I can’t think of anything more beautiful than nature’s change of colors from one season to the next. Leaves are now turning from summer’s lush greens to fall’s fiery oranges, yellows and reds. And what usually comes to mind at this time of the year is pie—all kinds of pie. So here’s a delicious, fragrant and “easy as pie” pumpkin pie that blends perfectly with the colors of fall, and will fit right in on any Thanksgiving table.
And what is it about pie in all its simple homeliness that men love so much? I can spend a lot of time baking and decorating a cake only to garner a response from the hubby along the lines of, “Oh, that’s nice (yawns). So when are you going to bake a pie”? I don’t think men react the same way to cake as women do, at least he doesn’t. In a nutshell, I bake cakes to amuse myself and bake pies to please my other half.
I ended up baking two pumpkin pies in a row because the first was such a hit. This is pie number one. I used the same recipe for both pies, the only difference being that I cooled off pie number one outdoors in the open air on a very chilly, breezy day, when the temperature was about 45°F.
This is pie number two. I cooled it off indoors; the temperature was warm at about 72°F.
Pie dough can be made either with a pastry blender or a food processor. This pie dough was made by hand using a pastry blender. It was easier to stop and take pictures to show the various stages than if I had used a food processor, where you go from one stage to the next in a matter of seconds. My earlier apple pie tutorial also has photos on how to make a pie, but here are the steps again for easy reference.
- Place the flour, salt, shortening and butter in a large mixing bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender.
- Once the shortening and butter are evenly distributed, the mixture will look like crumbs with the largest particles about the size of small peas.
- Start adding cold water one tablespoon at a time. Mix right away with a fork or silicon spatula so the water is evenly distributed. The mixture will gradually start to clump and bind.
- As more water is added, the mixture will get even more cohesive and start to have a clay-like texture.
- Take the dampened portions in your hands and shape them into a ball. Separate the ball from the portions that are still dry and crumbly. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, only to the dry and crumbly portions.
- The dough ball gets bigger as more dampened dough is added onto it while the loose particles get fewer. Add just a little more water to the dry portion.
- Finally, all the particles are damp enough to make a cohesive dough ball.
- Wrap the pie dough tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes. It can also be chilled overnight and rolled the next day.
Notes: 7 – 8 tablespoons of cold water is my guideline. This may vary depending on the weather. I find that on warm days, the dough will bind with fewer than 7 tablespoons. On cold days, I need more than 8 tablespoons. There is really no fixed number of tablespoons, just keep adding water only until the dough can form a ball, and no more. Making the pie dough by hand will take about 15 minutes; if using a food processor, it will take more or less 5 minutes.
Using a food processor. The pie dough can also be made using a food processor. Place the flour and salt in the food processor bowl and pulse for 1 or 2 seconds. Add shortening and butter and pulse again for a few seconds, just until the shortening and butter are evenly distributed and the largest particles are about the size of small peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time and pulse about 2 seconds after each addition. Pulse just until the pastry forms a ball. Use only enough water to form a ball. Do not over mix as this will result in a tough crust. Wrap the pie dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.
Ingredients for the pumpkin filling
I used 365 brand Pumpkin Puree, which is Whole Foods’ generic brand. I was struck by the deep, gorgeous orange color of their pureed pumpkin. Any brand will work, just be sure to get plain pumpkin and not flavored pumpkin pie filling. Basically, just place the pureed pumpkin in a bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients. Whisk until smooth and well blended. Making the pumpkin filling will take no more than 5 minutes—max. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill.
- Before rolling the pie dough, preheat oven to 425°F. Slice the chilled dough in half using a sharp knife. Use only one half of the dough. Wrap and chill the other half for another delicious recipe such as this earlier pecan pie.
- Sprinkle workspace and rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking. Flatten the dough into a disc with the palm of your hand.
- With the rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle large enough to cover your pie plate.
- Drape the dough onto rolling pin and transfer onto pie plate.
