As soon as pumpkins hit the farmers markets last month, I started thinking about pie and how I’d like to try my hand at making my own pumpkin puree. The instructions seemed simple enough but I wondered if it was worth the effort, since there are plenty of high quality brands of organic canned pumpkin on the market. But when we were at Lyman Orchards a couple of weeks ago for Apple Picking Extravaganza they had a whole field of sugar pumpkins, exactly the kind I needed for baking. I bought three little ones and took them back to New York with me, where they’ve been sitting on my table along with the rest of my fall produce.
Yesterday, I had a totally free Sunday, the best kind for weekend baking. With an afternoon ahead of me, I decided the time had come to turn my pumpkins into pie. There are a couple of different ways to make fresh pumpkin puree—you can either roast the pumpkin or peel it, cut it into pieces and boil it. I tried both methods and roasting is definitely the easier option. It takes a little longer for the pumpkins to soften enough to be scooped out, but you save time and effort on the back end because all you have to do is slice the pumpkin lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place it cut side down on a greased baking sheet, and then roast it at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. (Save those seeds for toasting later on!) Peeling and chopping the pumpkin for the boiling method was kind of annoying. OK, really annoying. I started with that method and was tempted to throw in the towel until roasting the pumpkins proved much more efficient.
I had read that fresh pumpkin can be a bit watery so after I pureed the pumpkin pulp in my mini food processor, I lined a strainer with coffee filters and let it drain until cool. Now I was ready to make my pie.
A quick Internet search found that many pumpkin pies called for a pate brisee crust, which is a simple buttery pie dough. If you have a 9-14 cup food processor make it in there, although I used my mini food processor and it fit just fine. I just stopped it a few times when it came time to drizzle in the water since it doesn’t have a food tube. Here is the recipe I used from Joy of Baking:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
In a food processor, place the flour, salt and sugar and process until combines. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds.) Pour 1/8 cup water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 secounds. Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatter into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using.
Once the dough had been rolled out, I flattened it into the pie dish and let it chill, covered in plastic wrap, for another 20 minutes in the fridge. I then made the pumpkin filling, also from Joy of Baking:
3 large eggs
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or one 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and bake for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees or until the filling is set and the crust has browned. The center will still look wet but a knife insered about one inch from the side of the pan should come out almost clean.
Here is the finished product: