Last year, some years after making my first pumpkin puree for a risotto in a restaurant where I worked, I poked around the internet looking for a fresh pumpkin pie recipe and saw them to be few and far between.
Most people, it seems, actually prefer canned pumpkin.
The reason for why is pretty easy to deduce with a little bit of critical thinking and applied reason. Roasting, pureeing, and straining an entire pumpkin to create a puree that then still needs to be lightly cooked and caramelized goes against the convenience-oriented ways of a fast-paced modern lifestyle.
What’s best about this homemade pumpkin pie is how it’s broken down into easy steps so you can tackle each step at a time (as you have time over multiple days) or all at once in a full-day pumpkin processing and baking extravaganza.
While it might seem intimidating, the process of processing pumpkin yields a puree that can be used all season long in scones, risottos, pies, breads, cookies, soups, and any number of other delicious recipes both sweet and savory. Freezing off your pumpkin puree for later use is also recommended.
It’s now part of our Halloween/Samhain tradition to choose our pumpkins with pie in mind. I like the large white pumpkins as they have an earthy, squashy taste that bakes up and flavors well with our simple healthy chicken stock. Other varieties we’ve tried are the orange sugar pumpkins, your typical autumn golds, and the blue Jarrahdale. The white pumpkin is probably least sweet, but I use it for purees because it adds well to savory recipes. While it sweetens up well, its much more difficult to sweeten down an already sweet pumpkin.
The most important part of this recipe is caramelizing the puree and seasoning it. Caramelizing the puree also serves to eliminate moisture from the fresh pumpkin, which is often the part of the process people who are new to pumpkin may forget. If you add raw puree to your pie mix, the moisture will create a soggy crust and a cracked end product that takes hours in the oven. After caramelization, the puree can be cooled and frozen for use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
This recipe includes a basic pumpkin spice with a small bit of added warmth and heat. I enjoy adding cayenne pepper, white pepper, and tumeric as well, although said spices can have a way of becoming overpowering quickly so use sparingly if you decide to squeeze that opportunity. For most people, a tried-and-true pumpkin spice with a dollop of whipped cream topping heralds in the fall season with all joy and enthusiasm.
We experimented and experimented to come up with this foolproof, fresh pumpkin, pumpkin pie recipe so that even the least confident of bakers can feel confident in the result. It’s our pleasure to introduce the Real Pumpkin, From-Scratch, Foolproof, Homemade Pumpkin Pie.
I like to use a glass, Pyrex pie dish for this recipe, but a pie tin will work just as well and will likely decrease cook time. Just remember to keep an eye on it, and adjust temperature as necessary for tin instructions.
For mixing the pie crust, a food processor is best, but lacking one of these, a pastry cutter or two bench scrapers will work. Lacking those, small dice butter and shortening and return to fridge or freezer until cold—not frozen—then whisk. If you need a food processor, these are the ones we use:
A rolling pin is a must for a good pie crust. Lacking this, one can resort to goo-gone taken to an old wine bottle, or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, although I find this to be unreliable due to the curve of the wine bottle towards the neck. One side of the crust is always a bit paunchy and the edges are uneven (though no less tasty). Another go-to might be a dowel bought from a hardware store, just make sure it’s untreated and non-toxic—although a hardware store is as likely to have a rolling pin. Honestly, we recommend the rolling pin.
Stand Mixer: Kitchen Aide
A stand mixer is a necessary piece of equipment in any kitchen and one that joined ours like a member of the family. This and a food processor dramatically changed what we were capable of cooking for ourselves at home. With the holidays approaching, we highly recommend the tried and true Kitchen Aide Classic.
1: Roast Pumpkin & remove seeds to dry for roasting later.
2: Make Pie shells and freeze (see Scratch Pie Shell included below)
4: Season and caramelize puree. Put all your puree in a sauté or sauce pan and season, simmering on very low until pumpkin puree begins to pull away from the pan, demonstrating a lack of moisture. Another way to tell your puree is finished is based on the color. It should look a few shades darker than your fresh pumpkin, a little more like pumpkin pie.
5: Preheat oven 350F
6: Cover the edges of your pie shell with foil and thaw or see step 7.
7: Parbake frozen pie shell for fifteen minutes at 375F, or bake thawed shell for five minutes at 350F with foil over top edges in both instances.
8: Make pie filling. Mix all ingredients for pie filling together in stand mixer or, if not using a stand mixer, whisk eggs, sugar, condensed milk, and salt first, folding in the puree afterwards.
9: fill pie.
10: Bake at 350 F 45 mins to an hour.
11: Remove foil. Add egg wash if desired.
12: Bake for another 10 minutes-15 minutes or until crust is browned.
13: Remove and cool for at least thirty minutes before putting in fridge or serving. You can let it set for 2 hours in the fridge, but we often can’t help but dig in before that step is finished, as evidenced by a lack of a picture of an entire pie.
14: Serve with homemade whipped cream.
Pie Filling Ingredients
- 2 cups cooked pumpkin puree, seasoned and cooled
- 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger (freshly ground if possible)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 unbaked pie crust Or try our Scratch Pie Shell recipe included below.
Scratch Pie Shell: (this recipe is adapted from a version of a pie crust published in Baker’s Illustrated Cookbook, 2004 edition).
Note: Butter and shortening must be kept COLD
Added Note: This recipe doubles up nicely.
- 11/2 sticks butter
- ½ cup shortening
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tb sugar
- 21/2 cups flour (plus some for dusting)
- 8 tb ice water (or more as necessary
- ½-¾ cup graham cracker.
Put glass pie dish in fridge.
Small dice butter and shortening. Return to fridge to cool. The freezer is fine too, just make sure not to freeze the butter through.
Mix cold, cubed butter and shortening with sugar, salt, slowly adding in 2 cups flour, then ice water a couple of tablespoons at a time.
Dust rolling surface and roll out dough. Fold back on itself and roll out a few times to laminate. Add dusting of flower as necessary. Try to be sparing.
Crush graham cracker with rolling pin.
Remove cold pie dish and line with graham.
Roll pie crust onto pin, then roll the dough onto the Pyrex dish on top of your graham cracker. Form to dish. Pierce the bottom with a fork and use tines to mark the edges of your crust if desired. The back of a spoon works nicely too.
Return pie crust to fridge or freeze for later.
Mix all ingredients for pie filling together in stand mixer or, if not using a stand mixer, whisk eggs, sugar, condensed milk, and salt first, folding in the puree afterwards.
Add mix to pie par-baked pie crust (see step seven above).