Best Pumpkin Pie
Oct 30, 2023, Updated Nov 21, 2023
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This Pumpkin pie is a symphony of rich, earthy flavors combined with warm spices, all harmoniously melded in a velvety filling. Its unique taste and comforting aroma make it an irresistibly delightful dessert cherished by many.
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Spicy Fall Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie is a quintessential dessert that has graced American tables for centuries, becoming especially synonymous with autumnal celebrations and Thanksgiving feasts. Crafted from the smooth, rich puree of the pumpkin fruit and a delicate blend of warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, this pie is encased in a buttery, flaky crust which provides a delightful textural contrast. The pie’s filling, with its velvety texture and subtly sweet flavor, showcases the pumpkin’s earthy sweetness in a way that is comforting and indulgent all at once.
Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin pie is also steeped in cultural and historical significance. It acts as a bridge between the old world and the new, having its roots in the early European preparations of spiced and sweetened squash dishes, which evolved into the pie we recognize today once the settlers encountered the native pumpkins of the Americas. Its enduring popularity stands as a testament to its ability to adapt and evolve, and yet, at its core, remain a simple and unpretentious dessert that evokes a sense of nostalgia and home for many.
How to make Pumpkin Pie
First you will need to assemble the following ingredients:
- Pie crust (9-inch) – a good quality pie crust gives the pie a buttery and flaky base with a hint of savory richness.
- Pumpkin purée (15 ounces) – whether fresh or canned, pumpkin puree offers an earthy and subtly sweet with the unmistakable essence of autumn squash.
- Granulated sugar (1/2 cup) – sugar gives the pie a straightforward sweetness that enhances and brightens other flavors.
- Light brown sugar (1/2 cup) – I love using brown sugar since it adds moist sweetness with hints of caramel and molasses.
- Molasses (2 tbsp) – molasses has a deep, rich sweetness with undertones of smoky bitterness.
- Salt (1/2 tsp) – salt has a sharp mineral flavor that heightens and balances the palate.
- Cinnamon (2 tsp) – cinnamon has warm, aromatic spice with sweet and woody nuances.
- Ginger (1 tsp) – this adds a spicy and zesty kick with a touch of warmth and sweetness.
- Nutmeg (1/4 tsp) – nutmeg gives the pie a sweet and nutty spice with subtle woody undertones.
- Cloves (1/8 tsp) – cloves have a bold, pungent spice exuding warmth and a hint of bitterness.
- Milk (3/4 cup) – milk has creamy, mild sweetness with a delicate lactic essence.
- Heavy cream (3/4 cup) – has a rich, velvety texture with a decadent dairy sweetness.
- Eggs (3) – A neutral foundation with a subtle richness that binds and sets the other ingredients.
- Vanilla extract (1 tsp) – A fragrant, sweet essence with floral undertones and a hint of caramel.
Use this Method to Make the Pie:
- Bake crust. Roll the crust into a buttered pie pan trim or crimp the edges. Make sure you refrigerate the crust ahead of time so it is cold. Crumple up some parchment paper and place over the unbaked crust, place pie weighs or dried beans in the covered pie crust. This is to weigh it down and prevent shrinking. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes, remove the weights and parchment paper. Then bake another 5 minutes to cook the bottom. Set aside to cool and turn oven down to 375.
- Blend. Blend the pumpkin puree, sugars, molasses, and spices together. You can do this in a stand-up blender or with an immersion blender in a saucepan. Blend until sugar is fully incorporated.
- Cook Filling. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan. Heat on medium high, stirring frequently until you see steam rising, about 5 minutes. You are heating the spices to integrate the flavors. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the milk and heavy cream. Once it is cooled add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.
- Bake. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust. I usually fill it halfway on the countertop and the rest of the way in the oven. Bake 50 minutes to an hour or until it is set but has a slight jiggle when you shake the pan. Check the pie every 15-20 minutes during baking to make sure the crust doesn’t burn, you can cover it with tin foil if you need to. Let the pie cool completely at room temperature before cutting into it, enjoy!
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Use Fresh Pumpkin: While canned pumpkin is convenient, using fresh pumpkin can elevate the flavor. Go for sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, which are smaller and sweeter than the decorative ones.
Blind Bake the Crust: To avoid a soggy bottom, consider blind baking (pre-baking without filling) the pie crust for 10-15 minutes before adding the pumpkin mixture.
Seasoning: Don’t be shy with spices. Classic pumpkin pie spices include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Adjust to your taste, and always opt for freshly grated nutmeg when possible.
Creaminess Matters: For a richer pie, consider using heavy cream or a combination of whole milk and cream instead of evaporated milk.
Avoid Overbaking: The pie is done when the edges are set but the center is slightly jiggly. Overbaking can lead to cracks on the surface.
Cooling is Key: After baking, let the pie cool completely on a wire rack. This helps the filling set and flavors meld together.