- Gently and lightly press the dough onto bottom and sides of the pie plate.
- Use a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to trim the excess dough around the edges.
- Crimp the edges pushing the dough with your right forefinger against the left hand’s thumb and forefinger. Or another option is to press the tines of a fork against the edges to make a pattern.
- The pie shell is ready to be filled. Rolling the pie dough takes about 15 minutes.
And here are the two main components, the pumpkin filling and the pie plate lined with pie pastry.
Pour the pumpkin filling into the prepared pie shell. Immediately place the pie in an oven that has been preheated to 425°F. You want the pie dough to bake and seal right away against the moisture of the filling, so do not delay. As soon as the filling is poured in the pie shell, straight into the oven it should go. Let the pie bake for 15 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes or until filling is set.
This is an optional step. You can either add the excess pastry that was trimmed off of the edges of the pie plate to the other half of the dough for later use, or reroll it and cut out shapes to garnish the pie. I used a leaf cookie cutter to cut out the shapes. Then I pressed the edge of a toothpick onto the leaves to add a little bit of texture. Place the cutouts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Here’s the pie right out of the oven filling the house with a wonderful fragrance. The pie will mound in the center but will level off once it starts to cool down. If using pastry cutouts to garnish, now is the time to place them in the oven. Once the pie is removed from the oven, reduce the temperature to 325°F then bake the cutouts for about 15 – 17 minutes. Alternatively, once the pie is completely cool, you can also garnish it with whipped cream or just serve it plain.
As soon as the cutouts are done, remove them from the oven and arrange them on the pie even while both cutouts and pie are still hot. Use a spatula to handle the cutouts. Allow the pie to cool completely, at least 1 to 2 hours, before slicing.
- 1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree (not flavored pumpkin filling)
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup shortening
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 7 – 8 tablespoons cold water
- Prepare pie crust first by mixing flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the shortening and butter into the flour using a pastry blender. Use butter cold, straight out of the fridge.
- The mixture is ready when the shortening and butter are evenly distributed throughout the flour.
- Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time to moisten the flour mixture. Use a fork or silicon spatula to mix. Use only enough water to form a ball. If the mixture is still dry after 8 tablespoons, continue adding cold water 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough comes together to form a ball.
- Wrap the pie dough in plastic wrap and chill for a few minutes while making the filling. If making the pie dough ahead of time, store the wrapped pie pastry in an airtight container before storing in refrigerator.
- If using a food processor, mix flour and salt in food processor bowl. Add shortening and butter and pulse for a few seconds, just until the shortening and butter are evenly distributed and the largest particles are the size of small peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time and pulse about 2 seconds after each addition. Once all the water is added, pulse until the pastry forms a ball. Use only enough water to form a ball. Do not over mix as this will result in a tough crust. See step 4 above for chilling and storing pie dough.
- Place all ingredients, pureed pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Mix together with a wire whisk until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill while rolling out pie dough.
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Slice the chilled pie dough in half using a sharp knife. Store one half of the dough for later use or another recipe. Lightly sprinkle flour on workspace and rolling pin to prevent sticking. Flatten the dough into a round disc. If necessary, lightly sprinkle dough with flour.
- Roll the dough to a circle large enough to cover an 8-inch or 9-inch pie plate. Drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer over to the pie plate.
- Gently press the dough against the sides and bottom of the pie plate. Trim any excess around the edges. If desired, the excess dough can be re-rolled and cut out into different shapes to decorate the pie after it is baked.
- Crimp the edges of the pie dough or press the tines of a fork around the edges to make a pattern.
- Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie dough. Bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes or until filling is firm and set.
- Remove from oven and allow pie to cool completely before slicing.
- While pie is cooling, if using excess pie dough as garnish, place cutouts on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 325° F for 15 – 17 minutes or just until lightly browned. Remove pastry cut outs from cookie sheet while still warm and garnish the pie immediately.
- Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.
- Store pie in refrigerator in an airtight container.
Easy as Pie Pumpkin Pie