08 October 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Battle of the Pumpkin Pies!

Confession: our family isn't big on Thanksgiving.

Don't get me wrong: we love a three-day weekend as much as the next guy. We just don't celebrate like most people do, which is to say: at all. It's a good excuse to go apple picking in the local orchard, and to hike a conservation trail, but for us, that's about the extent of it. We save our turkey time for Christmas.

However, I know that many of you out there DO celebrate and since October is all-about-pumpkin month, what's better than a pumpkin pie recipe just in time for you to cook dinner for 20?

I'll tell you what: THE BEST PUMPKIN PIE RECIPE EVAH, COOKED TWO WAYS!!

What-the-whaaaat?!

That's right: it's a BAKE-OFF, because two pies are always better than one.

The premise is this:

WHAT MAKES THE BEST PIE:
tinned pumpkin or fresh?

Do you know the answer? Neither did I, so naturally I got my Stinson on: Challenge Accepted!


TRADITIONAL PUMPKIN PIE
Preparation: (5 +) 15 + 10 minutes | Cooking Time: (40 +) 15 + 60-70 minutes | Serves: 8

Ingredients:
  • 1 sugar (pie) pumpkin
  • cooking spray
       
  • 1 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh or tinned)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used 18% table cream)
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used skim)
        
  • frozen or freshly made pie crust, pre-baked

Cooking Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
       
  2. Slice the stem from the pumpkin, then slice pumpkin in half. Scoop out the pulp and seeds.
       
  3. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the pumpkin halves cut-side down on the pan, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Turn the pumpkins cut-side up (skin-side down) and continue baking another 30-40 minutes or until flesh is very, very tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
       
  4. Scoop pumpkin flesh from skins. Puree in a food processor until smooth if the cooked pumpkin feels or appears very stringy. Set aside until completely cooled.
       
  5. If using fresh pumpkin, lower oven heat to 375 degrees.
     
    If using tinned pumpkin, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
     
    Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes.
     
    This recipe produces way more filling than your standard 9-inch prepared pie crust can handle, even the deep dish variety. Because I'm not really a baker, I have no confidence in my ability to make pastry, so I cheat:

    I defrost both Tenderflake deep dish pie shells in a box. Flour the counter, then remove one pie crust from the tin and lay it out flat. Cut it in four and separate the pieces by one inch or so.

    Lay the second pie shell in the centre of the first. Then, flour a rolling pin [or, if you're like me and don't own a rolling pin, flour a smooth, clean bottle; I used a new bottle of balsamic vinegar] and roll it across the pastry to blend the two shells/spread it out to a larger diameter. If it breaks, don't worry. Simply piece it together where you have holes and roll again gently. (The pastry, I mean. If the bottles breaks, you have a bigger problem. And probably need to start over.)

    Lift the expanded crust from the counter and place it in a deep 10-inch pie plate. Mould the crust along the edges with your fingers and close any breaks or holes, and Bob's your uncle! Perfectly sized pie crust.

       
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients (brown sugar through cloves). Whisk to combine.
      
  7. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining four ingredients (pumpkin through milk). Whisk to combine, then pour into the dry mixture. Whisk thoroughly.
      
  8. Remove pie shells from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Pour mixture into shell.
      
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 60-75 minutes, until the centre is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pumpkin pie is my absolute favourite kind of pie, so I've eaten a lot of it over the years. Like, a LOT. I consider myself to be not just a connoisseur, but sort of an expert (self-appointed, sure, but an expert nonetheless.)

And after all those holidays with all those pies, I can confidently say this Williams-Sonoma recipe is one of the best I've ever come across. Sweet but not cloying, spicy but not overpowering, this pie is 'classic' in every sense of the word, and it's a permanent fixture on our holiday menus.

But the BAKE-OFF! Was the question of which makes a better pie, tinned pumpkin or fresh, ever answered?
 
Yeah, that's right: two photos. Showing off the awsmazing burnt crust of one pie that got slopped on in an "incident". Otherwise, it was freaking delicious.

 
In this house it sure was. While both pies were tasty (because let's be real: much like pizza, no pie is ever really a bad pie), the votes are in. Interestingly, the votes were split along gender lines, with fresh pumpkin pulling out the win 3-2! Woot!!

For those of you playing along at home, did you guess the winner? There's a prize if you did! (note: Just kidding. There's no prize. But I am very impressed!)

So tell me, what's your all-time favourite holiday dessert recipe?

Notes: vegetarian | desserts

Original recipe from Williams-Sonoma