Avoiding Cracks: To prevent cracks, avoid overmixing the filling. Also, consider baking at a slightly lower temperature for a longer time.
Enhance Flavor: Add a splash of bourbon or more vanilla extract to the filling for an extra layer of flavor.
Egg Wash: Brush the pie crust edges with a beaten egg mixed with a little water. This will give the crust a beautiful golden finish.
Serve with Accompaniments: While delicious on its own, pumpkin pie can be elevated with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or even a sprinkle of candied pecans.
Absolutely! Canned pumpkin is a convenient alternative to fresh pumpkin and is consistent in texture and flavor. Just make sure you’re using pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which has added spices and sweeteners.
Cracking usually occurs when the pie is overbaked. It’s important to note that pumpkin pie will continue to set as it cools. Aim for the edges to be firm and the center slightly wobbly when you take it out of the oven.
A baked pumpkin pie should be refrigerated and is typically good for 3-4 days. Ensure it’s covered to retain moisture and freshness.
Yes! Once cooled, wrap the pie tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
While not always necessary, blind baking prevents the crust from becoming soggy. It ensures a crisp base for the moist pumpkin filling.
Definitely! You can substitute dairy milk with coconut milk, almond milk, or any other dairy-free alternatives. Coconut milk, in particular, gives a rich and creamy texture.
Graininess can arise from using lower-quality canned pumpkin or not blending the mixture thoroughly. To ensure smoothness, consider blending the filling in a food processor or using a fine-mesh strainer.
Yes, pumpkin pie spice is a blend of the typical spices used in the pie (like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves). If using this blend, adjust the quantity based on your taste preference.
The pie is ready when the edges are set and the center has a slight jiggle to it. You can also insert a knife near the center; if it comes out clean, the pie is done.
Pumpkin pie is best served chilled. It pairs wonderfully with whipped cream, ice cream, or a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
What to Enjoy with Pumpkin Pie
Pairing pumpkin pie with complementary flavors and textures can elevate the entire dessert experience. Here are some suggestions on what to enjoy with pumpkin pie:
- Whipped Cream: A classic choice, the light and airy texture of whipped cream contrasts beautifully with the dense pumpkin filling. You can flavor the whipped cream with vanilla, cinnamon, or even a splash of bourbon.
- Ice Cream: Vanilla is a classic choice, but you might also consider flavors like cinnamon, caramel, or pecan.
- Hot Beverages:
- Coffee: The bitterness of black coffee or the creaminess of a latte complements the sweet and spiced notes of the pie.
- Hot Chocolate: A rich and sweet option that pairs wonderfully, especially if topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.
- Chai Tea: The spices in chai tea mirror those in pumpkin pie, making for a harmonious pairing.
- Cold Beverages:
- Milk: A simple, cold glass of milk can balance out the rich flavors.
- Cider: A chilled apple cider, especially spiced cider, can be a refreshing complement.
- Nuts: Candied pecans or walnuts can add a crunchy texture and additional layer of flavor.
- Caramel Sauce: Drizzling a warm caramel sauce over the pie can enhance its sweetness and add a gooey texture.
- Cheese: While unconventional, a slice of sharp cheddar cheese can create a sweet and savory combination that some people adore.
- Toasted Coconut: Adds a tropical flavor and crunchy texture to each bite.
- Chocolate Shavings or Chocolate Sauce: Chocolate and pumpkin is a delightful combination, adding richness and depth to the pie.
- Fruit Compote: A tangy fruit compote, such as cranberry or apple, can provide a nice contrast to the pie’s sweetness.
Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe
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- 9-inch unbaked pie crust, refidgerated
- 15 ounces (1 can) pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (107 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Roll out the pie crust and transfer it to a well-buttered 9-inch pie pan. Trim and crimp the edges, refridgerate until oven is ready.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). To pre-bake, line the chilled crust tightly with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then remove the weights and foil, and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven, place on a baking sheet, and set aside. Leave the oven on, but turn down the heat to 375 degrees F (190 C).
- Prepare the filling. In a blender or using an immersion blender in a pot combine the pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, spices, and molasses. Blend until the brown sugar is completely incorporated.
- Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until you see wisps of steam rising, then stir continuously until the mixture is very steamy and makes a slight bubbling sound when you pause for a second about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, then whisk in milk and cream. This should cool the mixture to room temperature.
- Whisk in the eggs and vanilla well.
- Pour the warm pumpkin mixture into the pre-baked pie crust. Carefully transfer the baking sheet with the pie to the oven. Alternatively you can fill the pie crust in the oven to get the max fill.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the pie puffs slightly in the middle, but still jiggles when you gently shake the pan. You may also see small cracks in the outer part of the pie and some bubbling around the edge. Check the pie every 15-20 minutes and cover the crust with a ring of foil when it is deep golden brown.
- Let the pie cool to set fully, I prefer to refrigerate it before enjoying. Enjoy!
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 196Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 75mgSodium 290mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 1gSugar 6gProtein 4g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.