For me, living with a two year old and a six year means that everyday I am negotiating between my wants and needs, and those of two wild creatures whose desires have no correlation to my exhaustion level or ability to actually fulfill them. It is the joy and challenge of parenting, especially as a working parent. This food project was one such event. A few weeks ago I took the kids on an after-school excursion to a little farm stand that had mums and pumpkins. I had just launched my new menu at work, and was in need of a recreational minute. The kids each picked out a pumpkin and my 6 year old (who has spent enough time with me in the kitchen to know that everything we do, some how comes back to food) instantly said, "mommy, can we make pumpkin pie?!" so a sugar pumpkin was purchased for a few bucks, and we headed home, illusions of fresh pumpkin pie fueling our ride back.
Now, I can't tell you exactly how many days it took me to actually turn this pumpkin into a pie, but let's just say, that by the time we made it, my boy had stopped asking, "mommy, when are we going to make the pumpkin pie". Life is busy, and as much as I'd love to just stop everything and make pumpkin pie, well, you know, it just isn't that simple.
So, finally, over the weekend we cut open the pumpkin, and brought it outside for the kids to clean out. I roasted it in the oven and scooped out the soft flesh. A few days later I managed to make some pie dough and put it in the fridge, and the next day, we actually got the pie in the oven. It was devoured for breakfast, dinner and dessert and gone in about 1 1/2 days. The fresh sweet pumpkin made a delectable custardy pie, very unlike the dense grocery store bought cousins or the pumpkin from a can versions. All in all, the effort of making a fresh pumpkin pie, spread out over a bunch of afternoons was actually totally worth it.
Fresh Sugar Pumpkin Pie
One 9-inch pie
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup white flour plus 1/4 cup or more whole wheat flour or wheat germ)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 teaspoon vinegar (white or cider)
1 small sugar pumpkin (about 7 inches in diameter) equaling: 2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup heavy cream, milk or soy milk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or clove
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1. Make the pie dough: Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. measure and sift all of the dry ingredients. In a mixer, food processor or using two forks, cut the butter into the dough until it is the size of larger peas. Some larger sized piece of butter are good, just pinch them flat. Add the ice water and vinegar and mix dough till combined, dough should be tacky. If dough is too dry, add spoonful more water. It is better for the dough to be a little too wet, than too dry. gently form the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour or longer until well chilled.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie dish and trim the overhang to 3/4 inch; fold the overhang under itself and crimp decoratively. Prick the bottom of the pie shell all over and refrigerate until firm.
3. Line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edge. Remove the foil and the weights and bake for about 12 minutes longer, or until the pie shell is golden brown and cooked on the bottom. Cover the rim of the pie shell with foil when it starts to brown. Leave the oven on.
4. Make pie filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Rub with a few drops of oil and place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment. Pour 1/2 cup of water on the pan to help it steam a bit while it roasts. Bake for 45 minutes or longer until the flesh is very tender. Mash with a fork, a ricer until smooth. If you want a very smooth filling you can prepare the rest of this recipe in a blender or food processor, for a more textured filling mix by hand. Scoop 2 cups of the pumpkin flesh into a bowl and let cool, reserve the rest for another purpose (like soup). Whisk in the cream, brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and scrape into the prepared pie shell.
5. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 375°. Turn the oven down to 350° and continue to bake for about 40 minutes longer, or until the filling is set. If the crust edge starts to brown too much, cover with the edge with foil. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with yogurt or whipped cream.
Note: If you like sweet potato pie, you can use this same recipe and substitute, 3 pounds of baked, mashed sweet potatoes for the pumpkin.
To make ahead
The unbaked pie shell can be frozen for up to 1 week. The pumpkin can be baked and refrigerated for two days.
please share any great pie recipes you have!