Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lovin' From the Oven - Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

As you know from yesterday, I bought a pumpkin at the farmers' market last weekend. What I didn't mention was that it was the first pumpkin that I've ever had, well, with the intention of cooking (not carving) it.

But pumpkin pie is one of Dave's favorite and I was just waiting for the right time to ditch the frozen Pillsbury crust and the canned pumpkin pie filling and go for the gold - completely from scratch. Let's see how it went:

Prepping and Cooking the Pumpkin

After giving it a good washing, I cut the pumpkin in half with a large knife (be careful, this can be a bit tricky). Next, I scooped out the seeds and all the stringy things in the middle (an ice cream scoop worked out GREAT for this). Then, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees, placed the pumpkin halves face down on a jellyroll pan, and popped them in the oven for 45 minutes. Once the pumpkin is cooked, I let it cool on top of the stove for about an hour. So far, so good...

Making Pumpkin Puree

It turns out, when the pumpkin is cooked, the shell peels right off (with a little help from a paring knife). Once I made sure all the shell had been removed, I cut it into smaller pieces and dropped about a cup at a time into the blender (a food processor would probably do a better job, but I don't have one). I did my best to make a nice smooth consistency with the pumpkin, but I still ended up with a few little chunks, but I fixed that later in the process...

Making the Pie

I used the same pumpkin pie recipe (McCormick's recipe) that I always use and just substituted 2 cups of my homemade puree for the 15 oz of canned. Here's where I realized that my puree was much thinner than the stuff that comes out of the can. I was hoping this would work itself out with a little extra cooking time...

Knowing that there were a few pumpkin lumps still in the filling, I tried to use a strainer to filter it as I was pouring it into my shell (more on the shell in a moment). It turns out there were WAY too many lumps, so I just poured all the filling back in the blender and let it run for a few minutes (the mixer we have has a "liquefy" button, which is what I used). Ahh, finally, the filling was nice and smooth.

To be sure, I still poured the filling into the pie crust with that hand-held strainer between the two, but there were no lumps and the filling fit just perfectly into my pie crust, which also from scratch using this recipe (something else I'd never made from scratch before).

Baking the Pie

Ok, this was the tricky part. The recipe I usually use for making pumpkin pie calls for baking at 425 for 15 minutes and then dropping the temp to 350 for an additional 40 minutes. But my homemade puree was much thinner in consistency than the stuff that comes out of a can, so I really had to pay attention. I did the first 15 minutes at 425, then dropped the temp to 350 for an additional 40 minutes, then I checked it every 10 minutes there after for about another 30 minutes until I was sure it was done (when a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean).

From the start, I could see the crust was going to get too dark on the top, so I cut up some aluminum foil and wrapped it around the edges of the pan. This seemed to help. I'm pretty sure it would have been burned otherwise, since it was in the oven so much longer than usual.

Serving the Pie

Of course, this is Dave's favorite part (actually, eating it is his favorite) and what is pie without some fresh whipped cream? So I whipped up a container of organic heavy whipping cream into a light topping and voila! Homemade 100% from scratch pumpkin pie (using local eggs and pumpkin). The verdict? A big smile from the hubby with every last bite! Oh, and Kelsey approves of the whipped cream, too!

Pshew! Ok, so it took more than 3 hours and my kitchen looked like a war zone by the time I was done, but it was definitely worth it - a sweet success!

Any tips out there for making pie out of fresh pumpkin? Should I have cooked the filling before putting it in the crust to thicken it first?...

14 comments:

The Mom said...

Awesome job, Heather. When I do pumpkin puree, its always thinner as well. My solution is to line a colander with either paper towels or cheesecloth. When you pour the puree into the colander and let it set for a few minutes, enough of the excess water is removed, that you have the right consistency. Then I package it into 2 cup portions and freeze it for the next recipe.

Beany said...

I just a pumpkin too and Mr. beany also likes pie. So great timing here.

Green Bean said...

I do this quite a bit every fall and think that pumpkin pie can totally qualify as breakfast or lunch. :) Try recipe for butternut squash pie. I've made it with both butternut and pumpkin. It's wonderful.

Chris said...

