For Thanksgiving this year, I had a little bit of fun, seeing how hard it would be to bake a pumpkin pie from scratch. Our yearly visit to the Elegant Farmer yielded two perfectly-sized pumpkin pie pumpkins, which gave me the idea to give it a go.
The process was actually not difficult as much as it was putzy, but that's alright. There is a bit of fun in the putzy things of life, such as making espresso or what have you.
First, the pumpkins are halved, then the seeds and inner stringy stuff gets scraped out with a spoon. Next, I spread a thin layer of butter on a large flat pan (12 x 18) with 1/4 inch high edges, adding about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water to the pan. The halved pumpkins are placed onto the pan (adding the water simply keeps the pumpkin edges against the pan from burning).
I baked the 4 pumpkin halves for about 45 to 50 minutes, until I could tell the flesh was very soft by inserting a knife, then removed the pumpkins and left them on top of the stove to cool. As they cooled I sliced the halves into smaller pieces, preparing for their processing later.
Once the pieces of baked pumpkin were baked and cooled, I setup a hand-cranked food processor loaned to me by a friend on the kitchen table. This cool tool separates the heavy pulp, skins and stuff not fit for pie into one bowl, while the good stuff gets strained down a plastic corkscrew gear through a pumpkin strainer screen and into a second bowl.
My son helped crank while I fed and pressed the pumpkin chunks into the processor, until we cranked through both pumpkins. It was mussy and gurgly but loads of fun for both of us. :-)
Apparently pumpkins can be processed with a blender, though the skins must be manually separated from the pulp, then the pulp gets blended thoroughly. I may have to try that next year, just to see how easy it is to pull off.
Some of the final pulp was stored in a 16 oz sour cream container and put in the fridge, while I prepared a pumpkin pie to use the rest of the pulp. I made use of the convenient recipe from some solid pack pumpkin (store bought) for a simple recipe:
- 1 Unbaked Pastry shell
- 3 eggs slightly beaten
- 1 cup white or brown sugar (I prefer brown)
- 1/2 TSP Salt
- 1 TSP Cinnamon
- 1/4 TSP Cloves
- 1/4 TSP Ginger
- 1/4 TSP Nutmeg
- 16 oz Pumpkin pie filling
- 8 oz Evaporated milk
Prepare a one-crust pie shell. Combine the eggs, salt, sugar and spices in a bowl and beat well. Blend in the pumpkin pie filling. Add evaporated milk and beat well.
Turn into the one-crust pie shell and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes. You know the pie is done when you can insert a knife into the center of the pie and have it come out clean (no filling on the knife).
I've made this recipe with canned pumpkin filling and it's quite good, though fresh filling is even better. It has a bit better taste than the canned filling, in my opinion. But I truly love the spices the most: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger all rock! :-)
More than likely, canned pumpkin will do the trick for most of my future pumpkin pies, but it was still great experience to make a pie from pumpkins.