Monday, October 8, 2012

Mystery Solved

I know a few of you have been guessing as to what I have up my sleeve this week. If you still want to fathom a guess before reading further, check out last week's entry and see if you can put your finger on just what I have been up to. 

Drum roll please... I made real Pumpkin Pie from real pie pumpkins!

Here is a little unknown fact to most American consumers who prepare "pumpkin pie" for their families every fall. That innocent looking can of 100% pureed pumpkin you pick up at the grocery store isn't pumpkin at all, it's actually Hubbard Squash. I know, call the authorities, we have been deceived! Why would manufacturers ever try to pull the wool over the eyes of the American consumer?! (*snickers*) Because this innocent switch helps to pad their pocketbooks. Hubbard squash has more flesh and less seeds and pulp than pumpkins, but has a similar taste profile, so with a little refinement these companies can product more cans of pumpkin puree without much fuss. Now, that begs the question, is this really a reason to boycott canned impostor "pumpkin" pies forever? I think not, especially since pumpkin pie in any form is still my favorite pie ever. I just choose to look the other way while cutting myself a slice and rejoice in the fact instead that it is fall and I can settle in with my delicacy and a cup of tea.

So this past week, I set out to make a real, honest to goodness pumpkin pie. I found the process labor intensive but incredibly rewarding, and completely worth it. There is something deeply satisfying, as least for me, in making something COMPLETELY from scratch - from the ground up if you will. And as an added bonus, I roasted the seeds and have been snacking on them ever since, in addition to adding them to my oatmeal, topping my morning yogurt, and mixing into a recent muffin mix.

Organic pie pumpkins from Jungle Jim's
I made a homemade pecan crust, with plenty of salt to contrast the sublte sweetness in the pie custard. Speaking of which, the authentic pumpkin puree is much more savory, almost nutty in flavor when compared to its canned counterpart and, not wanting to lose that uniqueness, I kept the filling simple, unadulterated, true to its origins. I couldn't have been happier with how it turned out, and I will be making another one today actually.

 I meant to take a picture of the pie right after I took it out of the oven, before I stuck a fork in it, but alas, I have no self control. But how could I resist? Topped with a maple whipped cream, I was in fall heaven.
Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Graham Cracker crust and Maple Whipped Cream
I hope this blog has inspired you to at least consider picking up a pie pumpkin and going all homemade with your fall pie... or at least appreciate the adorable little pie pumpkins a little more.

Pumpkin Pie
* I made this custard filling by sight and taste, and thus didn't measure anything exactly. I recommend you do the same, as every pie pumpkin will be a little different.

1 1/2 cup real pumpkin puree (flesh from two small pie pumpkins)
1/2 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
splash milk or cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger (optional)
3 tablespoons flour
Puree pumpkin in a food process so it is incredibly smooth and silky. Transfer to the bowl of your mixer and add the sugar, milk, and eggs. Mix on medium speed until incorporated, whipping in a little air to lighten the custard. Add the seasonings; mix. Add the flour one tablespoon at a time, just looking for the custard to come together and slightly thicken. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
2 tsp kosher salt
Mix the nuts, crumbs, and salt with the melted butter and press into an ungreased pie pan. Par bake this crust at 350 degrees until slightly set up, about 25 minutes. Pour in your custard filling and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until custard is set. Allow to cool (if you can wait that long) and top with whipped cream or chutney.

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