Here we are – the weather has changed, a crisp air hangs in the sky and Thanksgiving is tomorrow! It’s a holiday that swings open the arms of home to invite in everyone that can fit at the table. We gorge ourselves to the brim with chat and turkey with all the trimmings until we can’t possibly fit another bite… but then comes the pie.
Pumpkin pie is one of those sacred American dishes – you simply must have it on Thanksgiving. No ifs, ands or buts about it!
The culinary rules say that since dessert is the last thing to cross our pallets, it had better be impressive, with flavour that beats out everything you’ve eaten thus far in the meal. Never to be an afterthought, I have added a vanilla pod to the mix to ramp up the warming aromatics that make this pie utterly deserving of centre stage. I think this Vanilla Pumpkin Pie is just the ticket to round out the most generous of holidays.
VANILLA PUMPKIN PIE
One Quantity Basic Pie Crust (See my post on Short Crust and follow directions for Basic Pie Crust)
425g solid pack pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
250ml double cream (or a combination of double cream and evaporated milk)
180g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla pod, seeds stripped for use
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
First thing, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f.
Pumpkin pie is terribly easy because all you do is mix your spices and vanilla seeds together with your sugar in a bowl, stir in the pumpkin, then stir in lightly beaten eggs and leave it to infuse while you make the pastry. Try not to incorporate too much air as you want zero bubbles with any baked custard (yes, that is what this technically is). Don’t throw away that vanilla pod case, by the way! Put it in a jar of sugar and use this in whatever you like – it’s great in pancakes, cakes, cookies, even a cup of coffee.
Cover the pumpkin mixture and pop it in the fridge to infuse while you sort out your pastry for the pie crust.
Roll out chilled short crust pastry and line a fluted 28cm pie tin. Pop it in the freezer for 15mins to relax and chill. Or if you, like me, have zero room for anything in your freezer (not even ice), pop it in the fridge for 20mins. It should be completely firm when it comes out. Keep the scraps of dough for patching after blind baking.
After chilling the pastry until firm, line it with a round of crumpled parchment paper big enough to hang over the edges once filled with baking beans. Push the paper into the corners well and fill with baking beans to the rim. Blind bake the pastry at 200°c/400°f for 15 minutes or until the sides are set up. Then remove the beans with a large spoon and the cartouche and bake for another 5-10 minutes until lightly golden with no grey patches of raw pastry left behind. You want a nice crisp bottom to your pie. If the pastry has ballooned up, use the back of a metal dessert spoon to gently rub the pastry until it settles. If the pastry isn’t cooperating, you can also pierce the pastry with a fork in the center of the bottom, which will let the steam escape and allow you to do the spoon trick. Lower the temperature of your oven to 160°c/325°f.
Now patch up any cracks with scraps from the raw pastry and pour in the pumpkin mixture until it is full as you can make it without slopping over. As this is a sort of custard, you don’t need to worry about it rising, so leave about a half cm or a quarter inch of pastry at the top. Bake this for 40-50 minutes until the center of the filling moves only slightly when jiggled but isn’t liquid at all. Allow it to cool completely to room temperature. If serving the next day keep it in the fridge over night and take out a couple hours before serving for it to come up to room temperature. I often pop my pumpkin pie in the oven for 5-10 minutes just before serving to crisp the pastry again and take the chill off.
Serve with a generous dollop of vanilla whipped cream.
Recipe adapted from Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie.