'Tis The Season For Pie, Pumpkin Pie

November 5, 2015

DISCLAIMER: I have a limited knowledge of baking, and no business doing so. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s make a pie!

Pumpkins are in season, you may have noticed. Pumpkin spice and flavoring can be found in every food and beverage, while corpses of Jack’o’laterns rot on every door step. I’m not big on pumpkin flavoring, but I do love the culinary delights that highlight it’s deliciousness, like pie, or soup. Pumpkin pie was my favorite growing up, so I've dabled in a few recipes. What follows is a hybrid of what I liked best from each of them. 

First, let's focus on the crust which will make or break any pie. I've been experimenting with whole wheat crust. Not a mix with white flour, but entirely whole wheat. It’s a bit tricky, and takes some patience and care. Here's how I do it. 

It’s a basic crust recipe you’ll run across everywhere in regards to ingredients, I just do a straight flour substitution. 


2 1/2 cups flour

2 sticks butter

1 T brown sugar 

pinch of salt

some ice water


Cube up the butter, and let it sit in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 

crust ingridients


Cut the cubes of butter in to the flour mixture with a dough blender, or a couple of butter knives. It’s important that the butter is cold, and you do this in a timely manner. When the butter is cut down to pea size pieces you’re done. 

crust mix


Stir in just enough of the ice water so that you can work the dough into a ball, but don’t over do it. Divide the ball in two, and shape the halves in to disks. Since this pie doesn’t call for a top layer of crust, I used about 2/3 of the dough for a thicker crust, and kept the rest aside to make cookies. 

crust disks


Wrap the disks in plastic, and let them sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Now lets look at what I put into the filling.

pie filling ingridients


I’m not convinced that the sugar pie pumpkins make better pies. Growing up we always used carving pumpkins and never complained. But they’re available, so why not.

Here’s what I used for the filling:


2 cups cooked pumpkin

1 1/2 cups half n half

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar (about half of what most recipes call for, it doesn't need to be so sweet)

T cinnamon (2T is what I really used)

T ground ginger (use fresh if you really wanna spice it up)

t nutmeg

t sea salt

1/4 t ground cloves


First you need to cook the pumpkin. There are several ways, but I prefer to bake it. Simply cut it in half, scrape out the inside, and set face down in a pan with about 1/4 in of water. 


pumpkin ready to bake


Bake at 350 until you can easily pass a skewer through. I over bake it to the point where the skin separates, making it easy to get at the filling. 

baked pumpkin


If you want to be fancy, you can process the pumpkin through fancy kitchen appliances. I don’t have any thing like that, so I just stir it well and call it good. The result is a bit rustic, but no less delicious. 

In a mixing bowl, beat the two eggs. First the whites, then work in the yokes. Mix in the cream and sugar, and finally the spices. Lastly, stir in the pumpkin and set the whole mixture aside for a bit at room temperature. The ingridients need some time to mingle. 

Now pull that crust disk out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes before trying to roll it out. 

crust disk


While you’re rolling it out, think of pushing and pulling the crust into shape, rather than flattening it with all your pressure downward. Because it’s 100% whole wheat, you’ll have to flip it over a few times so that it doesn’t crumble apart. It won’t have the same elasticity as it would with white flour. And the end result might not be pretty, or a perfect circle, but you can fix it in the pan. 

rolled crust


Once you have the crust shaped out in the pan, put it back into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Stir your filling a bit in the meantime, and preheat the oven to 400. 

crust in pan


Now we’re going to give the crust some extra attention so it comes out crispy and flaky. If you fill it at this point, you’ll end up with a soggy crust. If you’re cool with that it’s no problem, and a lot less work. But a good pie really is all about the crust, so let’s talk about how to do that. 

Pull the crust out of the fridge, and line it with foil. Fill the pan to the rim with uncooked rice. This will keep the crust from shrinking away from the edges of the pan while we pre cook it. 

rice weighting down the crust


Place the rice loaded crust into the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil lining with the rice and set it aside. Poke some holes in the crust with a fork, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes. You can store the rice and cook it normally any time. It might even have a nice toasted flavor. 

Whisk 2 egg yolks in a bowl with a pinch of salt, and brush this mixture over the entire crust. Return it to the oven just long enough for the eggs to set. This will provide a moisture barrier between the filling and crust, preventing a soggy end result.

If you take your time and do all this right, you’ll end up with a flaky, crispy crust when everything has cooked and cooled. 

While the crust is still warm, pour in the filling, set the oven temp to 375, and drop the pie onto a rack in the middle of the oven.

into the oven


Cook it until the center of the filling barely jiggles when you shake the pie, about 40 min. Once it’s done, let it cool on a rack to room temperature. I like to let it sit for about 4 hours to really take shape and solidify. Then you can slice it up, admire it’s beauty and enjoy! Delicious. Zach

pie fresh from the oven