“To make Pumpkin-Pye ― TAKE the Pumpkin and peel the rind off, then stew it till it is quite soft, and put thereto one pint of pumpkin, one pint of milk, one glass of malaga wine, one glass of rose-water, if you like it, seven eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, one small nutmeg, and sugar and salt to your taste.” ―Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy to make
- 12 wholesome ingredients
- Delicious pumpkin flavor
- Rich and creamy filling
- Buttery homemade crust
The Origins of Pumpkin Pie
The use of pumpkins, a native American crop, dates back thousands of years. Indigenous peoples in North and Central America cultivated pumpkins, squash, and gourds for their sustenance, preparing them in various ways, including roasting, boiling, and drying.
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen speaks of an enormous squash called Gete Okosomin ― Big Old Squash, a massive squash that survived centuries of war, famine, and the Trail of Tears. “The squashes we now find in markets are descendants of this iconic indigenous food. Through the years, they’ve been hydrolyzed with varieties from other regions and different parts of the world,” (Sherman and Dooley, 2017).
When European settlers arrived in North America, they learned about indigenious culinary traditions, including the use of pumpkins. Pumpkins became an important food source for the colonists due to their abundance and suitability for long-term storage. Early colonial cooks created recipes that incorporated pumpkin, such as “pumpion” or “pompion” pie, a precursor to modern pumpkin pie.
Early renditions of pumpkin pies were quite different from the pies we know today. They often involved hollowing out a pumpkin, filling it with milk, spices, and honey, and then baking the entire pumpkin. As culinary techniques and ingredients evolved, so did the pumpkin pie. The pumpkin filling was eventually placed in pie crusts.
By the 19th century, pumpkin pie had become a staple of American Thanksgiving dinners. The famous cookbook author Sarah Josepha Hale, who also advocated for Thanksgiving as a national holiday, included pumpkin pie recipes in her works, helping to popularize it further.
By the 20th century, canned pumpkin puree became widely available in the, making it easier for home cooks to prepare pumpkin pies.
Our Pumpkin Pie
I won’t be adding malaga wine or rosewater in this version of the pie (perhaps in a future experiment). But, I will be making it with heavy cream and loads of autumnal spices.
This pie was made using Homemade Butter Pie Crust, a flakey crust that uses a combination of butter and coconut palm shortening. The filling is made with heavy cream for a smooth and silky texture. Cracks in the filling can happen; to prevent this, bake the pie until the center still has a slight wobble.
If your pie does have a crack, not to worry; this is purely a cosmetic grievance, and has no effect on the taste or texture of the pie.
To ensure the crust is fully baked:
- Blind Bake: Blind baking means pre-baking the pie crust before adding the filling. To do this, line the crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights (dried beans, rice, or commercial pie weights). Bake the crust for a short time (typically 10-15 minutes) until it’s set but not fully cooked. This creates a barrier between the filling and the crust, helping to prevent sogginess.
- Egg Wash: After blind baking, you can brush the inside of the crust with a beaten egg or egg white. This creates a protective layer that seals the crust, preventing moisture from the filling from seeping in.
- Thicker Bottom Crust: Make sure the bottom crust is on the thick side. A thicker crust is more resistant to moisture absorption.
- Fruit Preparation: If you’re making a fruit pie, consider pre-cooking the fruit filling to remove excess moisture. This can be done by gently simmering the fruit with sugar and a thickening agent like cornstarch or tapioca.
- Chill the Crust: Before filling and baking, chill the pie crust in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This helps firm up the fats in the crust, making it less prone to sogginess.
- Use a Pizza Stone: Placing a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven while it preheats can help absorb excess moisture and keep the bottom crust crisp.
- Bottom Ventilation: Some pie recipes call for placing the pie on a preheated baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven. This can help to ensure that the bottom crust cooks evenly and doesn’t get soggy.
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Special Tools and Equipment
Large mixing bowl
9″ pie dish
Silicone or rubber spatula
Beans or pie weights for blind baking
Classic Pumpkin Pie
- Half of the Homemade Butter Pie Crust recipe, or premade crust, chilled
- 15 oz (425g) canned pumpkin, or cooked squash
- 3 large eggs, reserve 2 tsp of egg for an egg wash
- 1 1/4 cups (250g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 tbsp (10g) cornstarch
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup (250ml) heavy cream
Prepare the pie dough
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
On a lightly floured surface, evenly roll out the pie crust into an 11 to 12 inch circle.
Carefully lay the pie dough into a 9 inch pie dish, being sure to smooth it out across the entire surface of the dish. Cut off the excess dough from the edges and crimp them with your fingers, a fork, or a flute.
Place the pie dish into the refrigerator to chill for an additional 15 to 30 minutes.
Par bake the crust
Remove the pie dish from the refrigerator and prick the bottom of the pie dough several times with a fork. This will help ensure the crust bakes evenly.
Line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill the inside with 2 cups of dry beans or pie weights. Ensure that the beans or weights have been distributed evenly.
Lightly brush the edges with egg wash (2 tsp of egg plus 1 tsp of water) and par bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven along with the dry beans or pie weights. Set the crust aside in a warm place.
Make the pumpkin pie filling
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin or squash, eggs, and sugar until fully combined. Then, add the cornstarch, spices, salt, heavy cream, and milk. Blend until fully incorporated.
Line the edges of the crust with aluminum foil; this will prevent the edges from burning. Then, pour the pumpkin pie filling into the crust until there is roughly 1/2 an inch of space between the filling and the edges. You may have leftover filling that can be used for mini pies or pastries. Bake the pie for 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil from the edges, then bake the pie for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center of the pie wobbles slightly.
Remove the pie from the oven, and allow it to cool on a wire rack or cool surface for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Decorate or serve with whipped cream. Enjoy for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Olver, L., (2000). The Food Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodpies.html
Sherman, S. and Dooley, B., (2017). The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London.