EMOH@HOME – Food & Drink

Pumpkin Pie

by Chase Dermott, Education & Public Programs Manager

When I first considered a Thanksgiving blog post, I dreamed of an entire feast gleaned from historical cookbooks. Then I came to my senses. It took a little soul searching to realize I don’t have an entire meal in me (unless I’m ordering it from a menu), so instead of torturing myself, I set out to find the most perfect Thanksgiving dessert.

I found this pumpkin pie recipe in Any one can Bake, a Royal Baking Powder Company cookbook published in 1927, on loan to us from Museum volunteer Sherry Steele. My kids giggled at the title because “not everyone can bake, MOM.” I think they meant me.

Let’s do this.

Let me begin by addressing the most distressing part of the filling: stewed pumpkin. While roasting pumpkins doesn’t make me nervous, I’m definitely a little wary of the results and how they will translate to pumpkin pie filling. I did a little light reading and found that people are split over whether to use fresh pumpkin or canned. Some say the flavor of the fresh is better, but the texture of the canned is worth the sacrifice. A little research reveals that Libby didn’t come out with canned pumpkin until in 1929 so it looks like my method has been chosen for me.  

I have had very little success with pie, so my first thought was that I could probably get away with pre-made pie crust, since the challenge of this recipe lies in making the filling from scratch. Then I saw this on the same page as the pie recipe…

I no longer make the rules.

I can’t even pretend I didn’t see it. Looks like this entire pie will be a labor of love. And lard.

The first step was finding pie pumpkins. As lovely as it would have been to reuse the wonderful haunted walking tour pumpkins donated by Sno-Isle Food Co-op, they weren’t the right type. I found pie pumpkins at a grocery store near me and bought three just in case, knowing I’d probably have extra.

Oh my gourd.

Pastry flour was next on my list but the grocery store didn’t have any. Instead, I opted for bread flour as noted in the pie crust recipe, with the intention of replacing two tablespoons of flour with one tablespoon of cornstarch,

Back in the kitchen, our first step in preparation is to make my kids roll their eyes ALLLLLLLL the way back in their heads by playing my favorite Christmas carol of all time, AGAIN.

I began the pumpkin roasting operation by searching for a roasted pumpkin recipe to get the correct temperature and bake time. To prep them, I split them in half, cleaned out the seeds, gave the fleshy part a light coating of oil, put them split side down on parchment paper, poked them with a knife like they owe me money, and put them in the oven to roast.

It’s like Martha Stewart was here.

With the pumpkin portion well in hand, I started working on the pie crust. I’ve made one (I repeat, one) successful from-scratch pie crust in my life so I’m thinking my chances are pretty bad. I’ve never used lard before so instead of resorting to the shortening I had on hand, I actually purchased some out of sheer curiosity. I mixed and rolled out the dough, putting dots of lard on it before folding it as the recipe instructed.

Dotted lard. There’s something I never thought I’d say.

To be honest, I was a little suspicious of the “dotted lard” thing they told me to do, but I tried to trust the process. Like… I’m not supposed to mix in? It’s just gonna be in the middle when I roll it? Maybe it will harden when it chills, I thought.

Mixing the pie filling was simple. The roasted pumpkin broke down nicely and the filling smelled amazing. The dough was chilling and life was good. In hindsight, I think I got a little cocky bragging on the phone to my husband because the universe decided enough was enough. It was time to roll out the pie crust.

Rolling out a pouch of dough that was essentially filled with lard resulted in what can only be described as “person stepping on a cream-filled donut.” Lard shot out and coated the countertop, covered the rolling pin, and caused the dough to separate and stick to everything it touched. I desperately tried to salvage it as it was, but it wouldn’t come off the counter and it was all piece-y and sticky.

Why tho

I scraped it all off the counter and went to work kneading it into a consistent dough ball, with the help of some more flour. I cleaned everything off, re-coated the surface with a dusting of flour, and successfully rolled the dough out. Wrapping it carefully around the rolling pin, I was able to transfer it easily into the pie pan.

TA-DAAAAAAAAA!

Phew.

I popped the crust in the oven for 5 minutes to prepare it for the filling and turned around the survey the damage. Lard and flour coated every surface of the kitchen, there were lard-covered measuring spoons and cups everywhere, and there were pumpkin seeds on my laptop and the floor. I took a deep breath and thought “It’s okay. The crust is in, what else could go wrong?”

BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP

BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP

BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP

Evidently, my oven does not appreciate 500 degrees AT ALL. Smoked filled the kitchen as the alarm threatened to tell all my neighbors what a terrible cook I am. I managed to get the crust out and quiet the alarm thanks to my mom’s tried and true panicky kitchen towel fanning method. After clearing the smoke, I filled the pie crust with the beautiful filling (which was the only good thing I had left) and put it in the oven at 475 degrees for 15 minutes while I tried to mop up the disaster that was my kitchen.

When timer went off telling me it was time to reduce the temperature, I took the opportunity to check the pie. I noticed that the crust was getting too dark too quickly, so I popped the pie out to put a foil ring around the edge to keep it from browning any further.

BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP

BEEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEP

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!”

At this point, both of my children are screaming because they can’t hear Netflix and Perry Como is taunting me with a guy from Tennessee going to Pennsylvania for some homemade pumpkin pie (NOT NOW, PERRY). I get the pie back in the oven with its haphazardly constructed foil ring thinking I’ll just be lucky if this works at all.

45 minutes pass and then the moment of truth. Did it burn to a crisp? Is my oven going to burst into flames the second I open the door? Was it a good idea to leave my parents house and do adult things?

Look at my fancy leaves, y’all!

It’s not the most beautiful pie I’ve ever seen, but the fact that it didn’t bubble over or catch on fire thrills me to my very core.

But is it done in the middle? Does it even taste good? After a quick trip to the store to get whipped cream, we dug in.

We added more whipped cream after this picture, obvi.

Okay, this is the best damned pumpkin pie I’ve ever had in my life. I’ll admit the crust is standard and nothing to write home about, but the filling is a creamy, flavorful delight. The younglings devoured it and requested pie for breakfast the next morning. 10/10 would eat it straight out of the pie pan with a fork.

What I’d keep: The filling was legit. I’d keep everything about it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

What I’d change: The crust outcome was not worth the trouble, so I’d use a different recipe next time.

Cost: Pie pumpkins were 3 for $5.00 at Fred Meyer, the lard was $1.00, and everything else was a pantry staple. Not bad!

If this pie graces your table this Thanksgiving, be sure to post all about it and tag us on social media with #emohathome. We’d love to see it! And don’t forget to share this gem with your friends so more people can watch us embarrass ourselves for the sake of history.

3 Comments on “EMOH@HOME – Food & Drink

  1. Wow, Chase, that almost makes Pumpkin Pie sound good! (I am not fond of most desserts, in general, but Pumpkin Pie is pretty close to the very bottom of my list!) Thanks for giving it a try and an entertaining review!)Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Sherry Steele

  2. Goodness, I was worn out just by reading this interesting post by Chase who has more energy that I ever remember having. Thank you for sharing this from a cookbook from the past and going to the effort of actually making it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: