How to Make Pumpkin Pie from a Pumpkin
Pick up a pumpkin or two and make an amazing homemade pumpkin pie. You will love the fresh, full flavor of baking with real pumpkin. Follow these directions for selecting the best pie gourds to make pumpkin pie from a pumpkin. We include tips, tricks, and even a recipe for pumpkin pie from scratch.
Amelia Simmons, author of American Cookery published in 1796, is credited with a pumpkin pudding recipe in a crust that would become the basis of today's beloved pumpkin pie. While canned pumpkin is the simplest option for pie making, learn how to make pumpkin pie the old-fashioned way: by making a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin.
How to Choose a Pie Pumpkin
For a jack-o'-lantern, the bigger the pumpkin, the better. This isn't the case for pie pumpkins. Avoid ornamental varieties and large pumpkins, which are bred for size and looks, not flavor. Instead, choose those labeled as pie pumpkins. They are small, dense, and rich in color, and they have a sweet, full-flavor flesh. Some varieties include Sugar Pie, Baby Pam, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, and New England Pie. Pumpkin season lasts from September through November. Look for pumpkins that are blemish-free and heavy for their size. Store them in a cool place for up to 1 month.
2-1/2 pound pie pumpkin = 1-3/4 cups puree (equivalent to one 15-ounce can pumpkin)
3-1/2 pound pie pumpkin = 2-1/2 cups puree
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
When making a pumpkin pie from scratch, turn to pumpkin puree to use in place of canned pumpkin. To make puree, first cut up the pumpkin and bake it. Here's how:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a sturdy serrated knife, cut the pumpkin into 5x5-inch pieces. With a large metal spoon, remove the seeds and strings. Discard the seeds or reserve them to make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.
- Line a large baking pan with foil. Arrange the pumpkin pieces in a single layer, skin side up, in the pan. Cover with foil.
- Bake the pumpkin, covered, for 1 hour or until the pulp is tender when poked with a fork. Let the pieces cool until easy to handle.
- Use a metal spoon to scoop the pumpkin pulp from the rind. Place the pulp in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until smooth.
Tip: You can cook and puree the pumpkin ahead. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or place the puree in a freezer container or freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw the puree in the refrigerator to use.
Pie Pastry from Scratch
Most people consider the piecrust to be the hardest part of making a pie. While it takes a little practice, tender, flaky pastry isn't difficult to achieve. Follow these pointers:
- Following your pastry recipe, use a pastry blender to cut the fat (shortening, lard, and/or butter) into the flour mixture just until the pieces are pea-size. This creates pockets of fat in the pastry, which make it flaky.
- To moisten the flour, sprinkle ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over part of the flour mixture. Toss gently with a fork and push the flour mixture to one side of the bowl. Repeat, using just enough water to evenly moisten the flour mixture.
- Gather up the moist flour mixture with your hands to form a ball, kneading gently until it holds together.
- Flour the rolling surface to keep the dough from sticking. Flatten the pastry ball with your hands.
- With a floured rolling pin, roll the pastry dough from the center to the edges with light, even strokes to form a 12-inch circle. Sprinkle the surface with additional flour if needed.
- To transfer the dough circle, wrap it around the rolling pin. Holding the rolling pin over a pie plate, unroll the pastry, being careful not to stretch it as you ease it into the plate.
- Using a kitchen scissors, trim the excess dough to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Fold the extra dough under so the dough is even with the rim of the plate.
Tip: If you have a thin spot, use some of the dough scraps to build it up so the edge is as even as possible.
For a fluted edge, place a fork or a finger against the inside edge of the pastry. Using the thumb and index finger of the other hand, press the pastry around the fork or finger. Continue around the circumference of the pie.
Whisk Together the Pie Filling
Now that you have the pumpkin puree and the pie pastry done, the filling is a 5-minute job. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt. Lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, and whisk them into the pumpkin mixture just until combined. Stir in the milk just until combined, and pour the filling into the unbaked piecrust.
Tip: For a mild pie, use the minimum amount of spices. For a more intense spice flavor, bump up the amount of spices in the filling.
Baking the Pumpkin Pie
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil: Tear off a 12-inch square of foil and fold it into quarters. Cut a 7-inch circle out of the center of the foil. Unfold the foil and place it on the pie, loosely molding the foil over the edges.
- Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill within 2 hours for up to 2 days.
You can substitute homemade pumpkin puree for any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling).
Pumpkin Pie Topping Ideas
Cranberry-Pecan Caramel Topper: This no-cook nut-and-berry mixture makes an attractive garnish for your pumpkin pie.
In a medium bowl combine 1/3 cup dried cranberries with 3 tablespoons brandy or apple juice. Let the mixture stand about 15 minutes; this plumps and softens the dried fruit. Sir in 1-1/2 cups pecan halves that have been toasted and 1/4 cup caramel-flavor ice cream topping. You can spoon it atop the pie and serve it right away, or chill the topper for up to a week.