Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It's only 6 1/2 weeks away. I don't want everyone to panic or anything but the holidays are quickly approaching.
Now is the time to start thinking about Pumpkin Pie and whatever else you might serve on Turkey Day. You'll have turkey, of course and perhaps a side dish or two or three. If you are lucky, your guests will bring a dish to share. But you might not be hosting dinner and you may want to bring dessert to the gathering. Why don't you wow your family with a homemade pumpkin pie that utilizes local ingredients. I'm sure your family will be mightily impressed by your culinary skills.
I have the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving this year in our tiny little house where our 10-foot dining table barely fits in the dining room. My husband built the dining table when I couldn't find one that I actually liked. Now I have a rather large and heavy table (usually the backdrop of many food photos) that can seat about 12 comfortably. Although, I doubt we will have that many people this year. Our house can only accommodate about 8 people before you start to feel claustrophobic.
At any rate, even though I am not the biggest fan of pumpkin (yeah, I've explained this before), a good pumpkin pie is something to cherish. For this recipe, I sourced as much as I could locally -- pie pumpkin, honey, maple syrup, and eggs. You can look for other local ingredients like flour and cream if you so choose.
It all starts with the pumpkin. Instead of opening a can of pumpkin puree, I opted to use a fresh pie pumpkin that needed to be roasted first. I suggest doing this 1-2 days before making the pie. That way, any extra water or moisture in the pumpkin will leach out and you can pour it off.
Among my vast collection of cookie cutters, I have a few leaf and nut shapes. I decided to spruce up the pie with a decorative border. This is optional and you can just forego the decorative leaves and make a crimped border like you would with any other pie. If you want to use leaves, you need to make extra pie pastry (just double the pie pastry recipe).
Yield: 1 9-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Cut the stem off the pumpkin with a big sharp knife. Cut the pumpkin in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds and pulp around the seeds. Place flesh side down in a large baking dish or on a sheet pan. Cover with foil. Bake for 1-2 hours until the pumpkin is soft. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes before handling. The skin or rind of the pumpkin should come off easily as it cools; peel it off the flesh. Place the flesh in a bowl and refrigerate until cold. This can be done 1-2 days ahead of time.
When ready to use, scoop out what you need, leaving any extra water that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Using a food processor or hand blender, puree the cooked pumpkin until smooth.
My pumpkin was 3 pounds 14 oz and yielded about 3 3/4 cup cooked pumpkin. A 5 pound pie pumpkin might yield about 4 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin. One 15-ounce can of pumpkin is about 1 2/3 cup.
(double the recipe if you want to make leaf shapes)
In a food processor, finely grind the pecan pieces. Add both flours, sugar, and salt. Pulse for 10 seconds to mix. Add the butter; pulse for 15-30 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the water and honey. With the food processor running, pour in the water mixture. Pulse until dough begins to form. Place the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it slightly until to comes together in a ball. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Can be made 1-2 days ahead of time if kept under refrigeration or kept in the freezer for 1-2 months.
*Local eggs are not always graded by size. Large eggs typically weigh about 2 oz (54.4 g).
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Roll the pie pastry into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the pastry dough to the pie plate. Tuck the pastry into the pie plate and cut off the excess dough hanging over the sides leaving about 1 inch overhang. Roll the top of the crust under to create an edge and crimp decoratively (if doing the leaf design, skip the crimping part). Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place piece of foil on the crust, making sure it meets the sides. Fill with dried beans or rice, making sure they meet the sides of the pastry. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil and beans. The beans can be reused for future pies.
Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, cream, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Pour the mixture into the pie pastry. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the middle of the pie is just set (doesn't wiggle). Cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Serve with sweetened whipped cream (not Cool Whip... please oh please, do not serve with Cool Whip).
If making the leaf design, roll out the other pie pastry to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into leaf shapes. In a small bowl, make an egg wash with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the edge of the pie crust with the egg wash. Decoratively place the leaf and nut shapes all around the edge of the pie. Brush with egg wash. About half way through baking you may need to cover the edge of the pie with foil to prevent it from browning too much.