Sunday, November 13, 2011


Chef/owner Brian Kingsford of Bacaro ( was talking about fresh produce one day in October and got excited about squash, and more specifically, pumpkins. He described the pie-making attributes of particular types so when I purchased green tomatoes at Walker's in Little Compton I added a pumpkin to the pile. It will be a good pie but I usually use canned pumpkin and that's good too, so use it here.

Simple Pumpkin Pie
preheat oven to 350˚

3 cups aerated flour (flour stirred with a fork)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbls vegetable shortening
ice water (up to 6 tbls)

Stir flour, sugar and salt with a fork. Mix in the shortening: 1) use a pastry blender or your clean hands, or 2) put the whole thing in a food processor and pulse. You don't want it perfectly smooth, just well blended. Gradually add tablespoons of ice water. After 4 tablespoons, try forming a ball with the dough; if it crumbles, add some more water - usually 6 tablespoons will do the trick.

Cut the ball of dough in half.  Flatten half (wrap the other and refrigerate or freeze it for a second pie). On a floured surface, neaten the edges, lift the dough up, add more flour to the work surface beneath, sprinkle flour on the top side and roll so the dough fits a 9-inch pie tin. Cut the dough off at the edge of the pie tin. Form this extra dough into a ball, roll it out (flouring etc.) and draw some freeform leaves with a knife. They do not have to be artistic achievements. Reserve these for later.


Freeze the pie crust for 15 minutes. Then line the crust with tin foil and fill with ceramic pie weights if you have them or those dried beans that have been in your cupboard for three years. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and cook the crust for 10 minutes more. Cool on a rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚.

3/4 sugar
1 tbls brown sugar (dark or light)
1 tbls corn starch
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
16 oz* of pumpkin (plain not pie filling)
        *if the market has 15 ounce cans use 15 oz
3/4 whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream or fromage blanc
3 large eggs

Mix the sugars, pumpkin and spices. Add the pumpkin, cream, sour cream and eggs, blending well but not beating. Pour into the crust. It's likely you'll have too much so put the overage in a ramekin (and bake for about half the time or less). 

Now, take the leaves you made and press them gently along the rim of the pie tin. Brush the leaves lightly with egg wash (mix a little water with an egg). They should overlap the pie not the air. Carefully place the pie in the oven and cook for about 55 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Notes: Pumpkin pie is a good day-before pie. Refrigerate after totally cooling. Then take out a couple of hours ahead of dinner. All wise and respectable cooks say you cannot freeze it but if you, like me, are required sometimes to break the rules, go ahead and freeze. Make sure the pie is completely cooled, put it in the freezer uncovered for an hour, then take it out and wrap and rewrap. Lots of state universities have excellent extension websites which tell you how to freeze and thaw almost anything. I just got some tips from the University of Illinois extension services. The thawing tips are useful because what to do is not always intuitive. For instance, thawing by cooking the frozen pie at 350˚ for an hour.

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