Growing up, my mom did almost all of the cooking. If dad stepped in, then it was usually to grill something. But every once in a while he would surprise us all. And one fateful Thanksgiving day he decided to make pumpkin pie. Then he did it the next year. And then it kind of became a tradition for dad to bake some variety of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
My mom’s apple pie with homemade crust was what she typically baked for Thanksgiving dessert. Dad wanted pumpkin pie, so he made it for himself. Mom had too much to do to make two different pies. I also think that she wasn’t the biggest fan of the gourd pie. He started basic and then kept trying different variations every year. My previous encounters with pumpkin pie were with some not-so-impressive grocery store ones that left a lot to be desired. So I wasn’t a huge fan myself.
But I have a really bad sweet tooth, so I was down for having a little (or maybe a little too much…) of both pies. Trying my dad’s pumpkin pie made me see that there was more to the dish than previously thought. And it was a dessert that I could get behind.
After getting married and building traditions as a new family, I picked up the torch and decided to try my hand at baking a pumpkin pie. So, I went online to scour the web for the best pumpkin pie recipe. I looked through a lot of recipes not really knowing exactly what I was looking for, and then I found it. The recipe that I would use as a base for my pie.
The Epicurious recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Pie caught my attention and is the inspiration behind the recipe below. However, what really sets the recipe apart is looking through all of the comments. There were so many suggestions on how to improve the originally posted recipe. And a lot of agreement on the specific tweaks necessary. I found it fascinating that various home chefs came together in the comments and so I decided to trust their consensus.
So in the recipe below I have incorporated those changes, as well as a few other steps I find as best practice, to make a delicious traditional pie for Thanksgiving and the rest of fall.
Pumpkin Pie Spice for All
Pumpkin pie is the quintessential fall dessert, though it really is the mix of spices that have taken over fall. Every fall pumpkin spice flavor manages to get into everything. Most famously the pumpkin spice latte. Some of it good, some of it bad, and some of it really weird (they made pumpkin spice Pringles at one point…).
Don’t let the injection of spice into everything make you turn your nose up at the original. And make sure to create your own mix of spices instead of just using a premade pumpkin pie spice mix. Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. They are all warm, bright spices that are fairly potent. A little goes a long way, as less than 2 teaspoons of spice are used for the whole pie. I love cloves. Maybe a little too much. But I bumped up the proportion of cloves to other spices in my mix.
If you really want to go all from scratch, you can also skip canned pumpkin and cook your own. It is definitely more effort, and I have done it once or twice. But I am not well-versed enough yet to give you a full walkthrough. See this guide if you want to give it a try yourself. Note that you will need to get pumpkins specifically for baking, and they are a lot smaller than the one you picture in your mind when you first think of a pumpkin. Remember – carving pumpkin does not equal baking pumpkin.
Slice to serve and top with a dollop of whipped cream for a tasty traditional take on the pie. Or have it a la mode with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Whatever way you whip it up, make sure to share it with those you love.
Fall Spiced Pumpkin PieCourse: DessertDifficulty: Moderate
Spiced custard that immediately transports you to the fall.
- Pie Filling
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Pie Crust
Follow this pie crust recipe, though you only need a half-batch if you don’t plan on
- Make pie crust
- When the crust is almost done resting in the fridge, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)
- Roll out the crust and place it in a 9″ pie dish
- Decorate the edge of the crust however you like
- Place parchment paper over the dough and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or dry rice
- Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes
- Remove from the oven and remove parchment paper with weights
- Turn the oven down to 325°F (165°C) once the pie crust is done blind baking
- Mix together the dry ingredients (first 9 ingredients) in a 2 quart saucepan
- Whisk in all remaining ingredients until combined – make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients at the bottom
- Warm in the saucepan on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly
- Pour the mixture into the partially baked crust
- Bake at 325°F (165°C) for 45 to 60 minutes, until it is just baked in the center – the center will be wobbly but not liquidy, poking it with a knife should come out clean, or you can use an instant-read thermometer to check that it is 175°F (80°C)
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into slices