In a normal year, I would make a pumpkin pie with a can of pumpkin and call it a day. There would be a whole long list of dishes to make, and because we usually have twenty-something extended family members for Thanksgiving, we make a LOT of everything, too. (2 turkeys!) But since we’re just doing Thanksgiving with my immediate family this year, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make a pumpkin pie ‘from scratch” and to share the recipe, in case it’s something you might be interested in trying, too!
This recipe is definitely a project, and between preparing and roasting the pumpkin, making pie crust. and pureeing the pumpkin, it’s not for the faint of heart. But none of the steps is difficult, and much of the time required for this recipe is “hands-off,” so you can work on side dishes, set the table, or just watch some tv while you wait. Having made this pie many times as I worked on the recipe, I can confidently say that a pumpkin pie made with the canned stuff truly cannot hold a candle to one made with a pie pumpkin, and here’s why.
Canned pumpkin puree is made from pumpkin that has been steamed. It contains a lot of moisture and not a ton of flavor. In this recipe, I toss wedges of pumpkin with olive oil and maple syrup and roast them until they’re tender and caramelized all over. The resulting pumpkin puree has SO much more flavor. Think about the difference between a piece of steamed cauliflower and a piece of roasted cauliflower. Wouldn’t you rather have the roasted one? Roasting the pumpkin intensifies its earthy sweetness, lowers the water content, and leads to a pie with greater depth of flavor. Sign me up.
Now, you can’t just use any old pumpkin for this recipe. A big jack-o’-lantern is not what what you want. Well technically you could use one, but the flesh is stringy and bland and will not give you the deliciously sweet, silky smooth puree we are looking for here. Instead, you’ll want to look for a pie pumpkin. Usually somewhere from 2 to 5 pounds, some varieties of pie pumpkins look like mini jack-o’-lantern pumpkins but (hopefully) are sold with the other winter squash, not the autumnal decor. There are lots of different varieties of pie pumpkin – the most common being the sugar pumpkin and Long Island cheese pumpkin. Here’s an article I found with a more extensive list. If you can’t find any of those, you can make this recipe with other fall squashes too – butternut, honeynut, or kabocha are all good choices. Just stay away from acorn or spaghetti; their flesh is too stringy.
One little bonus you get from roasting your own pumpkin is the delicious seeds. Roasting the seeds was always my my favorite part of carving pumpkins, so I had to make good use of them for this recipe. My friend Allie’s complaint about pumpkin pie is that it’s all one texture, so I thought, why not add some crunchy, maple-roasted seeds as a little garnish? You certainly don’t have to make these seeds, and the pie is great without them, but I do love the salty-sweet crunch they add, and they look great on the top of the pie, too. (And you’ve already got the oven on, so why not!)
Now that you’ve got your pumpkin, a quick interlude on pie crust. I know pie crust can be intimidating to make, so I wanted to share a few tips that have really helped me improve my crust game.
First, cube your butter and then put it on a little plate in the freezer while you measure out your dry ingredients. Colder butter holds it shape better as it gets worked into the flour, and we want to end up with little flecks of butter in the dough.
On that note, many pie dough recipes call for the butter to be cut into the flour until it’s the size of peas. I find that slightly larger pieces of butter- say, kidney bean-sized pieces, is a safer bet if you are worried about overworking your pie crust.
Finally, give your pie dough a rest! Two rests, actually. One after you form the dough into a ball, and the second after you’re rolled out the crust, laid it in the pie pan, and crimped the edges. This will prevent the pie dough from shrinking down the sides of the pan, will help your crimping keep its shape, and will make sure the crust is nice and cold when it goes into the oven, which is important for achieving a tender, flaky crust.
Are you still with me? Is your pumpkin roasted and your crust par-baked? Ok great! All that’s left is the filling. I use heavy cream instead of evaporated milk, which makes for a richer, creamier pie. All the traditional pumpkin pie spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves – are here, plus a pinch of black pepper. I can’t remember where I stumbled across this idea, but the addition of black pepper adds a little bit of a savory dimension and warming heat to the spice mix. More maple syrup, some eggs, brown sugar, and the pureed pumpkin, and you’re ready to go!
Just one note about knowing when your pie is ready and again, I’m sharing this after lots of trial and error with perfecting this recipe. You want the edges of the pie to be completely set, but when you move the pie dish, the center should jiggle a little bit. It shouldn’t look “soupy” in the center, but it shouldn’t be as set as the edges. The pie will set up as it cools, and then chills. The key to a really tender, creamy pie is not to over-bake it.
Hopefully I haven’t scared you away from trying this recipe! It’s a really rewarding one and in my humble opinion, well worth the time and effort! And I will be so excited to see who decides they are up to the challenge this Thanksgiving! If you have any questions, comment below and I will answer as quickly as I can. And whatever you’re making and baking this Thanksgiving, have a happy and healthy holiday!!
Maple Roasted Pumpkin Pie
For the crust:
- 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced (1¼ sticks)
- ⅓ cup ice water
For the filling:
- 1 medium (3½ to 4 pound) pie pumpkin, such as a sugar, Cinderella, or Long Island cheese pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- First, make the crust. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is cut into roughly dime-sized pieces. With the processor running, gradually add the water and process until the dough just begins to come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board, form into a round, then wrap with plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prep your pumpkin: Make vertical cuts around the stem and remove it as you would for a jack-o'-lantern. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, remove the seeds and pulp. Save the seeds for the optional maple-roasted pumpkin seeds, or discard. Slice the pumpkin halves into wedges about 1½-inches thick and place them on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, and a pinch of salt and toss well. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, turning the wedges halfway through, until very tender when pierced with a fork. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough into a circle about ¼-inch thick, turning and flouring the dough often to keep it from sticking. Carefully transfer to a 9-inch or 9.5-inch pie plate and lightly press the crust into the sides of the plate. Trim the edges, leaving about ½-inch of overhang. Fold the excess dough underneath at the edges and crimp the pie dough using your fingers or the tines of a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper, prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the crust is a pale gold color. Set aside to cool slightly and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Make the filling: scoop the cooked pumpkin flesh into a bowl, discarding the skins. Measure out 2 cups (packed) or 15 ounces pumpkin, saving any extra for another use. (Pumpkin pie oatmeal?!) Combine the pumpkin and milk in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Transfer the puree to a large bowl. Add the cream, eggs, brown sugar, remaining 3 tablespoons maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour the filling into the par-baked pie crust. (If you are using a 9-inch pie plate, you may have a small amount of filling leftover.) Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the pie is completely set around the edges but still has a slight jiggle in the center. Cool completely and serve chilled or at room temperature, topped with lots of whipped cream and maple-roasted pumpkin seeds, if using. Note: To make the optional maple-roasted pumpkin seeds, wash the seeds, picking out any pieces of stringy pumpkin flesh, and set them on a paper towel to dry. Transfer the seeds to a sheet pan, toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons maple syrup, and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then toss and continue to roast in 5 minute increments, tossing between, until the seeds are toasted and golden brown. Transfer to a dish to cool. Copyright 2020, Lidey Heuck, All Rights Reserved