When Beja was in first grade, she brought home a little sugar pumpkin from class, a party favor from her classroom Halloween party. I remember telling her it was the type of pumpkin you can use to make pumpkin pie. She thought I was joking, and the realization settled in…why would she believe me? Every year I pick up my pie from Costco. Even though she was right to disbelieve, it rubbed me the wrong way. There was a disconnect between the food, basic kitchen skills, and American tradition, and right then I made up my mind to change it. That was the year that I started to make Pumpkin Pie.
Here’s how you make the pies. Start with two sugar pumpkins. Also called, baking pumpkins or pie pumpkins, these pumpkins are smaller and have a higher sugar content. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the strings as you can, then roast them at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half.
While the pumpkins are cooking, make the pie crust. To keep it nice and flaky, use shortening instead of butter. I like using butter-flavored shortening.
Add water, vinegar, salt, and a beaten egg and you have pie crust. Mix it together and when it is combined, knead the dough and separate into two balls.
You can roll it out at this time and set it in the pie plates. Chill it until you are ready to fill it.
When the pumpkins are finished roasting, let them cool, then scoop out the flesh and mix it with the canned pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, seasonings and eggs. Use an electric blender to combine it all together. The filling should be the same consistency as pudding.
At this point, turn the oven on to 400 degrees. Take the pie crusts out of the freezer and let thaw for about 15-20 minutes. Fold the pie filling into each pie crust evenly, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until firm. Cool and serve.
I used whole wheat flour, so my crusts came out a little darker than you would normally see if using regular all-purpose flour. I don’t have a lot of patience for crimping the edges of the crust, so my pies are a little “rustic.”
It may look a little rough around the edges, but the flavor is amazing. It has loads of pumpkin flavor, coupled with the seasonings and spices you’ve adjusted to your liking and you’ve got yourself a homemade pumpkin pie, customized to your taste. The texture is lighter, fluffier and more custard-like than store-bought pies.
Since the crust doesn’t have sugar, and not a lot of brown sugar is used in the filling, this pie is not as sweet as store-bought. This is fine by me since I like having it with a bit of whipped cream and a bit of vanilla ice cream.
I’m not saying that I won’t ever buy another Costco pumpkin pie…far from it! But knowing how to make a pumpkin pie from scratch and sharing it with friends and family is a nice little tradition for the holidays.
- PIE CRUST
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable shortening)
- 1 whole egg
- 5 tablespoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- PIE FILLING
- 2 pie pumpkin (also called "sugar pumpkin"); about 2 cups when cooked
- 1 15 oz pumpkin, canned
- 1 13 oz can coconut milk
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp each: vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, salt
- ½ tsp each: ground cardamom, ground clove, ground ginger
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash pumpkin, cut in half, and remove stem, seeds, and strings.
- Place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake until tender, about 1½ hours.
- Meanwhile, make/prepare the crust. Place flour and vegetable shortening in a large bowl, and using a pastry cutter, work in the the vegetable shortening into the flour for about 3 minutes, or until it resembles course meal.
- In a separate small bowl, beat an egg, then pour into the flour mixture. Add the water, vinegar, and salt and combine with a large spoon until the dough is thick.
- Using your hands, knead the dough a bit and separate into two separate crusts.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough starting at center and working your way out. If it is too moist, sprinkle a little more flour on top. Use a metal spatula to remove the dough from the surface area if it starts to stick. Roll until the dough is about ½ in larger in diameter than your pie pan.
- With the spatula, gently lift the dough carefully from the surface into the pan. Press the crust gently into the pan and for the edges, lift and tuck under. Pinch to shape.
- Repeat the process for the second pie, then cover both tightly with plastic wrap and put in the freezer to chill.
- When the pumpkins are done, remove and let cool. Change the temperature on the oven to 400 degrees.
- When pumpkins are cooled, take out the pie crusts to defrost for a bit (about 15 minutes), while you make the pie filling. Using a spoon, scoop out all the pumpkin from the skin. Mix until smooth.
- Add the canned pumpkin, coconut milk, brown sugar, seasonings. Taste and adjust as you like.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and fold in, then using an electric mixer, beat together for a minute or so until well combined.
- Pour pie filling equally into the crusts and bake for 35-40 minutes or until firm.
- Cool before slicing.