It doesn’t get much more American than homemade pumpkin pie. I had my first bite of pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving in 2008 and it’s been one of my personal favorites ever since. There’s something a little extra special about when someone has gone through the effort of homemaking everything from the crust to the pumpkin puree and the rest of the pie filling. Give your family and friends that sense of importance this thanksgiving.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
To make the base of the pie filling you have to first peel and dice your pumpkin. First cut off the top and bottom so it has a flat surface to rest on then use a sharp knife to peel the skin off the pumpkin. Half the peeled pumpkin then use a melon baller or large spoon to pull out the pulp and seeds. Diced the pumpkin into 1/4 in cubes.
The type of pumpkin you use matters. Some are more stringy and watery and therefore have less flavor. When you’re looking to buy a pumpkin at you’ll likely see them labeled as ‘sweet pumpkins’ or ‘cooking pumpkins’. Some more specific names are baby pams, lumina (which are white), autumn gold, and new England pie pumpkin.
Take into account the size of the pumpkin. Cooking pumpkins are generally small compared to ones you would carve, but they can still weigh up to 15 pounds (based on the kind of pumpkin). A pumpkin that weighs between 4 and 6 pounds will give you enough puree for upwards of 3 very large pies.
There are two ways you can soften pumpkin for mashing. You can boil the cubes or you can steam them. Steaming is better because you don’t lose any nutrients to water and retain all the pumpkin flavor. You can steam a number of ways like steamers or steamer baskets, but it’s easy to make your own DIY steamer using common kitchen equipment. That being said the easiest method is still boiling and it makes a perfectly usable pumpkin puree.
Once the pumpkin is tender enough to easily mash with a fork, strain it and transfer it to a bowl to mash it using an electric mixer. Once mashed, if you’re not using the puree right away, transfer it to a jar and store it in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days. The puree will also hold in the freezer for up to a few months.
How to Make Pumpkin Pie Filling
‘Pumpkin pie spice’ is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. You can use all five or opt for the ones you prefer. To premake the spice combine 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon of cloves and allspice.
Brown sugar caramelizes much more readily than refined sugar and adds more depth to your pumpkin pie. Whether you use dark or light brown sugar is down to preference. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses which adds more moisture and acidity as well as deeper caramel tones.
Combine 15 ounces of pumpkin puree with ½ a cup of condensed milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, ¾ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, and the spices. Make sure there are no lumps before pouring the filling into a pie crust and baking it in a 350°F oven for around 40 minutes.
Keep an eye on the pie while it bakes to make sure it doesn’t get too brown on the top. Should it get too brown ln the surface of the filling, carefully take it out of the oven and cover it with foil. Be careful not to touch the foil onto the filling or it will stick and break a beautiful even surface. Once the center of the pie is set, turn off the oven and leave the pie to cool in there for at least an hour to prevent cracking.
425g/15 oz pumpkin puree
153g/½ cup condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g/¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
3 free-range eggs
1 blind-baked pie crust
- Preheat your oven to 350°F
- Combine the pumpkin puree, condensed milk, vanilla extract, brown sugar, flour, sea salt, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg.
- Beat in 3 eggs one after the other until smooth.
- Pour the filling into the blind-baked pie crust and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
- If the top begins to brown before the center is set tent the pie in foil and finish baking.
- Once the center is set turn off the oven then cool the pie in the oven for an hour before serving.