Three years ago when I took over the pie-making responsibility for the Florio Thanksgiving, I felt scared. Thanksgiving is such a special, family holiday that everyone looks forward to. It is the only day of the year (besides the days following with leftovers, of course) where we have the traditional pumpkin pie. The pressure gets to me! That may sound funny, but for almost 361 days (accounting for 3 days of pie leftovers) after Thanksgiving, there is no pumpkin pie. That is 361 days of waiting to get together with family, sit around the table, and laugh between bites of spiced, creamy pumpkin.
I wanted the recipe I created to be traditional with a twist. After 361 days, I want to avoid disappointment! I wanted homemade, crispy pie crust just like my parent’s parents make and creamy, pumpkin filling with tons of flavor. The filling for this pumpkin pie recipe is so easy to make. It’s BETTER than your favorite PSL. AND if you want to buy the crust GO FOR IT! We don’t all have a daughter making desserts for us. (This crust is my favorite option!) The filling doesn’t even need a mixer. All you need is a whisk.
Three years ago, I attempted to make a pie after searching on Pinterest for what felt like days. After SEVEN different attempts at a crust, not one pile of dough made it out alive. Thank God for the freezer section at Giant and so many Pillsbury backups! Last year, I tried again. Without the pressure & fear of messing up my mother’s kitchen, I made one pie crust. I felt proud, but this year had to be THE ONE.
It is true what they say: 1. Baking can be challenging & 2. Practice makes perfect, as does the willingness to learn. Now that you know this was a three-year struggle I promise you I CAN TEACH YOU HOW TO MAKE A PIE CRUST. Tip #1, figure out what works for you and DO IT. My grandmother’s grandmother may have used just butter, my mother’s aunt uses just shortening, and the traditions follow.
I found the recipe that is my “tradition.” It is the pie that is the same, but different. That is because I made it! What follows is a pie crust recipe that is straight out of The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook. (& I will probably stick to it forever). There is something about the pumpkin pies that I have had before– the crust never stays crispy on the bottom. With my recipe, we tackle that battle. One more thing. For some reason, Classic Pumpkin Pie brings with it an air of “only grandmas eat that!” All I have to say is, there is a reason the world of 2017 carries with a fall enveloped in Pumpkin Spice Everything.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Can be one serving, can be 8, can be 20. Depends on how you slice it, but let's be real, GRAB the pie & a fork & you're good.
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk beaten to blend room temperature
- 1 can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree (16oz)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Crust (America’s Test Kitchen Crust)
- 1 1/4 cups King Arthurs flour plus extra for rolling
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, chilled & cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
- 4 tbs vegetable shortening cut up into 2 pieces & chilled
- 2 tbs vodka, chilled (or any liquor, really)*
- 3 tbs water in ice, chilled
PUMPKIN PIE FILLING
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Whisk sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves & nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until no clumps remain.
- Add eggs, pumpkin, condensed milk & vanilla, & whisk until super smooth
- Pour into cooled crust
- Bake pie until edges are golden & puffed and the center is slightly wobbly. Start checking for doneness around 50 minutes. Let the pie cool for about 3 hours.
- Serve with tons of whipped cream!
- Cut butter into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut (or scoop) 4tbs vegetable shortening into 2-tablespoon pieces.. Place butter & shortening on a plate and put them both in the freezer.
- Place 2tbs water with ice into the freezer. Place 2 tbs vodka in the freezer.
- Process half flour, 1tbs sugar & salt in food processor. Pulse 4-5 times.
- Scatter chilled butter and shortening pieces into the processor. Pulse until combined (about 15-20 seconds)
- Use spatula to move around the blade. Add in remaining flour and pulse until clumping and evenly distributed.
- Transfer your mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the vodka & water over the mixture. Press & stir the dough together using a stiff spatula only until the dough starts to stick together when squeezed. You don’t want to overwork the dough!***
- Squeeze all your dough together, flatten it into about a 4 inch thick disk and wrap it tightly with Saran Wrap.
- Place in fridge to chill for up to 1 hour. You can freeze for up to 1 month, but allow to completely thaw before rolling.
- Preheat oven to 425°. Let dough sit for abut 10 minutes out of the fridge before rolling. This is to make sure the dough isn’t too stiff.
- Roll out your disc of dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lay the rolled out dough onto your pie dish. If needed, trim edges. Chill for 30 more minutes.
- Line dough with parchment paper or foil, leaving some overhang. Fill with pie weights, dried beans, or pennies. (Anything heavy that will bake in the oven!) Bake until crust just beginning to brown, 30 minutes.
- Brush with light egg wash, bake for about 10 more minutes.
- Remove foil & weights. Let crust cool entirely on wire wrack in pie dish.
- (If crust begins to brown or burn, pull out and lightly cover with tin foil or baking shields)
* The vodka seems strange, but it actually helps the dough from being too tough to roll out. The moment of truth for me is when I roll out the crust.
** Obviously the trend about crusts is KEEP IT CHILLED! When in doubt, put it in the fridge. We want this to work. Chilling everything ensures that we have flaky crust. Cold chunks of the fat in your dough are exactly what you want!
***Overworking the dough when you are clumping everything together is what makes the dough tough and difficult to roll out once it is time. As little water, as little touching as possible are key. There are a lot of steps, but this is actually a pretty quick process. Make all your dough ahead of time and thaw on the night before you are going to make it.
The pumpkin pie is inspired by Bon Appétit’s pumpkin pie recipe.