Here’s How to Achieve Pumpkin Pie Excellence
I don’t own a pie pan. Not a single one. I’ve contemplated buying one on many occasions, but then I always get hung up. Do I want glass? Seems like the right choice, it would give me a window to the pie crust to make sure it browns correctly. But ceramic is so much prettier, but usually more expensive. Which leads us to metal, which is an affordable option, and a great heat conductor, but certainly not the prettiest option. And if it’s not going to look pretty, why do I need to buy a new one anyway?
Round and round I go in my head until I give up and end up in the baking aisle at the grocery store buying another foil pie tin.
Embarrassing. Right? A baker without pie plates. I should be ashamed.
So, after years and years of being pumpkin pie-free, I had to give in. It is, after all, BF’s favorite pie. It seemed only right..
This masterpiece is a far cry from the one you get from that can of “pumpkin pie filling” that you pick up at the store. The pie features a sweet, pumpkiny custard nestled in a tender, flaky crust. Created and perfected by the geniuses over at Cooks Illustrated, this recipe has a “secret” ingredient (sweet potatoes) that somehow (I can only assume with magic) results in a pie with a more complex flavor.
So, prepare yourself for the smoothest, creamiest pumpkin pie your tastebuds have ever had the pleasure of encountering. It’s like a creamy, Thanksgiving hug for your mouth… and your tummy.
Despite being “perfected” in the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens, I provided a few modifications. First, I would recommend a medium-mesh sieve, as I think my “fine-mesh” was a bit too fine (granted it’s “double mesh”), causing my to arm cramp up while I desperately tried to press the mixture through.
Also, I assume due to my tiny foil pie plate, only half of the filling fit into the pie crust, which means that TECHNICALLY you could get two pumpkin pies out of this recipe, or you could use a deep dish pie plate for a nice custardy pumpkin pie. I took a “two is better than one” stance on the issue and decided it meant I had one pie for me and one pie for the family.
Oh, and a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream never hurt anyone.
Cook’s Illustrated Pumpkin Pie Cook’s Illustrated, December 2008
[ Printable Recipe ]
- Your favorite pie crust (home-made or store-bought, I won’t tell)
- 2 cups half and half
- 3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (I could only find sweet potatoes, I know technically they’re different)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon table salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
While oven is preheating, roll pie dough to 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick and press into pie plate, crimping the edge when finished. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until firm.
Now you are going to “blind bake” your pie crust. To do this, you will want to prick holes in the bottom with a fork, then line the inside of the crust with foil. Fill the foil with pie weights of your choice (I used coins, because I don’t own real pie weights. That would just be silly since I don’t even own a pie plate! If you feel silly filling your pie with pennies, you can use pie weights or uncooked beans or rice). Bake crust on rimmed baking sheet for 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, rotate plate and bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.
While pie shell is baking, whisk half and half, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re not satisfied with your mashing abilities (as I was not) feel free to puree your pumpkin mixture with a blender stick. I don’t care if it’s cheating, I still couldn’t smoosh it through my stupid sieve, so good luck if you’re relying on your “mashing” abilities.
I know this recipe has been “perfected”, but I don’t ever stir anything with raw eggs directly into something hot. So I first whisked a cup or so of the heated pumpkin into the egg/cream mixture, and then poured all of that back into the pumpkin pan and whisked until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine (OR MEDIUM)-mesh strainer set over a large bowl, using the back of a ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer.
Re-whisk mixture and transfer to your warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate (now filled with custard) still on the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges are set 20 to 35 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. The pie will finish cooking with resident heat, so be sure to cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. Once cooled, you can transfer it to the refrigerator.
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Whip cream with cold bowl and cold beaters until it gets bubbly. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and continue beating to desired consistency, voila. (If you want to whip your cream even faster, make it with an immersion blender. You’ll never go back to whisks again)
[ Pie recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen whose cookbook recently debuted ]
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