Pretty As (Pumpkin) Pie
Every North American knows how essential pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving and Christmas. And because my family has such an amazing pumpkin pie recipe, it’s a dessert I’ve truly, 100%, fallen head-over-heels in love with. However, pumpkin pie is not a staple here in Australia, so I’ve had to bring my Canadian heritage across the Pacific with me, and now seem to be the purveyor of pumpkin pie at every opportunity I get. Aussies love roast pumpkin as a savoury vegetable, so it’s pretty easy to convince them to eat it in pie form, too.
Pumpkin pie is–if not simple, not particularly difficult to make, either. It just requires a bit of patience and gumption, a willingness to not take shortcuts and good humour to make up for whatever mishaps might befall you on your pumpkin pie making adventures. If you’ve read Deanne’s intro to this blog, you’ll know of some of the adventures we three gals had on our pumpkin pie-making night–and while I’ve made this recipe ten times if I’ve made it once, it seems to happen differently every time… and I’ve been convinced on several occasions that it would taste horrible, wouldn’t set, poison someone, or fail completely… and every time, it’s come out as delicious as I remember my mum having made it.
I don’t mean to brag, but this pie has also won awards. It’s that good. It’s so light that even a novice pumpkin pie eater will enjoy it, so don’t let anyone refuse a piece! If you’re ready to take on the glory that is pumpkin pie, roll up your sleeves and prepare for an adventure…
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Makes: 2 pumpkin pies
Cooking time: 30 mins hands-0n, 4 hours start to finish (minimum!)
- 2.5 cups mashed pumpkin (using plain canned pumpkin is the easier method for this pie, but you can also roast your own; see below for instructions. interestingly, the taste stays about the same.)
- 6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp each salt, ginger, nutmeg, & cinnamon
- 2 envelopes gelatin (or 2 tbsp powdered)
- 1/2 cup cold water
You will also need 2 pre-cooked pastry shells. You can either make these with our Painless Pastry recipe, or you can use bought ones. Be sure they’re pastry, not graham wafer crust!
Roasting your pumpkin: If you’re not using canned pumpkin, you’ll have to roast it up so it’s nice and soft for mashing. Cut your pumpkin into quarters (this recipe uses about half a cooking pumpkin, depending on the size), drizzle with olive oil, and a few pinches of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (optional, but it smells great while roasting!). Pour about 1 cm of water in the bottom of the pan, and cover with tin foil. Bake for about an hour and a half at 400 F / 200 C. It may need longer if your pumpkin is thicker. You can cut it up into smaller pieces which will roast faster, and microwaving it with a bit of water will also help to cook it quickly. Your pumpkin is done roasting when it is soft enough to mash it into a smooth consistency with a fork (or food processor if you’re lucky enough to own one!)
Filling: In a medium saucepan, beat egg yolks and sugar together until light. Add pumpkin, milk, and spices, and cook on low heat until the mixture has thickened noticeably, about 5 minutes–stir constantly to prevent the eggs from creating lumps. Mix the half cup of cold water with your gelatin to dissolve it–let sit for 5 minutes before mixing into the pumpkin mixture. Put your pumpkin mixture somewhere to cool to room temperature (or preferably slightly cooler). Note: If you’re making this step ahead, don’t add the gelatin until you’re ready to make the rest of the pie. If you add it and allow it to cool overnight, it will set too early and you’ll have to reheat it and let it re-cool as if you just made it.
Only once your pumpkin mixture is cool, begin to beat your egg whites until they form into stiff peaks. Do NOT pre-whip them! Egg whites will only whip properly if cold, so be sure to store them in the fridge. Once whipped, fold gently into the thickened pumpkin mixture until just mixed. It’s very important that your pumpkin mixture has cooled to at least room temperature, otherwise your egg whites will fall and it’ll end up a big gooey mess instead of light and fluffy, which is what a chiffon pie should be.
And last but not least… pour your pumpkin mixture into pre-cooked pastry shells. Place somewhere cool (like your fridge, or outside if it’s cold enough but not freezing) for several hours until the gelatin has set–it should no longer be jiggly or runny. This generally takes 2-3 hours, or more. Excess pumpkin pie filling can be fed to whoever wants to lick the bowl, or separate it into custard dishes for a yummy snack later.
Serve cool, with a spritz of whipped cream!