Thinking about pumpkin pie

I just got back from a short (two-day) trip to Toronto, which is my last travel before November. In Canada, they celebrate Thanksgiving in October, on our Columbus Day, which is only two and a half weeks away — so the well-prepared home cook will already be thinking about menus. We, on the other hand, still have a couple of months, but I at least will be traveling for a good chunk of November, so it behooves me to start thinking about Thanksgiving myself — and since I won’t be taking care of the main meal (thanks to my parents’ relocation to the other end of the country), I’ll have to get my holiday cooking fix in beforehand.

Which brings me to the question of pumpkin pie. As I noted in my recipe pointers pages, there are a lot of pumpkin pie recipes — even once you discount the standard back-of-the-can recipes that vary mostly in how over-spiced they are, and whether they use sweetened condensed milk or not. I went through my cookbooks to identify interesting pumpkin pie recipes, and I’m going to use my Columbus Day holiday to bake some of them, and bring them in to work as a combination treat/tasting adventure. (Because obviously I’m not going to eat four or more pumpkin pies on my own!) If it goes well, I may do more on a subsequent weekend. Here are the contenders:

  • Alton Brown, “Pumpkin Pie”, Good Eats 3: The Later Years, p. 370 (from “American Classics IX”, Good Eats episode 239) — one I’ve done before, this uses a gingersnap crust and is otherwise spiced only with nutmeg
  • Joanne Chang, “Super-Pumpkiny Pumpkin Pie”, Flour, p. 214 — standard spices; vanilla, heavy cream, brown sugar, and evaporated milk; pumpkin puree is reduced significantly as a flavor boost
  • Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen, “Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie”, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, p. 168 — uses cream and milk; heavily sweetened with molasses and brown sugar; lightly spiced; vanilla, lemon juice, and carrot juice
  • Moosewood Collective, “Pecan Pumpkin Pie”, Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, p. 57 — a layered pie, with a(n optionally maple-)pecan filling on the bottom, and a standard pumpkin custard on top; uses an unusually large 10-inch pie plate
  • David Page and Barbara Shinn, “Honey Pumpkin Pie”, Recipes from Home, p. 394 — heavy cream; honey, brown and white sugar; standard spices except no cloves; cornstarch
  • Richard Sax, “Best-Ever Pumpkin Pie”, Classic Home Desserts, p. 539 (recipe also appears in Brooke Dojny, The New England Cookbook) — black pepper in addition to the usual spices; milk and heavy cream; adds bourbon or rum; brown and white sugar, with an option for maple syrup
  • Richard Sax, “Sour Cream Pumpkin Chiffon Pie”, Classic Home Desserts, p. 541 — a layered chiffon (refrigerator) pie, with gelatin; vanilla; standard spices; pecans
  • Alice Waters, “Pumpkin Pie”, The Art of Simple food, p. 368 — standard spices; uses cream for the custard rather than evaporated or condensed milk; lightly sweetened with brown sugar
  • anon., “Golden Pumpkin Pie”, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, p. 471 — a special oat and whole-wheat pâte brisée; sweetened only with honey; dairy is half-and-half; standard spices plus optional dark rum

Surprisingly, I didn’t find anything especially interesting in the Test Kitchen files: they have one recipe from 2008 that uses candied yams in addition to the pumpkin, a recipe from very early on that’s very heavy and heavily spiced as well, and a Cook’s Country recipe that is similar in concept to the Moosewood recipe above, except that the pecan layer is on top rather than on the bottom. There’s also a no-bake recipe that uses a precooked custard filling (rather than chiffon) and a graham-cracker crust.

Stay tuned for the choices and the results.

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3 Responses to Thinking about pumpkin pie

  1. Linda says:

    You forgot my personal favorite: “back of the One Pie can label”!

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