I made my first pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend as well! I had the same issue with consistency, and I've heard the cheesecloth method is what we are looking for (thanks, "The Mom"!).
I would also like to know if anyone has any thoughts on picking out a good pumpkin... I've already selected my second victim, but I think my first was under-ripe. The pie had a great texture & spices flavor, but lacked the big pumpkin flavor & aromatics.
The second one I chose was a little bigger (but still a "pie" pumpkin) but has freckles -I'm hoping that translates to maturity of flavor.

Some photos from my first attempt:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2025203&id=1171126189&l=920995130a

I might go with a cheesecake for the next one.

Also, did you use Cloves or Allspice?
I used fresh-ground cloves, and I think they were too aromatic (perhaps because they were fresh). I've seen recipes with Allspice instead, and it seems like a "friendlier" contribution. Although, the cloves were very fragrant and pleasant coming out of the grinder.

Kelsie said...

My first entry on my woefully neglected blog is all about my from-scratch pumpkin pie. You might check it out. My secrets were fresh-ground cloves, ginger, and a bit of lemon zest.

Also, your puree will be thinner because it has a much higher water content. The absolute best way to take care of this is to put your puree in a colander and put the colander in another bowl. Let it sit overnight (I sometimes wait a full 24 hours) in the fridge. All of that water will drain off, and your puree should be much more substantial. :)

Heather @ SGF said...

The Mom - Thanks for the tip! I'll try that next time!

Beany - Seems to be a favorite, especially this time of year. It was pretty exciting to throw it all together from scratch and have a success the first time out. I was really concerned about making pie crust for the first time, but it was a piece of cake (or pie?)...

Green Bean - Thanks for the recipe link! Do you happen to have one for sweet potato pie? We have tons of sweet potatoes and I was thinking I'd give that a try too.

Chris - You know, that's a great question. How DO you pick out a pumpkin? A chef was helping me out at the farmers' market on Saturday. He told me to look for one that just has a little give, but for the life of me, they all felt the same...

As far as spices, I still have pumpkin pie spice in the cabinet, but when I don't, I use cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

Kelsie -Thanks! Draining definitely seems the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Great looking pie. My friend, who makes everything from scratch because she has celiac disease, told me that she leaves her puree in the fridge overnight and drains off the water that separates to make a thicker filling.

thank you for your post (I love your blog).

~kt

Krista said...

I don't have any new tips for making pumpkin pie, but I do want to add that the shell from the roasted pumpkin is divine in veggie-scrap-broth. Yum, yum, yum. I save all my veggie scraps in a bag in the freezer until I have a crock pot full, and then I make stock.

Heather @ SGF said...

kt - sounds like that's definitely the thing to do. I'm planning on buying a second pumpkin to roast this weekend. I'll try out the draining method overnight and let everyone know.

Glad you're enjoying the blog! :)

Krista - Oh, cool! I would never had thought of that. Great tip!

Beany said...

Did you freeze the rest of your pumpkin puree? Apparently the USDA doesn't recommend canning puree because the heat doesn't go all the way through to the middle. I'm going to make this pie later, but I used some of the puree to make pumpkin pancakes with ginger cranberry sauce. So very yummy and fall like.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - Those pancakes look awesome! Yep, I froze the puree. I don't see why you couldn't can it though. Someone at the farmers' market this morning said she cans hers. Why would it be different from canning anything else??? I don't get it.

Heather said...

I absolutely hate using pumpkin from a can, it tastes much different from fresh. I usually just mash the pumpkin like mashed potatoes, rather than making a puree, this makes the filling a little thicker. Either way if you let the pumpkin sit for a while the water will start to separate and can just be poured off.

Heather @ SGF said...

Heather - you know, I never knew the difference until now. I've always enjoyed pumpkin/spice flavored breads and muffins, but never pie. I just loved the taste of this pie. And yesterday, I used my last 2 cans of canned pumpkin (to get them out of the pantry) and tasted the pumpkin. Blah! Compared to the stuff I made, it's nasty! No more canned for us. Just homemade puree from now on!

I'll be making some puree tomorrow to freeze, in fact, and I'm going to let it drain. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Heather @ SGF said...

The overnight straining of the puree worked great everyone! I just measured up three two-cup servings into some tupperware containers and popped them in the fridge