Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Pie a la Fall

Hello again, fine blog readers. I've been in quite the "Fall" mood lately, and since it was a three day weekend, I gave in and dedicated my whole Sunday to the celebration of pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkins.

I began this grand pumpkin day by carving a pumpkin up into little chunks to make a pumpkin puree. It's really quite easy. I hear you can roast the pumpkin to make a puree as well, but I like to cut it up into chunks and boil it until it gets nice and soft. Once its soft, you simply drain out the hot water and fill the pot with really really cold water (so you don't burn yourself when you cut off the pumpkin skin and throw the chunks into the blender). Then, blend the pumpkin. Often times you'll need to add a little of the milk from the pumpkin pie recipe below in order to get it to blend properly. Or you can add a little water, and just make a note to yourself to subtract a little water from whatever recipe you're using.

So now you have pureed pumpkin. In my case, I have A LOT of pureed pumpkin, so I may be posting a few more pumpkin related treats.

Now for the pie. Begin by making your crust. Feel free to use whatever type of crust you like. If you don't feel like getting flour all over your kitchen, premade is the way to go. I was feeling rather adventurous this morning though, so I made it from scratch. Basically, just mix all the dry stuff, then add nice cold butter cut into little chunks. Mix it with your hands, breaking up the chunks of butter until everything is nice and crumbly. Then add just as much cold water as you need to get the dough to turn into a nice ball. Here's a recipe for guidance:

1 and 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
10 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons ice cold water (less or more as needed)

Put the ball of dough in the fridge for a half our or so if you're not in a hurry. It helps to have it cold when you roll it out so it doesn't stick to everything in its path. To roll out the dough, I like to sprinkle a little flour on a sheet of wax paper, place the ball of dough in the middle, and then sprinkle the top of the ball with a little flour. At this point, place a sheet of wax paper on top, and roll out the dough into a nice big circle. This cuts down on a lot of mess, as you can peel the dough off of the wax paper much easier than you can peel it off of your countertop. Once you're finished rolling, take off the top layer of wax paper, and carefully (and quickly) flip the dough into the pie dish. Then peel off the other layer of wax paper. At this point I like to trim off excess dough and try to make it look as pretty as possible. Throw the pie dish with crust in the fridge for few minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Interlude: Here is a picture of one of my rats in a pumpkin. Her name is Mochi.

Now for pre-baking your crust. This is usually the trickiest part for me, because I don't own actual cooking tools like "pie weights". Today, though, I discovered that unpopped popcorn makes a pretty decent pie weight. Just throw some wax paper or foil in your pie pan to cover up your crust, and throw in the popcorn kernels to keep the paper/foil firmly against the crust so it doesn't bubble up while you pre bake it. Bake it like this for about 10 minutes. Then take off the foil/wax paper and bake the crust uncovered for another 10 or 15 minutes (I went with 10 because I'm impatient). Take out the crust and turn the oven down to 350. Then pour in the pumpkin pie filling and bake for 45 minutes or until the middle isn't all wiggly and liquidy.

Here is a nice pumpkin pie filling recipe:

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
(you can add a little ginger or cloves if you'd like, but I prefer it simple with just the nutmeg and cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
4 eggs

And now you have a delicious pumpkin pie!

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