Best Pumpkin Pie

November 26, 2013

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite pies, and we have them at our house more than just for Thanksgiving.   I like to use Joy of Cooking’s recipe, which yields a crispy, flaky crust, and custardy, delicious filling that’s not grainy or soggy.  The key is the blind-baked crust, which is pre-baking your pie crust lined with foil and pie weights.  I like to do this with all of my one-crust pies, ever since I read about it in Joy.  It really does produce superior results.

Blind Baking a Crust - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Blind Baked Crust with Egg Wash - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I have made only a few pumpkin pies in my time. It seems for holiday gatherings, others make the pumpkin and I bake apple or pecan-sweet potato pie – like this Thanksgiving!  And I usually follow Mom/Granny’s lead and use the recipe on the side of the can of pumpkin. 🙂  I’ve always been satisfied with the results, but then I’ve never had this version!  One thing I will say is that I think pumpkin pie is best made with canned pumpkin. Every time I’ve had it with fresh pumpkin puree, it seems watery. How about you Margaux? What are your thoughts on fresh vs. canned pumpkin?

Margaux says…

I definitely ALWAYS use canned pumpkin.  Not only does it seem watery with fresh, but often grainy and stringy.  Yuck.  It’s really not worth the extra step, because canned pumpkin is just that…pumpkin, no additives.  You would have to have commercial grade equipment to get it the consistency that canned is, which is perfect for pies.  I was happy to see that there was a little section about it in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living…their test kitchen came up with those same results.

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Blind Baked Pie Crust

1/2 recipe pastry dough, like this one

1 egg yolk

salt

Roll out pie dough.  Carefully place it in a 9″ pie plate, trim the edges leaving a 1″ hang over, fold it under and crimp.  Place in freezer and freeze for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take pie shell out of freezer and cut a large piece of aluminum foil.  Place foil into pie plate, shiny side down, carefully pressing it into the corners and leaving a good amount hanging over the sides.  Fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice (I keep dried beans on hand and use them over and over again).  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, and carefully remove foil.  Prick crust all over with fork and put in oven again for another 5 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.  Meanwhile, beat egg yolk with a pinch of salt.  When crust is done, brush with egg yolk all over and bake for another minute or two, until the glaze is set.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

A note about eggs in the recipe: If you like your pie more custardy, use 3 eggs.  If you like a stronger pumpkin flavor and a denser filling, use only 2.  I like to use 3.

2-3 eggs (see note above)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

While mixture is sitting for a few minutes, place foil around the fluted edges of the crust (or use an aluminum pie sheild…one of my favorite kitchen gadgets).  Warm crust back up by placing it in the oven for 1-2 minutes, until it is hot to touch.  Pour filling into the hot crust, place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until center seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when you tap the side of the dish.  Cool on a cooling rack to room temperature.  Serve within one day, store in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sugar

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium high until soft peaks form, no longer.  Serve dollops on slices of pie.  Store remainder in refrigerator in airtight container.  Whip with a wire whisk for 10-15 seconds when ready to use again.

Quinoa with Beets and Sweet Potatoes - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We eat quinoa like it’s going out of style in the summer.  Now it’s finally fall (I don’t know about where you live, but in Chicago I thought summer was never going to end!), and I wasn’t ready to give up my go-to dinner starter, but I’m definitely not in the mood for more salads.  So this week I tested out a couple of quinoa side dishes (or in one case we ate it as the main dish with a poached egg on top) that were amazing!  They’re based on a recipe in one of my old Martha Stewart magazines for quinoa hash, which is where I got the idea for the poached egg.  These would be great also as side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner!  Especially if you have vegetarians or vegans in your family, as quinoa has a good amount of protein and can be eaten as a main dish.  I served the beet-sweet potato one with roasted chicken, and it was delicious as a weekend meal.

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Brussels Sprouts - sweet & Savory Kitchens

I see Aunt Suzy and I are on the same wavelength…her latest post is very similar to mine, with forbidden rice instead of quinoa.  Can’t wait to try that one out, too!  There are numerous combinations of things that you can toss with the cooked quinoa; these are just the two that I have made so far.

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We are on the same wavelength! I almost put in my post that I thought the forbidden rice dish could be made with red or black quinoa! I can’t wait to try these.

Quinoa with Beets and Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cup dry quinoa
3 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed thoroughly, and sliced thinly
1 sweet potato
2-3 beets with greens, greens rinsed thoroughly and chopped
1 tbsp orange zest
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop sweet potato into 1/2″ chunks and toss with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread on 1/2 of a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil. Peel and chop beets into 1/2 chunks, toss with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/8 tsp salt and spread on other half baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender, stirring halfway through, taking care not to mix beets and potatoes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté leeks and thyme for about 2 minutes, until they have softened. Add beet greens and sauté until wilted. Turn off heat and set aside until quinoa and veggies are done. Toss quinoa, roasted veggies, and leek mixture together in a large bowl with orange zest. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

1 cup dry quinoa
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz. shredded Brussels sprouts
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes and squash with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt and place on baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, until tender, stirring about halfway through.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Increase heat to medium-high and add Brussels sprouts. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes. You may want to add a little more oil to the pan by pushing the veggies to the side and adding it (I found the pan got a bit dry and added another tablespoon). Stir in oregano. Turn off heat. Combine quinoa with roasted veggies and Brussels sprouts mixture in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This year we will have two family gatherings for Thanksgiving.  The first is at my brother John’s on the actual day, which is also my birthday (yeah!!).  We mostly cooked the traditional family recipes because as in so many families . . . don’t mess with tradition!  But we also added a few new things, and everybody  attending brought something, so we had a fabulous menu, from turkey to pumpkin pie and everything in-between.  One thing stood out this year and that was cranberries.  Starting with dried cranberries on the spinach salad and fresh in the apple-cranberry pie with crumble topping, they were a featured ingredient.   My sister-in-law, Cindy, and I conspired on two delicious additions that used cranberries.  The first was Sparkling Pear Cocktail, which we found in this array of Thanksgiving Cocktails from Martha Stewart.  These were a refreshing, low alcohol way to start the festivities.  We were also looking for a new and different cranberry sauce, something that would be a departure from the usual.  We found this Brandy spiced cranberry sauce from The Galley Gourmet.  Even those of us who don’t particularly like cranberry sauce (me and my brother, John) thought it was fabulous – we all decided it’s a “keeper”.  Enjoy!


Margaux says  . . .

I want to make EVERYTHING in the November Martha Stewart Living issue.  Yes, I love Martha Stewart.  The magazine is beautiful and smart, and has tons of good recipes in it (most of the time).  I realize that it’s not cool to like Martha Stewart, but I don’t really care!  It’s the only magazine I get, and I’m proud of it. November’s issue was the best one in months…every page has delicious looking goodies that I can’t wait to make!  This is the first of many things I’ll be trying out from it.

I absolutely love pumpkin anything, and make lot’s of pumpkin treats all through the fall.  The goat cheese frosting is what stood out to me in this recipe, plus the quince compote sounded really interesting, as I’ve never tried quince before!  You could do the cake without the compote, and it is very tasty.  But the compote really makes the cake, I think…it adds a little extra sweetness, and is a nice light balance with the heaviness of the cake and frosting.   The frosting isn’t super sweet, which I love, but for you sweet tooths out there, I would add a little more powdered sugar.  The batter is very thick-not a typical cake batter.  And it took mine much longer to bake than 35 minutes-more like 45.  But the oven I was using wasn’t completely accurate, so make sure you check it at 35 first!

I made this for my Aunt Annie’s 70th birthday party, and we were at my mom’s house down in central Illinois, so I had to “rough it” while baking.  I only had a hand mixer, and the lighting in her kitchen is pretty dim.  She hates cooking (although her kitchen is beautiful!), so she doesn’t have all the luxuries I’m used to.  However, it was lucky that I was there because she has 8″ cake pans, and I don’t!  So it worked out perfectly.

I am definitely going to make this particular cake recipe a regular for fall!  I love the addition of fresh ginger.  I usually make a pumpkin cake at least once every fall season, and the one I’ve been using isn’t nearly as good!  It would also be a good recipe to use for brunch muffins…plain, no frosting or topping.


Pumpkin Layer Cake
from Martha Stewart Living November 2010 issue

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups solid packed pumpkin (from one 14.5 oz. can)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Brush two 8-inch round cake pans with butter; line with circles of parchment, and brush with butter. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Which together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt.
2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin; add vanilla and ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, and beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Divide batter between pans.
3. Bake cakes until golden brown, pulling away from sides of pans, and until a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes (mine took about 10-12 minutes longer than that!).  Let cool in pans set on wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert cakes on to racks. Let cool.
4. evenly spread half the goat cheese frosting on top of 1 cake. Top with the second cake, and frost top with the remaining frosting. Top cake with some quince-ginger compote, and serve remainder on the side.

Goat Cheese Frosting

Makes 3 cups.

1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Beat cheeses until combined. Gradually add sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Quince-Ginger Compote

Overly ripe quinces may not retain their shape as the simmer, so it’s best to use ones that have just ripened.

