The Pumpkin Series: Pumpkin Pie No. 1

Pumpkin Pie No. 1

"For three pies; one quart milk, three cupfuls of boiled and strained pumpkin, one and one-half cupfuls of sugar, one-half cupful molasses, the yolks and whites of four eggs beaten separately, a little salt, one tablespoonful each of ginger and cinnamon.  Beat all together and bake with an under crust.  Boston Marrow or Hubbard Squash may be substituted for pumpkin and are much preferred by many as possessing a less strong flavor."

The White House Cookbook, 1894

So, though I tried to avoid typical pumpkin pie recipes through this whole pumpkin series, it seemed fitting that my final receipt would be the pumpkin pie we all know an recognize.  The "custard-base baked in a pie crust" type.  A fixture of Thanksgiving desserts.  And, for many, a dessert that you either love or hate.  My husband isn't a fan.  I'm not a fan either.  I feel like it works with LOTS of whip cream to make it palatable.

I could tell you that I chose this particular receipt because of a ton of recipe research and a lot of comparisons from other receipts, working it down to the one I thought was best to try.  But, honestly, I chose it because I recently got The White House Cookbook and wanted to try it, without looking at the hundreds of other versions I know exist.  But I'm really glad I just went for it.

With this pie receipt I decided use the Hubbard Squash, mainly because it is recommended to be used in the receipt. 

When I was processing it (cutting it in half/peeling/deseeding/cubing) I began to realize why this was a squash that is recommended for roasting.  The skin was VERY thick and hard.  Which would make it very good to be put directly in ashes and roasted without it falling apart.  But it certainly made for an interesting time with cutting it up, uncooked.  At least the flesh was not as slippery, as with other pumpkins, so it made for a more stable cutting surface. 

Though it was tough going, both literally and figuratively, I got through the whole process with only a sore wrist and several silent curse words because my son was playing nearby.  Then I stewed the pieces down, which was a lot easier and only took about an hour to simmer down.

I then strained it and let it cool down.  It was pleasantly smooth once sieved.  Once it cooled fully I put it in a container and kept it in the fridge till I was able to bake the pies a few days later.  It kept very well.

A few days later I assembled the milk, pumpkin, sugar, salt, eggs, molasses, cinnamon, and ginger I needed and defrosted the pie crusts.  I ended up cutting the ingredient amounts in half because I only had two pie crusts ready, and the receipt stated the full recipe would be enough for three pies.  

Once the eggs were beaten I added all the ingredients together in the same bowl and beat them till they were nice and airy.  And yes, the electric beater was my best friend for this.

Once the mixture was mixed properly I then poured the custard-like mixture into the two pie crusts.  I realized, at this point, it probably was a good thing I halved the receipt because it fit perfectly into the two crusts I had ready.

Then it went into the 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  And, a wonderful tip when you have pies filled with liquid that you want to get into an oven, put them on a cookie sheet.  Then the cookie sheet will catch the spilled liquid and not the bottom of the oven, where it will burn and set off the smoke alarm which will freak everyone out.  Not that I know this from personal experience... anyway...

When they came out I was surprised how shiny and set they were.  Much more like chocolate pudding than the typical pumpkin pie filling.   But the whole house smelled like pumpkin pie so I knew that I did something right!

But I wouldn't know how successful I was until I tried it.

The Verdict

So, once the pies were cool and my taste-testing husband was home, I decided to cut a few slices for us to try.  My husband was hesitant but said it smelled good.  I added my large dollop of whip cream, because why not!

We both took a bite and were very surprised.  It tasted NOTHING like pumpkin pie.

It was SO much better!!!  It, honestly, tasted like gingerbread! 

The texture was more like pudding, but was silky smooth.  The molasses and spices created this wonderful taste that reminded us both of gingerbread cookies, which we both love.  And the whip cream just made it that much better.  But whip cream makes anything better!

And my husband, the one who dislikes pumpkin pie, ate his whole piece and asked for another!

I also ended up serving it at Christmas for dessert and it was a hit with the family.  So I HIGHLY recommend it.  And it keeps well in the fridge or freezer.  I can't tell you how long it would last because both the pies were eaten pretty quickly.

Now, since making these pies, I will admit two possible mistakes I made with this receipt that I only noticed once everything was baked. 

The first, I had beat the eggs separate from the other ingredients before I added them all together and beat them again.  But, rereading the directions, I think what it meant was that the yolks and whites should have been separated and beaten separately before integrated with the rest of the ingredients.  This might have made an even more mouse like consistency rather than silky pudding texture I ended up with. 

The second is that I didn't half the spice measurements.  Everything else I did half the amount stated, but thinking back on it, I ended up putting a full tablespoon of cinnamon (possibly more) and ginger into the mixture.  But it didn't overwhelm anything, luckily.

Honestly, even with those mistakes, I would do it all over again the same way.  Sometimes mistakes work out and make it better.  Let's call those "happy mistakes"

And I think those "happy mistakes" made this pie a new holiday favorite!


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