Legacy Recipe: Pumpkin Pie

I don't normally like to post recipes for foods that have been well established unless there is some factor about the particular recipe that makes it unique. This post is for a classic seasonal recipe, pumpkin pie. However, this recipe not only has unique methodology, but its also dear to my heart because it comes from my maternal grandmother, who was not only a fabulous cook but a classy, warm-hearted lady. I'm happy to be able to document her recipe here and hope it brings you as much joy to prepare and eat as it has me.

I decided to make my grandmother's (MaMa's) silky-sweet pumpkin pie recipe for an early Thanksgiving party with my biology grad student friends. I even made an all-butter crust from scratch as well. I found a great recipe at allrecipes.com with only 4 ingredients. I whipped up three crusts in my food processor the night before preparing the pies. There's something so rewarding about making your own pastry. Even though this crust recipe is indulgent, I highly suggest you not use those pre-packaged pie doughs because 1) they taste terrible, in my opinion, and putting delicious pie filling with a bad crust will lead to a mediocre pie and 2) they're full of preservatives.

The next day I made the filling, and here is the unique part: instead of just dumping the naked ingredients into the raw pie crust, you cook them on the stove until thickened as if you were preparing a custard. This is what makes the filling silky smooth instead of firm like so many other pumpkin pie recipes I've eaten. To tell you the truth, this is the only pumpkin pie recipe I like. Other than that, I think the recipe has a higher proportion of milk-to-pumpkin, so it has less of a vegetable flavor. The original recipe is so adorable because my grandma's proportions of ingredients were for things like "two or three eggs"...something I kept chuckling about. This was probably before eggs were graded into sizes, so I just used 4 standard large eggs because I doubled the recipe to make 3 pies. I also know from my MaMa's recipes that she loved cloves, and this recipe is no different. It may seem odd to measure out individual spices when the recipe calls for a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice on top. The individual spices are in the perfect ratio; you don't know the ratio of spices in pumpkin pie spice, which is why it's not predominantly used.

I used dough scraps to  make cinnamon sugar pinwheels, like my mom used to make. You can see the pastry recipe I used resulted in a light, flaky dough.

I free-form cut autumn decorations from pie dough scraps. This was supposed to be a maple leaf.

An acorn to decorate the top of one pie

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All 3 pies. The one in the back looks burnt, but it's not...I just got over zealous with the pumpkin pie spice garnish...

Please make this for your holidays this year; you won't be sorry. This can be made in stages and in advance because the pies last well in the refrigerator. P.S. if you use Cool Whip on this pie, that would be fine as long as you don't tell me about it ;) (honestly, if you're going as far to make your own pie, you might as well whip your own cream for a little dollop on each piece...you will look like a kitchen rockstar).

Legacy Recipe: Pumpkin Pie
Printable Recipe

4 large eggs
1 28-oz can pure pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
pumpkin pie spice

1. Whisk the eggs and add them to a large saucepan, then pour in all the remaining ingredients except vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.
2. Cook the filling over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard becomes so thick that it coats the back of a spoon and if you draw your finger down the back of the spoon, it makes a line. Fold in the vanilla.
3. Pour the filling into the prepared crusts. Sprinkle over some pumpkin pie spice. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1-1 1/4 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out relatively clean.
This recipe makes enough filling for 3 8-9-inch pies. Halve this recipe for 1 pie.

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