Friday, 21 November 2014

Vanilla Bean Pumpkin Pie

I needed to bake and freeze one of my Thanksgiving intended pies last night, so I'd have to time bake the other pie, freeze it, and move on to the more involved courses that would have to be made close to or the day of. However, I also had a marathon training run and some important news coming that I needed to be present (via phone) for, so I had a lot to fit in to the after-work hours, hence, my decision to make a pumpkin pie using canned pumpkin purée.

Sacrilege! I know but in my defense, I've done the 'from scratch' version for the past eight years and while I think it tastes great, I didn't have the extra hour required. I DID add half a vanilla bean to even the score though.

For those who feel cheated and still want to tackle a whole pumpkin, stay with me. Everyone else, skip ahead to the next section.

Ok, so cooking a pumpkin is super easy. Buy a medium sized, bright orange pumpkin, otherwise known as a 'sugar pumpkin,' which is the type you cook with. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and cut the pumpkin in half, bi-secting the two hemispheres (don't cut towards the stem or bottom). Scoop out the seeds and place both halves, cut side down, on an aliminum foil lined pan, basting the skin in olive oil. Place in the oven and cook for an hour. Once done, the skin should appear blistered and come off easily when pulled with a fork. Let cool and use a fork to peel off the skin. Then purée the pumpkin and move to the next step.

Everybody Else!

Crust first: mix AP flour, salt, and sugar in a small to medium mixing bowl. Cut in cold butter (I explain how to do this in the scone recipe) until reduced to pea-sized crumbles. Add 2-3 tbsp water and, using your hand, knead the water into the loose mix, adding water as necessary until the dough sticks to itself in one, big lump. Place on a lightly floured baking mat or non-stick surface and roll out into a circle, about 1/3rd of an inch in thickness.

Now you need to get the dough into the pie pan without tearing it. The easiest way to do this is to place your rolling pin at one end of the dough and slowly roll it up, around the rolling pin. Place the the rolling pin at one edge of the pie tin and slowly unroll the dough over the tin. Adjust as needed and cut off the excess with a knife, working your way around the pan. 

From here you can create whatever pattern you prefer on the crust's edge. My go-to is a traditional pinched edge, jazzed up with leaves cut from the extra dough. 

If you want to add some 'flare' to your pie, roll the cut off dough out a bit thinner and cut designs out with the knife. Place these on a plate to be egg-washed when you egg-wash the crust.

Egg-washed cut outs, pre-baking
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let's move on to the filling!

Pie filling: Place the puréed pumpkin in a medium size mixing bowl, adding your beaten eggs, evaporated milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and the seeds from half a vanilla bean (see tutorial on how to do that here). Mix until combined thoroughly and place aside.

Use a beaten egg to wash your crust's rim and any decorative dough pieces. Pour the batter into the prepared pie crust and gently place desired dough cutouts on top of the batter. Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. When the filling is set, the pie is done - a knife inserted into the filling should come out semi-clean and don't worry if a crack or two appear in the surface - that's normal.

This has a stronger hint of cinnamon than a standard pumpkin pie, countered by the light, floral notes of the vanilla bean. For those looking for a slight twist on the classic, try this!


- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp butter, cold
- 3-5 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

- 3 eggs
- 2 c pumpkin puree 
- 1/2 c evaporated milk (heavy cream will work too)
- 1/2 c light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 vanilla bean

- 1 standard pie tin

Makes 1 pie
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
45-55 minutes 

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