Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch… or to be more exact; the misadventures in pie making

I know I should be far more creative than using pumpkin for my squash entry, but this is the first time I ever made a pumpkin pie from scratch.
I bought several sugar pumpkins last month and had to get them in the freezer.  Right away I knew I would put aside some of the pumpkin to make a pie for Thanksgiving.  There are several methods of storing sugar pumpkins but I prefer to steam them and then freeze.  While I'm sure there are some raw methods out there, most of the pumpkin recipes I have ask for cooked pumpkin so its easier for me to store them this way.  Now I have used the good old jack O’lantern pumpkins before and used the same method of storing but I heard that sugar pumpkins were the way to go so jumped on them when I finally saw some in our store.  Sugar pumpkins are much smaller and the flavor is more intense than what you would get from the typical Halloween jack O'lanterns (big pumpkins!) I've never had a problem using the big pumpkins in cooking before but I suggest you read up on the two differences before you make your own decision.
First you need to cut them and remove the seeds and pulp.  I then just put the pi002eces (flesh still on) into a glass baking pan, add a bit of water and cover with Saran Wrap.  Into the microwave it goes to steam for about ten minutes.  I take the pan out and let the pumpkin cool.  Now its easy to pull away from the flesh (no peeling needed!).  I do a bit of pureeing and place into ziplock bags putting in 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree into each bag.
004When using fresh pumpkin, you must drain the puree through some cheese cloth to eliminate the liquid.  All you want to have is the meat of the pumpkin.  I find it    easier to drain over a bowl and refrigerate over night.008
Use your favorite pastry for a 9-inch pie.  My mom swears by the Betty Crocker pastry and so we’ve used that recipe for years.  
Crust for 9-inch pie
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water     
Directions: Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
Roll pastry, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate, or 3 inches larger than 10- or 11-inch tart pan. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.
Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Continue with directions in pie recipe.
Pumpkin Filling for 9-inch pie
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon  salt        
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
                       1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) or use 1 1/2 cups prepared pumpkin
 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
      Directions: Heat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, beat eggs slightly with wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, the cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ginger, cloves, pumpkin and milk.  Carefully pour pumpkin filling into pie plate. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake about 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Place pie on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
Pumpkin Patch                                                          Now all things considered, what should turn out is an amazing pumpkin pie.  Without a doubt ours did… however, the pie pan was placed on a stove top burner to cool.  We honestly thought the burner was off… really, we did.  My stove is possessed- really, it is possessed!  There is no other explanation as to why it is so evil.  The next morning we awoke to this…. Pumpkin jerky…. nasty.  Don’t recommend it to any one! LOL!!!                     

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