Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

by Patricia Eddy on November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

Solid Pack Pumpkin. Solid. Pack. Pumpkin.
If you’ve been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for years (or in my case, helping to cook Thanksgiving dinner with my mother for years), you’ve probably seen those words. Solid. Pack. Pumpkin.

When I was growing up, it was Libby’s solid pack pumpkin or nothing at all. There was a store brand, at one point, but I remember mom trying it when dad couldn’t find Libby’s and she hated it. It just wasn’t the same. Dad, of course, had to go right back out to a different store and buy more Libby’s solid pack pumpkin.

Ok, so this is sounding a bit like a rant against solid pack pumpkin. And I promise it really isn’t. What it is however, is a plea to just once, try making a pumpkin pie from scratch. I tried for the first time this year and now I’m sold. You can really tell the difference in taste and texture and other than taking a bit of time, it is very easy.

I’ve included two different pie crusts. The first crust is the one I took from The Art and Soul of Baking. It was good, but it was more complicated and I don’t think it was as flaky or as robust as the second one. This second one is the crust I’ve been using for years. It’s the crust my mom makes. It’s from Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook. Yep. The red checkerboard one. I get compliments on it all the time. If you want a flakier crust, substitute 1/3 cup of lard for 1/3 cup of the butter.

Roast Your Pumpkin

Roasting a pumpkin is very simple. Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally. Scoop out the pumpkin seeds and reserve. You can roast them later for a delicious snack.

Turn the pumpkin halves cut sides down on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 for 30-40 minutes, or until you can stick a fork in the outside of the skin and have it pierce easily.

Cooled and sliced

Cooled and sliced

Let the pumpkin cool and scoop out the insides. Process the pumpkin innards in a food processor until smooth.

You can freeze the pumpkin or refrigerate it for up to 7 days.

One medium pumpkin will yield enough pumpkin puree for two batches of pumpkin hazelnut bread and one pumpkin pie.

Pie Crust – Take 1

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3-4 Tbsp cold water
  • 1.25 cups (6.25 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Freeze the butter pieces for 20 minutes and refrigerate the water for the same amount of time.
  2. In a food processor or stand mixer, pulse the flour, salt and sugar for 10 seconds.
  3. Add the frozen butter and pulse another 5-10 times until the butter is the size of peas.
  4. Transfer the mix to a large bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mix.
  5. Using your hands, fluff the water into the flour mix.
  6. Repeat twice (so you’ve added in total 3 Tbsp of water).
  7. Now test the dough. Take a handful of dough and make a fist. If the dough falls apart when you open your fist, add another tablespoon of water and start again. If it is moist enough, then turn it out onto a floured counter.
  8. Knead 3-6 times.
  9. Flatten the dough into a disk (about 7 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic wrap.
  10. Chill for 30 minutes.
  11. Can I cut you a slice?

    Can I cut you a slice?

Pie Crust – Take 2

  • 2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 6-7 tbsp cold water
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, pulse the butter, flour, salt, and sugar until the butter is the size of peas.
  2. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, while mixing on low.
  3. When the dough just barely starts to come together, turn off the mixer and stop adding water.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until the dough is cohesive.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes.

Pumkpin Pie Filling

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2. cups pumpkin puree
Pumpkin Custard

Pumpkin Custard

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Roll out the pie crust and place in a 9-10 inch pie plate.
  3. Fill with aluminum foil and add pie weights on top of the foil.
  4. Bake on the middle oven rack for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the pie weights and the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden brown.
  6. Remove the crust and turn the oven down to 350.
  7. Place the beaten eggs into a large bowl.
  8. Add the spices (cinnamon through salt) and mix well.
  9. Whisk in the cream, brown sugar, granulated sugar, until well mixed.
  10. Strain the mix through a sieve into a medium saucepan.
  11. Add the pureed pumpkin and mix well.
  12. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  13. Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened and reads 150 on a candy thermometer.
  14. Pour the pumpkin puree into the pie crust.
  15. If you have leftover filling, pour it into ramekins.
  16. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the custard is set.
  17. Cool and serve with whipped cream.

Golden brown crust

Golden brown crust

Notes: This was pretty much the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. I think in part that was because it wasn’t heavily spiced. You could really taste the pumpkin flavor and the texture couldn’t be beat. It was firm and rich. In part I think the heavy cream was significantly better than the Libby’s recipe that calls for evaporated milk. I’ve made this pie twice and I was very satisfied both times. When I make this for Thanksgiving this year, I’ll add just a pinch more of all of the spices. If you wanted to make the pie even fancier, get some candied ginger from Mair Taki at the University District Market and mince that up and spread a layer on the bottom of the crust before filling. Or mince the ginger even more and mix it in with the whipped cream.

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Shef November 9, 2009 at 10:50 am

Thank you so much for this! I have about 12lbs of pumpkin puree and have a heck of a time finding pumpkin recipes that call for that instead of solid pack. And as you know, you can’t just substitute one for the other straight across.

Patricia Eddy November 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

Check out the Pumpkin Hazelnut Bread as well. I will also be posting pumpkin cinnamon rolls on Thursday.

Kristin Thomas November 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Duane and I always puree our own pumpkins (see various facebook rants leading up to Halloween recently) and Duane discovered this pumpkin pie recipe last year and swears he will never make another recipe. Since he is obsessed with all things pumpkin, I just trust him. Try it, it’s wonderful! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grandma-Cottingtons-Pumpkin-Pie-920

and he just uses 3 cups puree instead of solid pack.

Diane Easley @homegoddess November 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Just the inspiration I needed to try my hand at a pie this season. The photos look good enough to eat!

Aimee November 11, 2009 at 11:19 am

Yeah, I’ve been doing the real pumpkin pies for some years now, and it is hard to go back to SOLID PACK. ;-) I roast, puree and freeze 2c of pumpkins whenever I see the sugar pies in the store… then I can make a pie at any time.
.-= Aimee´s last blog ..Five o’clock and Flannel =-.

Katy November 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I’m in the process of making this right now! So far it’s coming out great!! I am using phyllo dough for the crust though! We’ll see how it comes out, I can’t wait to try it.

laura h November 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm

What is a medium sized pumpkin?

Patricia Eddy November 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’d say a pumpkin that’s at least 3-4 pounds would be a medium pumpkin.

Donna November 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I am smelling this recipe in the oven right now! While it’s not yet done, while tasting the custard as it thickens, I agree that it could use a tiny bit more spice to taste to bring out that holiday cheer. But so far, very impressed! Can’t wait for my family to try it for thanksgiving!

Chuck November 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Just finished making this for the family gathering tomorrow. It came out great. The entire house smells wonderful!

Kira Silvers November 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm

This is the first time I have ever made a Pumpkin Pie. My family has a pie contest every year, and this year it was a Pumpkin Pie. I love to make things from scratch, and the rest of my family is not a scratch cooker. My mom is making her pumpkin pie from Pack Pumpkin, the kind in the Libby’s can…I have made it my mission to show that scratch is better. I had my daughter try a taste with some of the leftover custard; she requested that she have her own bowl right away…It made me feel so good that she loved my pumpkin pie so much she wanted the soup form of it and could not wait for tomorrow.
Thank you for this awesome recipe. It truly is delicious!

Patricia Eddy November 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Thank you, Kira! I hope you win the contest!

Nazareth Farm November 29, 2011 at 6:15 am

How long do you cook it and at what temperature? We love the idea of using real pumpkins!

Patricia Eddy December 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The cooking time and temperature are listed in the recipe. Thanks!

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