A few years ago, I discovered the life-changing miracle of using real pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. Not pumpkin-pie filling from a can but real pumpkin. The difference is astonishing. With real pumpkin, the pie’s color, flavor and texture is 10 times better than with the canned stuff. And I’m going be honest with you, I always thought the canned stuff was pretty good. It takes no time at all to do.
Buy a pie pumpkin – the smallish ones usually found in big bins outside of grocery stores.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Cut the pie pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and innards.
Lay the pumpkin halves cut-sides down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until they are soft when pierced with a fork).
Once the cooked pumpkin cools a bit, flip it over and scrape the flesh into a bowl. One small pumpkin will yield around 3 cups, which is plenty for one pumpkin pie.
Puree the pumpkin using either a traditional or stick blender.
Because pumpkin is actually pretty watery, put all of the puree into a piece of cheesecloth or a strainer over a bowl and let it drain for a few hours.
Now all you have to do is use it in place of canned pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Don’t have a favorite recipe? Don’t you worry one bit about that. I have one for you.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
1 homemade crust
Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Add the sugars, salt, spices and lemon zest into a bowl and mix.
Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl.
Now add your homemade pumpkin puree! Mix well.
Add the can of evaporated milk to the rest of the ingredients and mix well again.
Roll out your favorite homemade pie crust and line your pie plate with the dough. Fill with pumpkin pie filling.
Bake the pie at 425°F for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350°F and bake an additional 40 – 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out fairly clean. (If you wait until the knife comes out perfectly clean, the pie will be overdone.)
Cool the pie on a wire rack for a couple of hours to allow it to set completely. (Or at least until it’s mostly set and no longer hot enough to burn your mouth.)
Want to make this pumpkin pie even better? Top it with whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar. Yeah, I know — it just keeps getting better and better.
Karen Bertelsen is a Gemini Award nominated television host who has appeared on some of Canada's major networks including HGTV, W Network, Slice and MuchMoreMusic. She started the blog The Art of Doing Stuff (www.theartofdoingstuff.com) as a creative outlet for her writing and endless home projects. The Art of Doing Stuff now receives over half a million views per month and has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Style at Home and Canadian Gardening magazines.