3 cups off-dry white wine, such as Riesling
1 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (from one 2-inch piece)
3 lbs just ripened quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Bring wine, water, sugar, and ginger to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add quinces. (Add more water if needed to cover fruit.) reduce heat, and simmer gently until quinces are tender, 25 to 45 minutes, depending on ripeness of fruit.
2. Transfer quinces to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Bring liquid in saucepan to a simmer, and cook until slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes. (This part took me about 15-20 minutes…you really need to cook it down quite a bit to get the right consistency. Remove and discard ginger. Stir in lemon juice. Pour syrup over quinces. Let stand until cool. Refrigerate if desired.

Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake

October 29, 2010

I’m totally in love with the cookbook Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Every page is filled with gorgeous photos of delicious, rich looking cakes.  This recipe is just that…gorgeous, rich, delicious and heavenly.  It’s a perfect dessert for an autumn dinner party, or a new tradition for the holidays.

Ms. Beranbaum created this cake for Fine Cooking magazine, despite her fears that the spices you usually add with pumpkin recipes would over power the cream cheese flavor.  But she used turbinado sugar instead of regular, which has mild overtones of molasses, instead of the spices, and it works extremely well.  The crust is so delicious also…I almost made a traditional graham cracker crust so that I wouldn’t have to buy gingersnaps and pecans for the recipe, and I am SO glad I changed my mind at the last minute.  It is a perfect complement to the pumpkin, and so good that I may use it in other cheesecake recipes as well.  I also almost didn’t make the caramel glaze.  I ruined the first batch (make sure you keep a close eye on it while it’s cooking!!), and contemplated nixing it all together, but decided to try again, and I am very happy with that decision as well.  It really finishes the cake.  Plus, you can use the extra leftovers for ice cream topping!  🙂

Plan ahead!!!  This must be made one day ahead of time.  (Another reason it’s perfect for the holidays!)

Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake

from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Coat one 9×2 1/2-3 inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set in a slightly larger silicone pan or wrap with a double layer (I did a triple layer) or heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent seepage. Then set in a 12×2 inch round cake pan or roasting pan to serve as a water bath. Set oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350.

Gingersnap Crust

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup gingersnap crumbs, lightly packed
1 tbsp sugar
2 pinches salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Toast pecans by spreading the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and baking for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Place the gingersnap crumbs in a food processor. Add the pecans, sugar and salt and process until fine crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse ten times just until incorporated. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, begin by pressing the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and partway up the sides. To keep the crumbs from sticking to your fingers, it helps to place a piece of plastic wrap over the crumbs and to press them through the wrap. With a 6-inch round cake pan or a flat-bottomed straight-sided measuring cup, smooth the crumbs over bottom and at least 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Be sure to press the bottom thoroughly so that the crumbs are evenly distributed.

Pumpkin filling

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 lb cream cheese, softened and cut into several pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks (2 tbsp), at room temperature

In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin and sugar over medium heat and bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick and shiny. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the mixture into a large food processor and process for 1 minute with the feed tube open.

With the motor of the food processor running, add the cold cream. Add the cream cheese in several pieces and process for 30 seconds, or until smoothly incorporated, scraping down the sides 2 or 3 times. Add the eggs and yolks and process for about 5 seconds, or just until incorporated. Using the silicone spatula, scrape the filling into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula. Set the pan in the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water.

Bake for 45 minutes, turning the pan halfway around in the oven after the first 25 minutes. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour.

Remove the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover with a large bowl or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To unmold, use a small propane torch to heat the outside of the pan or wipe the sides of the pan with a dish towel run under hot water and wrung out.

Caramel Piping Glaze
(makes a full 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream, heated
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla

Have ready a 1-cup heatproof glass measure, coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water until all the sugar is moistened. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow the mixture to boil undisturbed until the mixture turns a deep amber (360 degrees F/180 degrees C or a few degrees lower because its temperature will continue to rise). Remove it from the heat and as soon as it reaches temperature, slowly and carefully pour the hot cream (I added a pinch of salt to the hot cream before adding to the caramel)  into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir the mixture gently, scraping the thicker part that settles on the bottom.

Return the pan to very low heat, continuing to stir gently for 1 minute, until the mixture is uniform in color and the caramel is fully dissolved. Remove it from the heat and gently stir in the butter until incorporated. The mixture will be a little streaky but becomes uniform in color once cooled and stirred.

Pour the caramel into the prepared glass measure and allow it to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla and allow the caramel to cool until no longer warm to the touch, stirring gently three to four times.

The glaze keeps covered for up to 3 days at room temperature and for at least three months refrigerated. To reheat: If the caramel is in a heatproof glass container at room temperature, microwave it on high for 1 minute, stirring twice. Alternatively, place the container in a pan of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until warm, about 7 minutes.

For a decorative lacing effect, you can pour the caramel glaze from the glass measure, but for the greatest precision, use a pastry bag fitted with a small decorating tip.