Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 28, 2010

Pain in the Parts Pumpkin Pie

I cannot tell a lie. The pumpkin pies we had at Thanksgiving were lovely. The pies were silky. The pumpkin was flavorful, and not at all ‘tinny’. The spices were low-key. The pumpkin pie with bourbon in it was subtly perfumed. The blind-baked crusts were sublime. And the whole thing was kind of a pain.

But don’t think that’s going to stop me from telling you how to go about making your own. And don’t even begin to imagine that I won’t be making them this way from now on. When I find a good recipe, I don’t care how much of a hassle it may be. I’m looking for results; when I get results, that’s what I go with.

Pumpkin Pie (with and without Bourbon)

1 Jarrahdale, pumpkin (minimum 6 pounds), or other ‘pie’ varietal–they’re those big grey, deeply ribbed numbers

2 TBSP oil

2 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar (or a total of 9 TBSP sugar + 1 tsp molasses for both kinds of sugar)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves or ground allspice

10 oz evaporated milk, or light cream

3 1/2 TBSP Bourbon (optional)

1/2 recipe pie pastry, chilled one hour

1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat your oven to 400°. Slice your pumpkin in half. Scoop out the goop and seeds. Oil the pumpkin half, inside and out. Put it face down on a rimmed baking sheet for about 1 1/2 hours in the oven. If your pumpkin is large, you may have to bake your halves in two shifts. When the pumpkin halves are cool enough, peel them. If you own a ricer or a food mill, use one  of those to process your pumpkin. If not, put the pumpkin through the food processor. Now set a large, mesh colander or strainer over a bowl and set your pumpkin puree in that. It will need to drain about 18-24 hours, if my Jarrahdale was anything to go by. This should make at least 4 cups of pumpkin puree–enough for two pies. If you’re not making two pumpkin pies, freeze half the puree flat in a zipper lock bag for later use.

You want your crust still hot when the pie filling goes in, so you’ll need to blind bake close to the time you want to bake off the whole thing. Preheat the oven to 400°. Roll out the dough, as instructed here. Set the dough in an 8″ pie plate. Flute the crust up tall all the way around. Use a large sheet of aluminum foil, carefully pressed to the bottom of the pastry, and lightly draped over the the crust at the top. Pour about a pound of dry beans or rice into the bottom of the crust. Bake for twenty minutes  and then five minutes more with the pie weights and foil removed.

Set the oven to 375°. Beat your eggs. Add the sugar, spices and pumpkin. Stir it all well together. Add the bourbon (though it could be rye or whiskey or Grand Marnier if you preferred), stirring all the while–if using. Now add the milk or cream. Brush the beaten egg yolk all around the pie shell–it will keep the filling from leaking out. Pour the filling into the shell and bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is set and only slightly quivery.

Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack, about three hours, before serving. This is great with whipped cream, or ice cream, or a fork all by itself.



  1. Aw, man! Now I have to do all of that?! I hate pumpkin goop. BTW the turkey was very good. I must confess I didn’t follow all of the instructions you gave, simply because I was so pressed for time, but I did most of it and the bird was quite tasty. I think the butter under the skin was especially helpful.

    • That butter under the skin thing seems to do the trick pretty consistently. We had good feedback on the bird here. No, you don’t have to do all that. But it’s the kind of thing the kids would love to ‘help’ with–and they’re sure to adore pumpkin goop.

  2. I find that after butchering and baking, if I roughly slice the cooked pumpkin and let it sit in a bowl with some drainage, it’s good to go into the processor after about 12 hours.

    And I can’t go back to powdered ginger after going to freshly grated ginger root in my pumpkin pies. But other than that, our methods look surprisingly similar.

    • I’ll go for fresh ginger next time, since I have more heirloom pumpkins in the cellar. I was surprised at how much liquid the Jardelle gave up. If it could be done draining in less time, I’d be all for it.

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