Oh, heyyy, November. When did you get here?? Wasn’t it just Labor Day and 80 degrees? Actually, it was just 80 degrees last week here in southeastern PA, because WHY NOT throw the people of Pennsylvania who are expecting crunchy leaves and cool crisp air for a huge loop? I was just reminded (thanks to TimeHop!) that on Halloween in 2011, it snowed here. Yeah. Snow. In October. And this year, we were sweating our skinny jeans and sweaters off.
No matter your weather, we can all agree on one thing: it is most certainly still fall and by absolutely no means Christmas. Yeah… I see you, Christmas candy, in your aisles in the grocery store. I see you, Christmas trees and ornaments, lining the shelves of my favorite craft stores. And I definitely see you, Christmas cookies, that have been taking up space on my kitchen counter and my photo editing program for the last month and a half (oh, just #foodbloggerlife?).
But no. No no no. I have not had my Thanksgiving dinner yet, so please, keep your Christmas carols away from me for now. I have some turkey and stuffing to eat, and I will not allow the Christmas caroling to start until my last crumb of pumpkin pie is gone. Which, honestly, won’t take long at all. But I can guarantee you it won’t be before Black Friday begins.
So if you follow me on Instagram, you know I spoke about this pie a couple weeks ago. I was totally prepared to share this pie, even knowing how it 99% of the time turns out (I’ll get there), and when I was ready to photograph it, I was just so freaking bummed and discouraged and was ready to just gobble it up in my misery without snapping a single photo. But I didn’t. Because my husband is my greatest support, and he encouraged me to share my absolute favorite pumpkin pie with my readers because it is “the best pumpkin pie [he has] ever had.”
Umm, what? Excuse me? My husband, the self-proclaimed pumpkin pie hater, just called my pie the best pumpkin pie he’s ever had? Yeah– it happened.
I’ve been making this pumpkin pie for a few years now, but Matt, being the pumpkin pie hater he claims to be, never tried it. This year, he decided to, and although I told him that totally wasn’t fair, he went for it anyway. And then when I heard those glorious words come out of his mouth, I could barely speak! My husband? The guy who thinks the best way to eat pumpkin pie is to throw it in the trash? Wants more?! Surely, this pie really is as good as I think it is.
There are a few key components to this glorious pumpkin pie:
Have you made my homemade pie crust before? It gets excellent reviews, and it’s super simple. If you’re to intimidated, store-bought is just fine. But please please please, try the homemade kind someday! There’s just nothing else like it!! The recipe makes two crusts, and you can use the second one for the cut-out shapes on the crust. This is a totally optional step, but heyyyy, cute leaves!
You’ll brush the pie crust with an egg wash (and the cut-out pieces too, if you’re using them!) to give it an extra shine and then blind bake it for about 12 minutes.
What’s blind baking? Blind baking is sort of “flash baking” your crust to give it a head start on doneness. When a custard-like filling goes into a crust, that crust can get super soggy if it’s not given that head start.
Use pie weights, dry beans, or my favorite, a pie chain, to prevent the crust from bubbling up with air pockets. Don’t worry about the marks the weights leave. They won’t matter under all that pumpkin goodness!
Now, the filling. Ohhhh, that filling!!
Simple: a can of pumpkin, a whole slew of spices, some eggs, and some heavy cream. That’s it. But my kickers? A little bit of black pepper and also orange peel. Yes, that’s right. Black pepper (like in my spiced gingerbread cookies) and orange peel (like in my honey walnut cookie sticks). Believe me, they take this pie from great to amazing.
And then, of course, homemade whipped cream. Because it is everything. Please, no CoolWhip. Vomit.
Now, about the way it looks. Sigh. This pie… I just absolutely cannot get this pie not to crack in the middle. I can’t. I’ve tried several things, and it never quite seems to work. This specific pie wasn’t the biggest crack I’ve ever seen, but it was still there. Thank you, little pie crust pumpkin. You make me feel less sad about the giant “X” in the middle of my glorious pie.
Matt assured me that having this pie displayed proudly on my blog makes me look human. Which I am. I can make a lot of beautiful desserts, but every once in awhile, I have to set aside appearance for taste. Besides, have you seen this pie sliced? I mean, all the googly heart eyes!
I think there might be a way to prevent this pie from cracking on the top, and that might be to fill the crust a little less full before baking, but that would mean I’d be left with a little bit of filling that would be a waste of ingredients to throw out and also a waste of time to bake into little mini pies. My best defense against a ginormous crack is to leave the pie like this until the oven is cool:
This is the method used during cheesecake baking to help keep the top intact. It works well with this pumpkin pie, but like I said, prepare for a crack or two.
Once this pie is cool, there’s a good chance it will be the star of your Thanksgiving show. The filling is rich and decadent, and the flavor is so intense you’ll find yourself taking slow bites just to find all those individual spices. Pumpkin pie often gets overlooked as just a run-of-the-mill, must-have dessert, but I can guarantee that if you bring this pie to your Thanksgiving spread, you’ll be everyone’s new favorite family member.
Especially if you don’t speak of any of that Christmas business while you’re slicing up the one last hurrah pumpkin season gets!
- homemade pie crust (makes 2 crusts: see recipe notes)*
- 1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest**
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 and ½ cups heavy cream
- EGG WASH: 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon heavy cream
- Prepare my homemade pie crust through step 4.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. On a floured work surface, roll out one disc of chilled pie dough. Turn the dough about one quarter of a turn after every few rolls until dough is in a circle approximately 12" in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9" x 2" pie dish. Use your fingers to tuck it in and make it smooth. If you need to trim the edges, use a small paring knife to do so. Flute the edges with your pointer finger knuckle of one hand and thumb and pointer finger of the other. Brush the crust lightly with the egg + cream wash. Prick the crust a few times with a fork, then line the crust with parchment paper and dried beans or a pie chain/pie weights. Bake the crust for 12 minutes, until golden brown.
- While the crust bakes, prepare the pie filling. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, orange zest, and eggs. Whisk in the cream until everything is incorporated. Pour the filling into the baked pie crust, reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF, and bake pie for 75-80 minutes. The filing is done when it jiggles just a tiny bit when the baking sheet is bumped. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out mostly clean. Turn off the oven and crack the door, allowing the pie to cool inside the warm oven for about 15 minutes. The top of the pie will most likely still crack, and this is fine.
- After the oven has cooled down, transfer baked pie to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Serve with homemade whipped cream. Leftovers stay fresh covered tightly in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Pie can be frozen, up to 3 months. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a plastic zip top bag. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.
**You may use fresh or jarred orange zest. I have used both.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten