kitchen utensil called a pastry cutter specifically designed for this. I do not have a pastry cutter. So instead, I froze the butter and then grated it into the flour mixture.
Then, take your hands and mix everything up so that the whole mixture is kind of coarse.
Add in the vanilla and the water, but stir in the water one Tablespoon at a time, and use just enough so that the mixture can form a ball (I ended up using a little less than a full half cup).
Cut the ball into two evenly sized balls, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 4 hours. I did mine the day before, so you can certainly have them cool overnight. You’ve now got enough dough for two pies, or one pie with a crust top (like apple pie).
When you’re ready to cook, take one of the balls out of the fridge and roll it flat so that it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Place the dough into a 9” pie plate and gently smooth it in so that it covers the bottom and sides of the plate. Crimp the edges with your thumb to give it that authentic pumpkin pie crust look.
On to the filling.
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk until they’re well combined.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs for about a minute, then put your mixer away and use a wooden spoon to stir in the pumpkin, vanilla and dry mixture. Finally, add in the evaporated milk and stir that in as well.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into your pie shell.
Bake the pie at 425 for about 35 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
Move to a wire rack and cool. If you don’t eat it that day, make sure to cover with foil and refrigerate.
By the way, I didn’t add it in the ingredients list but it goes without saying that this should be served with whipped cream. Don’t be a monster.