My daughter, Laina, has been making the pumpkin pies for our extended family’s Thanksgiving dinner for the last three years. She started making them when she was 16-years old. The tricky part about her pie making is that she doesn’t open a can of pumpkin puree to make them; she actually cooks the pumpkins and purees them herself. She does take a shortcut and uses frozen pie crust.
A pie pumpkin used to make pumpkin pies
Laina uses pie pumpkins to make her pies. You can usually find these pumpkins in the produce section of the grocery store before Halloween and until after Christmas. The pie pumpkins are smaller than the pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns. The pie pumpkins are also sweeter and the texture is not as grainy as the larger pumpkins.
Baked pie pumpkins
To make the puree, she bakes the pumpkins, scrapes out the seeds, and purees the cooked pumpkin–she does not use the shell. It is not as complicated or time consuming as one might think. And, the results are so much tastier than store bought pies and puree.
One of Laina’s pumpkin pies
Laina uses the frozen pie crusts from Trader Joe’s, which taste and look homemade. So, Laina’s pies are almost homemade . . . .
– Makes one pie
- One pie pumpkin
- 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 can evaporated milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and dry the pumpkin. Cut pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds and strings. Place the pumpkins cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Allow pumpkin to cool and then scrape the cooked pumpkin out of the shell.
Place the cooked pumpkin into a blender and puree until smooth. Laina likes to put the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk with the cooked pumpkin in the blender on the liquefy setting to make the texture smoother. Pour the pureed pumpkin into a bowl and mix in the eggs, then the salt, sugar, vanilla, and the spices. Mix well to make sure there are no spice clumps.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9″ pie plate with a pie crust and crimp the edges. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust.
Bake the pie in the 425 F oven for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Bake 40 more minutes or until the pie is no longer jiggly in the center.
Cool the pie before serving. We store our pumpkin pies in the refrigerator.
We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.
– David Mamet