Pumpkin Pie

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This morning began spectacularly! After I got home from the bus stop, I realized I had gone to and from the stop with my fly down. Seriously, my awesomeness is all natural! A friend suggested that it was a classy way to advertise. I’m considering a sign in neon that says, Prime gunt location. Inquire within. That, coupled with all the rain we’re getting from Karen, made it seem like a good day for my next pie month installment. See last week’s installment, here.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with pumpkin pie. While I liked eating it, for a long time I couldn’t figure out what my problem with pumpkin pie was. Was it the texture? Was it the flavor? Was is just years of holiday pie overload and I craved something different? I figured out it was probably a combination of all three. I hated how a regular pastry crust didn’t stand up to the spicy custard. I didn’t like the fact that there wasn’t any texture; it might as well have been a pudding, rather than pie. And while I like the warm, fragrant spices that come with pumpkin pie, I felt like they needed something to accompany them and brighten up each bite.

This pie solves many of those problems. A gingersnap crust adds some texture. It was a bit chewy on the upper edges, in a good way. I was hoping for something more crunchy. But I think that’s going to require adding nuts, which isn’t going to happen. The flavors in the crust did not get in lost in the custard of the pie. Adding the orange zest brightens up the pie, making it taste fresh and light. The added bonus of this pie is that it’s one of the easiest I’ve ever made. The crust can be whirled together in a food processor, (if you don’t have a food processor, you can use the “bang the shit out of it” method with a rolling pin and bag, but it’s harder to get a fine crumb since the gingersnaps are so hard) and all the ingredients for the custard can just be whisked together in one bowl.

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

Crust
6 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 2 cups crumbs)
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
Zest from one large navel orange
1 ounce unsalted butter, melted (about 2 Tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place cookies in a large plastic bag and break up cookies with a rolling pin. Place pieces in food processor bowl. Add brown sugar, ginger, and orange zest to work bowl. Run processor to combine and until the cookies are fine crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse processor until butter is integrated, about 10 pulses.
Place crumbs in a 9 inch pie plate and gently press into the bottom and up the sides. Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Allow crust to cool for at least 10 minutes on a cooling rack.

A couple notes…
My pie plates are 9.5 inches. I added 1.25 ounces, for a total of 7.25 ounces, to the gingersnaps. (About 3 cups of crumbs.) I added 1/4 tsp brown sugar. You’ll need about 3 1/2 Tbsp of melted butter. Don’t worry. You won’t need to adjust your filling recipe.
I found it’s easier to get the crumbs pressed in and evenly distributed if you drop crumbs in one handful at a time. Start by covering the bottom. Once you’ve pressed the crumbs where you need them, you can drop in your next handful. I spent much less time keeping the crust from breaking using this method.

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Pumpkin pie filling

15-oz can canned solid-pack pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk ingredients together and pour into cooled crust. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool completely on cooling rack. Store covered in the fridge.

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Tips about your final product
1) Jiggliness
Your pie is still going to jiggle a little when you pull it out of the oven. If it doesn’t, it’s been overcooked. But you also don’t want it to be undercooked, with the custard still looking soupy in the middle. To put it another way: You want it somewhere between a mild Miley twerk and a Beyoncé bootylicious bounce. A Shakira shake is right out.

2) Color
You want your pie to be uniform in color. You’re going for a nice George Hamilton browrange. If it’s still John Boehner orange in the middle, it’s not quite done. (New challenge: work John Boehner into all my pie recipe posts!)

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I’m a fan of whipped cream on my pumpkin pie. Please please PLEASE just make your own whipped cream at home. I understand it’s easy to buy a can, but it’s super easy to make your own whipped cream. Just remember, it’s a 1:1 ratio: 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 Tbsp sugar. (I don’t like my whipped cream too sweet, especially since it’s usually going on something already sweet.) Beat with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form, which should only take a few minutes.

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No peak-ing
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Soft peaks
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Twin peaks
Seriously, if you buy Cool Whip, I will come punch you in the face!

Crust recipe adapted from Alton Brown for Food Network. Filling recipe from Epicurious.

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4 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pie

  1. Oooh… the bang the shit out of it method…my favorite.
    (said in the same voice as Mr. Tweedy from Chicken Run). also a pie movie.

      • Somehow it always ends up in the zipper pouch of boredom…and by that I mean the bunch of movies we always (ALWAYS) take on trips. That and Lion King 2. Sigh. We’ll be watching them on the way to USA in 9 days I just know it.

  2. Pingback: Pumpkin gingersnap ice cream | Julie, Unfiltered

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