How to Make Pumpkin Pie

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Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without pumpkin pie. If you are on a budget, this might be the only desert you offer your Thanksgiving guests. The lightly spiced pumpkin pie presented here goes beautifully with many holiday meals.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Agnieszka Kirinicjanow 2012]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Agnieszka Kirinicjanow 2012

Basic pie crust

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours chilling time

Yield: 2 piecrusts, enough for one 9-inch deep-dish double-crust pie

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into large pieces

3 ounces (hefty 1/2 cup) chilled shortening

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

  1. Measure the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

  2. Cut the butter and shortening into tablespoon-sized pieces and scatter over the dry ingredients. Cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two butter knives until the fats are the size of flat raisins. Do not overwork or you’ll end up with a mealy crust.

  3. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture. Toss with two forks or your fingertips until the dough begins to come together.

  4. Scrape the dough onto a tabletop and knead briefly, just to bring the crust together into a ball. Divide into two pieces and press into flat disks. Wrap both in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight. This rest in the refrigerator is necessary to relax the protein, or gluten, in the dough.

  5. To roll out the dough, lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to apply pressure, starting at the center of the dough and rolling towards the top of the circle. Then pick up your pin, place it in the center of the dough, and roll towards the bottom. Do the same for the sides and all the in-between angles. Check to see that the dough remains free from sticking to the work surface by spinning in quarter turns. Keep rolling until the desired size and thickness is reached. A 1/4-inch thickness is standard, if no other thickness is specified.

  6. Spray a 9-inch glass deep-dish pie plate with pan coating.

  7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into the pie plate, making a high crimped edge. Freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make the filling.

It adds 15 minutes to your preparation time, but chilling the flour first goes a long way towards helping your crust come out the best it can be. Keeping the mixture cold while mixing is the name of the game and this is a good way to get the job done.

Per serving: Calories 363 (From fat 225); Total fat 25g (Saturated 12g); Cholesterol 39mg; Sodium 75mg; Carbohydrates 30g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 4g.

While your dough is chilling, you can start mixing the filling ingredients.

Filling and baking

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes; 2 1/2 hours chilling time

Yield: 8 servings

1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups evaporated milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch cloves

  1. Place your piecrust on a parchment-lined baking pan, line the crust with foil, add pie weights, and prebake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove the crust from the oven and leave the door open for about 3 minutes to quickly reduce the oven temperature. Reset the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Place all ingredients for the filling in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or blender and process for at least 2 minutes, until blended and very smooth. The mixture may be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.

  3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 50 minutes. The filling will be set, but should still be a little soft and wiggly in the center. It will firm up tremendously upon cooling.

  4. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. The pie can be made a day ahead, but it’s best made the day you plan to serve it.

If you try to cook your own pumpkin puree, it will be much more watery and much less smooth than the canned. Stick with the canned. Just make sure it’s pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which has spices and sugar and other ingredients that you don’t need.

Per serving: Calories 355 (From fat 153); Total fat 17g (Saturated 8g); Cholesterol 112mg; Sodium 186mg; Carbohydrates 43g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 8g.


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