Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie

I hope everyone had a yummy Thanksgiving.  If you're anything like me, you've had more than your fill of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, of course, lots and lots of pie.  After one "Friendsgiving" here in DC, Thanksgiving in Connecticut, and one more "Friendsgiving" to go (which I get to host!), I'll have, in total, made this pie four times this year.  
CT Thanksgiving
And it's worth it every time!  This is no normal pumpkin pie.  This is the pumpkin pie that people who don't even like pumpkin pie will ask you to make over and over again.  This pie totes not just pumpkin, but candied yams.  Maple syrup, fresh ginger, and lots of cream combine for the perfect flavor combination that hint of cold weather, falling leaves, and, dare I say it, snow. 

My favorite way to make silky smooth pumpkin pie is from scratch.  As in, from a real pumpkin!  I'm just waiting for the day when I no longer live in a tiny studio apartment and have a yard in which to grow pumpkins.  Then this will really be from scratch.  Until then, Whole Foods will have to suffice.  (And when I'm crunched for time, canned pumpkin always works too.)  Make sure you get a sugar pumpkin.  Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Save them for roasting later! Bake on a greased cookie sheet, cut side down, in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until they give way easily to a fork stuck through the skin.  

Once baked through, let the pumpkin cool just enough so that you can touch it.  Scoop the pulp out with a spoon and mash with a potato masher (or run through a food processor).  

Next, make the crust.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and salt.  Slice the butter into pieces and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Make sure the butter is COLD!  It's also important to leave small bits of butter in the flour - this will help the crust be flaky.  All of this can be done in a food processor if you prefer.

Working in sections, gently mix in ice water with a fork until it forms a ball of dough.  Try not to overwork the dough.  On a well floured surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin to form a circle large enough for your pie pan.

Transfer to pie pan, trim any excess from the edges, and fold the edges under.  Using your thumb and forefingers, crimp the edges.

Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.  Remove from fridge, line with foil, and fill with pie weights (Who really has pie weights though?  Coins work just as well.  Multi-purpose laundry quarters!) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until golden brown.  

Next, make the filling.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and egg yolks.  Whisk in the half & half and vanilla and set aside. 

In a large saucepan, mix together the pumpkin, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  I mash the yams with a fork before adding them.  Stirring frequently, bring to a sputtering boil over medium-high heat.  And by sputtering, I really mean bubbly!  Don't be shy about getting this concoction to really boil.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and shiny, about 15 minutes.

Once the pumpkin mixture is cooked, whisk in the cream mixture until combined.

Next, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  This seems tedious at first, but this is where the silky aspect of the pie comes in.  It's a little more work, but TOTALLY worth it!  

Once strained, re-whisk filling and pour into pre-baked crust.  Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Turn oven down to 300 degrees and bake for 20-35 minutes longer, or until the edges are set.  

Here's one of the tricks to this pie: the center doesn't have to be set when you take it out of the oven, only the edges.  The pie continues to cook from the residual heat, so it's important to let it cool at room temperature for several hours.  I'd recommend 4-5 hours, but you can get away with fewer if you have to.

Serve with whipped cream and prepare yourself for the requests to make this pie for your friends to start pouring in!

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie
Filling recipe from, where it was adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Crust recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

Makes one 8" or 9" pie.

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup COLD butter
4-6 Tablespoons cold water

2 cups half and half (or 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk)
3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pumpkin puree* (or 1 15-ounce can) 
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

For the Pumpkin Puree

Bake a sugar (pie) pumpkin:
  • Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds
  • Bake cut side down on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork can be stuck through the pumpkin easily
  • Cool slightly, then scoop out pulp 
  • Mash pulp with a potato masher or run though a food processor until smooth
For the Crust
  • Mix together flour and salt in large mixing bowl
  • With a pastry blender, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs (leaving clumps of butter)
  • Add 3 Tablespoons cold water and mix gently
  • One Tablespoon at a time, mix in additional cold water until the dough is moistened and forms a ball
  • On a well floured surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin to form a circle big enough to fit into pie pan
  • Transfer to pie pan, trim the edges, fold extra dough under, and crimp the edges with thumb and forefingers or a fork
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes
  • Remove dough from refrigerator, line with foil, and fill with pie weights (or coins)
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for 10 more minutes, or until golden brown
For the Filling
  • In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks.  Whisk in half and half (or cream and milk) and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, mix together pumpkin, yams (mash with a fork prior to adding), sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  
  • Cook over medium heat until it comes to a sputtering boil, stirring frequently.
  • Continue to simmer, stirring constantly, for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and shiny.
  • Remove from heat and stir in egg mixture.
  • Pour combined mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Re-mix strained mixture and pour into pre-baked pie crust.
  • Bake pie on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for 20-35 minutes longer, until edges are set.
  • Cool at room temperature for several hours (pie continues to bake and sets as it cools).
  • Serve with fresh whipped cream.

1 comment:

ruthpclark said...

Uh, Yum! Now I want more.

And love the new header!

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