|Sugar "Pie" Pumpkins|
Pumpkin Pie HistoryRecipes for pumpkins cooked with sugar, spices and cream wrapped in pastry trace their roots to European cuisine. The Columbian Exchange [16th century] shipped the "old world" foods found in the "new world" (the Americas). These new foods (pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, corn etc.) were incorporated into traditional cuisines. Pumpkins were similar to "old world" squash and superior in flavor. They were also just as easy to grow and as such, were quickly popular. They were even made into pies if you were lucky enough to be in a household that could afford the expensive ingredients (sugar and spices) and equipment (sieves, ovens, etc.) that were used to make pies. The ‘less fortunate’ generally just cut off the top, cleaned out the insides and filled it with other fruits, then placed it in hot embers to slowly roast much like the native American Indians. This was probably equally good but certainly not a ‘finely prepared’ dish in the classic French tradition. In 1651 the famous French chef and author published “Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois” (The True French Cook) that contained his recipe for pompion (French for pumpkin) tourte. It was translated and published in England as The French Cook in 1653. It contains what is thought to be the first published recipe for a pumpkin pie that included the pastry:
Tourte of pumpkin - Boile it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds; let all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste; bake it. After it is baked, besprinkle it with sugar and serve.But was pumpkin pie served at the first American Thanksgiving? Historians believe that the earliest American settlers (Plimoth Plantation 1620-1692) might have made pumpkin by stewing or by filling a hollowed out shell with milk, honey and spices, and then baking it in hot ashes similar to their ‘less fortunate’ European counterparts and techniques learned from the Indians. Ovens to bake pies were not available in the colony at that time. About 50 years after the first Thanksgiving in America they likely ate what we think of as pumpkin pie.
|From Steamed Fresh Pumpkin|
Pompkin Pudding No. 1. One quart stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross Pompkin Pudding No. 2. One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.
Fresh Pumpkin Pie – Libby’s vs. Homemade?In a recent small survey I found that only 25% of people had ever tasted a truly fresh pumpkin pie that started with making the pumpkin puree. Everyone else reported only have ever tasted Libby’s pumpkin puree from the can.
|Fresh Pumpkin Puree from Steamed Pumpkin|
So this year I decided to prepare my fall pumpkin desserts from fresh pumpkin. The question before me was, what’s the best method to cook pumpkins for puree? Over at PickYourOwn.org, probably the most popular site for this topic, they give guidance in that any of the usual methods will yield good results. These are steaming, boiling, roasting and microwaving. I tried all of them and while they all do cook the pumpkin, there is a definite preferred method that yielded the most favorable results with the best texture: roasting. Once you make this puree, you can freeze it in containers or zippered storage bags and use it in all baking recipes where it calls for pumpkin puree.
Making Pumpkin PureePurchase small pie pumpkins (sometimes called sugar pumpkins). One 2-3 pound pumpkin will provide sufficient puree for one deep dish pie. A five pound pumpkin is sufficient for two standard pies. Pie pumpkins are the modern baking pumpkin. The skin is more thin, the flesh is sweeter and dryer, and they have a substantially finer grain than a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin, which were bred for thick rinds and stability when carved.
Preheat your oven to 400F degrees. Wash the outsides and slice off the top leaving as much pumpkin as possible. Cut the pumpkin in half as shown. Using a heavy ice cream scoop, scrape out the seeds and strings leaving the lighter orange flesh intact with the shell. (You may wish to save the seeds for later roasting.) Lightly oil the pumpkins on all sides and sprinkle with a little powdered cinnamon. Using a baking sheet or dish with sides, cover it in foil and spray with food release or some additional oil. Add water until it is approximately one quarter of an inch deep. Place the pumpkins cut side down onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for one hour, until the pumpkins are tender and the shells beginning to brown. Prepare the pie crust while the pumpkin is roasting.
|Pumpkins and Acorn Squash Roasting|
|Skin Peels Off by Hand|
|Pureed with a Stick Blender|
|Winner - Roasted Pumpkin with Recipe Below|
Pumpkin Pie Ingredients1 pie pastry for 9 inch pie, deep dish or standard glass pie plate.
1/4 - 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup Splenda sugar blend (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2-3 cups of fresh pumpkin puree, room temperature
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
Whipped cream for topping (optional)
Pumpkin Pie InstructionsPreheat oven to 425F degrees and place a baking sheet (cookie sheet) on the lowest rack. Prepare or purchase fresh pie pastry. Place it in a glass pie dish (for the best possible crisp crust). Prick the sides and bottom with a fork. Lay a sheet of parchment into on top of the pastry and weight it down with pie weights or beans. Place in the oven to bake for 3-4 minutes. Remove and let sit with weights while you prepare the filling.
|Crust with Pie Weights|
|The Dry Ingredients without Optional Nuts|
Bake for 15 minutes at 425F, then reduce temperature to 350F degrees. Bake for an additional 45-60 minutes, just until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake. Check pie frequently and cover the crust edge with a pie crust guard or aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.
|The Winning Recipe|
See next week's posting on Savory Pumpkin Sides