This Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to make pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin for the first time ever. We grew several varieties of pumpkins in our garden this year, including Sugar pie pumpkins (which are smaller, and sweeter).
I remember how proud I felt the first time I made pumpkin pie “from scratch” using canned pumpkin and canned condensed milk. At the time, the concept of baking a pumpkin pie with an actual pumpkin seemed completely intangible – however appealing.
I’ve been teaching myself to cook for about 10 years, and I feel good about slowly navigating away from prepared foods and becoming comfortable with cooking in ways that our ancestors from just a few generations back may well have taken for granted.
Making your own pumpkin pie from scratch using a fresh pumpkin is WAY easier than it sounds, and it is loads of fun too. Below are some simple steps to follow with pictures from my Thanksgiving last month. (Note: this is a photo-heavy post. If you have trouble loading the page, please let me know).
Homemade Pumpkin Pie from Fresh Pumpkin
1. Select your pumpkin
Select a fresh pumpkin for your pie.
Ours was about 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) in diameter. In the first picture of this post you can see where this pumpkin grew – on a little dish in the garden next to the bird bath where I like to put seeds and crumbs of bread for the birds.
(Pay no attention to the time on the oven – we have a policy in our house that all clocks must never show the actual time).
2. Prepare your pumpkin
Give your pumpkin a good wash (especially if you picked it at the grocery store). Using a serrated knife (and possibly a strong friend), slice your pumpkin in half.
Scoop out the seeds and stringers and set that part aside (for roasted pumpkin seeds).
3. Bake your pumpkin
I baked mine shell-side down for about an hour at 350 F, although many recipes suggest baking them shell-side-up. I don’t think it mattered – the pumpkin was still nice and hot and squishy when I was done. This picture shows them flipped shell-side-up: I pushed on the shell so you can see how soft it became.
4. Scoop out your pumpkin
I scooped out the pumpkin with my icecream scoop. It rolled right out like butter. I know that many recipes suggest you blend the pumpkin with a food processor at this point. I don’t own one (and the blender died in a margarita adventure this summer), but I don’t think it mattered – the pumpkin was as soft and smooth as if it had come right out of that can!
(Remember to compost the parts of the pumpkin you won’t use. If you don’t compost and want to learn how, check back in the Spring – I’ll be posting easy-to-use compost information here at AppleJade).
5. Prepare your crust and your pie filling per the recipe directions
Crust: I stuck with my usual pie crust recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 12th ed. (but substituting in one half-cup of whole wheat flour for my own personal taste).
Filling: As mentioned above, I used Rebecca Wood’s Kitchen Dakini recipe for Pumpkin Pie. During my initial search for pumpkin pie recipes online, I found that some folks needed more sugar in their pies than their recipes suggest. Since I’m pretty sure my pumpkin was just a small Howden, and not an actual Sugar pie pumpkin (our husky got to the Sugar pies first), I added 3/4 cup of brown sugar to my recipe – the sweetness was just right.
I also did not use quite as much cream as the recipe requested. If you’ve made pumpkin pie using canned components, it’s easy to gauge by sight whether the consistency is correct. (By the way: fresh, heavy cream is sometimes called “whipping cream” – thanks Mom for the last minute help on that one!)
6. Bake and Party
Pop your pie in the oven and bake as directed.***
***Greetings from 2012: over the years many have asked me about oven baking temperatures. Here is the info you need:
The recipe I used for my pumpkin pie blog post at AppleJade comes from Rebecca Wood, Kitchen Daikini: http://www.rwood.com/Recipes/Pumpkin_Pie.htm
Rebecca instructs us to:
a) preheat the oven to 350 F while we make the crust and bake our fresh, halved pumpkin
b) increase the temperature to 425 F just before we mix the pie filling
c) bake the pie at 425 F for the first 15 minutes of baking
d) reduce the temperature to 350 F for the remaining 45 minutes of baking, or until pie is done.
For European ovens, I think these temperatures are:
350 F = 180 C = Gas #4
425 F = 220 C = Gas #7
Remember to cool completely, and for a delicious complement, whip up what’s left of your fresh cream with some confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract.
Meanwhile, enjoy your holiday, and remember to give thanks (regardless of the celebration) for the fruit of the Earth, the skill of your hands, and the power at your fingertips with an in-home stove and oven. I might think I’m pretty cool for making a fresh pumpkin pie, but it’s not like I had to gather kindling, start a fire, and keep it stoked while my pie was baking, nor did I have to feed, muck, and milk the cow whose cream blessed my meal.
I think I’ll save that for next Thanksgiving…
Filed under: Attitude, Cooking, Garden, Goals, Health Tagged: | autumn, baking, connecting with your food, Cooking, cooking from scratch, fruit, Garden, Health, hearth, home, natural health, Nutrition, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, recipe, Thanksgiving