For a handful of Thanksgivings, I’ve tried and retried to perfect the Pumpkin Roll recipe from the Land’O Lakes website. It’s essentially a pumpkin version of a ho-ho or of a bûche de Noël. Although I love the recipe because it contains equal parts pumpkin cake and cream cheese frosting, it lacked the traditional, “authentic” taste of Pumpkin pie that I crave come November. After some time in the fridge, it could also get dense and tacky, so it isn’t an ideal choice if it can’t be served straight away. I’ve mostly purchased pumpkin pies in the past; my favorite so far has been Urth Caffé‘s substantial (and pretty pricey) version. This year, I decided to try a recipe of my own on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon so that it wouldn’t be a big deal if I burned the crust or if the filling sunk or didn’t cook through in the middle.
Because it has become increasingly cold here in Manhattan, I wanted to bake a pumpkin pie that could be prepared using the ingredients already in my fridge and pantry. I opened up all of my hefty cookbooks and found multiple recipes for pumpkin pie, but I didn’t have the ingredients for any recipe from start to finish. Instead, I chose to make the crust from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that used sour cream instead of the typical vegetable shortening; and a pumpkin filling from Joy of Cooking that called for condensed milk as an option instead of heavy cream and sugar. I partially baked the Cook’s Illustrated pie crust, and filled it with the Joy of Cooking pumpkin filling (calling for the perfect balance of spices), and all turned out well and simple. I didn’t bother brushing the crust with an egg yolk, and the recipe made a lot more (maybe 2x?) pumpkin filling than fit in the crust.
It doesn’t surprise me that cobbling together two different recipes yielded more of one element than another, but it was liberating to pick and choose, rather than follow to a tee.
All-Butter Single-Crust Pie Dough
4 teaspoons sour cream
3-4 tablespoons ice water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used a pinch)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 10-15 minutes
1. Mix sour cream and 3 tablespoons ice water in bowl until combined. Process flour, sugar, and salt together in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter butter over top and pulse mixture until butter is size of peas, about 10 pulses
2. Pour half of sour cream mixture over flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with your fingers; if dough feels dry and does not hold together, sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon ice water over mixture and pulse until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, 3 to 5 pulses.
3. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before rolling dough out, let it sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.
4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto a 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave any dough that overhangs plate in place.
5. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers. Wrap dough-lined plate loosely in plastic and place in freezer until dough is fully chilled and firm, about 30 minutes, before using.
6. Line chilled pie shell with double layer of aluminum foil, covering edges to prevent burning, and fill with pie weights.
7. For a partially-baked crust: bake until pie dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pie plate to wire rack and remove weights and foil. Crust must be warm when filling is added.
Joy of Cooking’s Pumpkin Pie Filling (edited to show options I chose)
Increase the oven temperature to 425F. In a large bowl, whisk thoroughly 2 large eggs for a firm pie with a pronounced pumpkin flavor.
Add in, and whisk thoroughly:
2 cups cooked pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg (I use a Microplane)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Warm the piecrust in the oven until it is hot to the touch, leaving the filling at room temperature. Pour the pumpkin mixture into crust and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until firm. Cool completely on a rack. The pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.