I have so many wonderful memories of Thanksgiving growing up. I remember how the air would be turning crisp, the leaves would be blushing a deep red before dropping to the earth, and of course, Monday would be a precious day off school. One year we went walking outside and gathered golden and red leaves to decorate the table with. Having lived abroad for so long, I rarely get homesick nowadays. However, if I do ever feel a pang of longing, it is usually around this time of the year, when the leaves have changed colour and summer has finally gone.
Of course, back at home, we would have the huge Thanksgiving meal with turkey and all the trimmings, but the real treat was always dessert. Pumpkin pie is a classic North American dessert. Although it is eaten all throughout
autumn fall, it is often considered the traditional way to end a gut-busting, belt-loosening Thanksgiving dinner. For most of my university years, I have largely ignored the holiday, glumly emailing or skyping with my family to see them enjoying our normal family festivities. However, the last two years I feel like I have celebrated Thanksgiving properly, with friends and (this year) family.
This weekend, we had a humongous Thanksgiving potluck with such delicious food! We ate a staggering amount of the mackerel pate (SO GOOD) and managed to put away an impressive amount of roast chicken (turkeys are hard to come by at this time of year in the UK), mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, stuffing, roast vegetables among other dishes. However, as this is a baking blog, special mention has to go out to Dave and his Canadian themed tiramisu and to Chris with his scrummy apple strudel. You’d think that with apple strudel and tiramisu we would have had the dessert side of the meal pretty well covered. Nope. Not us. I brought two pumpkin pies and I didn’t take home many leftovers!
The pie crust recipe is my Grandma’s recipe. She sent me a handwritten recipe that arrived on Friday – just in the nick of time to make the pies. I prefer to use butter instead of shortening, but each way is delicious. The secret ingredients is the 7Up (or any lemon/lime flavoured soft drink). Interestingly, it doesn’t make the pastry sweet and you could use this pie dough recipe for savoury recipes as well as sweet pies. Either way, it makes a delicious flaky dough that freezes well and is easy to work with.
The pumpkin pie recipe is adapted from a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com. It deviates from the traditional method of making pumpkin pie filling, which normally involves evaporated milk and white or brown sugar. The sweetened condensed milk worked well and it got the thumbs up from my mom, who is a pretty tough critic when it comes to pumpkin pie. I used the spices I had in my cupboard, but I’m sure you could substitute them for 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or modify the amounts to suit your individual taste.
adapted from Allrecipes.com
- 1 454g/15 oz can of pumpkin puree
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (I substituted cloves – that’s what I had in my cupboard)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 unbaked pie crust (1/4 of recipe below), chilled
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
- Whisk together the pumpkin puree and sweetened condensed milk until evenly mixed. Add the spices and salt and stir well. Add in the eggs and whisk again by hand until completely smooth.
- Roll out the pie crust on a clean and lightly floured surface. I discovered at this moment that despite the bags of baking equipment that I own, a rolling pin is not part of my collection. A wine bottle wrapped in cling film did the trick! To roll out the dough, begin by shaping the lump of dough into a round ball. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. If it starts to crack, try and press the edges together so it maintains a disc shape. Then roll it out evenly in all directions. The pie crust should be rolled out enough that there is an inch or two of overhang from the edge of the pie plate.
- To transfer the rolled out pie crust to the pie plate, fold it in half, then fold it again so you have a roughly triangularly shaped piece of dough. Gently lift up the pie crust and place it in the pie plate so that the point is in the centre of the dish. Carefully unfold the pie dough and press it into the pan. Trim any overhang and crimp the edges.
- Blind bake the pie crust (cover it with buttered baking parchment and use dried beans or rice to weight it down) for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are just turning golden. Blind baking the crust helps prevent a soggy bottom to your pie! Remove the parchment paper from the pie and set aside.
- Pour in the filling into the base. I had a bit of extra filling left over, however, if your pie dish is deep enough then you may use all of it. Keep in mind that the filling will puff up slightly as it bakes, so make sure the filling won’t overflow your crust.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350F/175C. Bake for another 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Let cool completely before serving. Best served with a dollop of whipped cream.
Grandma’s Pie Crust
Makes enough for 2 double crusted pies (or 4 single crust). I suggest making a full recipe and freezing the leftovers for future use.
- 1 lb butter/shortening, chilled and cubed
- 4 cups plain/all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 can of 7Up
- Cut the butter into the flour until only pea sized pieces remain.
- Crack the egg into a 1 cup (250 ml) measuring cup and lightly beat. Top up with 7Up until it is full. Let the foam subside.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork until the liquid is absorbed. You don’t want to mix too much otherwise the dough will be dough.
- Divide into two balls and wrap in saran wrap/cling film. Refrigerate overnight or at least for a few hours before rolling out. At this point the dough can be frozen for future use.