Posted by: The Arcadian | November 14, 2011

Pumpkin Pies – that taste good even though they aren’t perfect

I made this last week for the annual Thanksgiving family night dinner at my church. In preparation, I looked through several of my recipe books for a good one.

They all had the basic same ingredients except for one, which actually called for canned candied yams. Yep. Candied yams, which a good Ag woman knows that a yam is really just a sweet potato. Real Yams are imported from the Caribbean or Africa.

I’m a big fan of Cook’s Illustrated. It is by far one of the best producers of recipes in the U.S. They have new recipes but they also reexamine old favorites to get the best version of, say chocolate brownies. They definitely have a flog-it-to-death approach when it comes to research and trials and tasting. These magazines and cookbooks aren’t cheap but they don’t have any paid-for promotions, product endorsements or advertising.

Cook's Illustrated rocks!

I was feeling very sassy and took their recipe and deviated from it. (This is a big-time no-no. Baking is a science but it’s also an art—so until you get a feel for what you are doing, stick with the recipe.)

Pumpkin pie ingredients.

2 C. cream (you can use half n half)

3 Large eggs + 2 egg yolks (you will need a total of 5 eggs)

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 Can or (15 oz pumpkin puree)

1 Can candied yams (15 oz.)

¾ C. sugar

¼ C. Maple syrup

2 tsp. Grated fresh ginger

½ tsp Ground cinnamon

¼ tsp Ground fresh nutmeg

1 tsp Salt (use table salt)

1 Pie crust (see Never Fail Pie Crust or you can use the refrigerated, pre-made dough)

  1. You have to bake your crust a little before you put the filling in. Use pie weights or you can do what I did and line the pie crust with foil and throw a few pennies in as weights. Bake pie crust in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. After the crust bakes for a 15 min, remove the foil and weights then place pie shell back in the oven to cook for 10 more minutes. Remove crust from oven when it just starts to brown.

    No pie weights, no problem. Lots of cookware is made from copper, so why no pie weights?.

  2. Whisk cream, vanilla, eggs and yolks and set aside. While your crust is baking, make the filling. Combine the pumpkin, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a pot. Heat it until it gets to a sputtering simmer. Continue to let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Mash it with a potato masher (or a fork). Stir constantly for another 5-10 minutes.

    Pumpkin, yams (aka sweet potatoes), sugar, syrup, spices.

    Keep stirring until it's done. It will get all creamy, sticky and thick.

  3. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Then add the cream mixture and whisk together.

    Let it cool before you add the cream and egg mixture. You don't want eggs to scramble.

    Whisk together cream mixture and pumpkin mixture.

  4. Strain mixture thru a fine mesh strainer. Use a rubber spatula to push solids through to make a smooth, creaming liquid. When all the solids thru you can, give it one more stir then pour into the pie shell.

    Mr. Potato head helped me strain the solids thru a sieve.

  5. Pour into the warm pie crust. Place in the hot oven (400 degrees) and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and finish baking for 25 to 30 more minutes. When the center is set (or the instant thermometer reads 175 degrees), remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for 2-3 hours until custard set.

Nearly perfect pumpkin pie -- just put a dollop of whipped cream on that little hickey.

Tah-dah … And there you have a pumpkin pie that tastes good even though it’s not perfect.

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