Here are two of my favorite pumpkin pie recipies.
This one is from my holiday pie collection. It's the best pumpkin pie I know, if I say so myself.
Pumpkin Custard Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
Pastry for a 9-inch pie shell
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup mashed pumpkin, canned is perfect
2 slightly rounded tablespoons finely cut preserved or candied ginger
1/4 cup cognac (use at least V.S.O.P.-level, real French cognac or substitute armagnac or dark Haitian rum, or bourbon)
To prebake the pie shell: Prick the bottom of the pastry in 8 to 10 places with the tines of a table fork. Line the shell with foil and fill with dried beans. (Warning: Do not press the beans into the shell or the foil will stick.)
Using a baking sheet to slide it onto the middle rack of the oven, bake the bean-filled shell in a preheated 425-degree oven for 10 minutes. Using the baking sheet again as a pallet, remove the shell from the oven and remove the foil liner and all the beans. Return the shell to the oven for 2 minutes longer. It's all right to let it cool if you intend to fill it later.
To prepare filling: In a medium or large mixing bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs lightly to mix well, then gently beat in all the remaining ingredients in the order given.
To bake: Place the pastry shell on the baking sheet and fill the shell with all but 1/4 cup or so of the filling.
Place the filled shell, still on the sheet, in a 375-degree oven, then spoon the last of the filling into the shell, while it is in the oven, on the pulled-out middle rack. (If the oven was previously preheated to 425, it's perfect. Otherwise preheat to 425 because working in front of the open oven door will reduce the heat, then set it at 375.)
Bake about 30 minutes, or until a knife point inserted in the center of the pie is clean when removed. The pumpkin custard will still jiggle.
The pie can be served warm but I prefer to serve it at room temperature. Since the center often cracks as it cools, you can use that as an excuse to pipe-on rosettes of whipped cream. If a slightly cracked pie really bothers you -- makes you feel that you did something wrong -- you could also cut the pie in the kitchen and serve wedges with a big dollop of whipped cream.
Custard Variation: The filling can be baked without crust in an 8-inch terracotta casserole -- the kind from Spain you see in catalogues. It takes five minutes longer.
Pumpkin Pie With Eggnog
This is the pumpkin pie recipe made with eggnog that Dorie Greenspan mentioned last week on the radio. Oy, the problems this has caused.
I don't even remember how it came up. Dorie and I are good friends and when we talk our conversation goes all over the place. One thing leads to an often unrelated other. The ostensible reason she was on my program was to talk about baking and cooking with chocolate, apropos the recent publication of Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, which she wrote. Somehow, in passing, she said the pumpkin pie that she bakes for Thanksgiving is made with eggnog. I was not the only one who was intrigued with that. Several of you have asked for the recipe. I got it on the phone from Dorie this morning and made it twice already this afternoon, having prepared myself already with a container of eggnog from the supermarket and a couple of cans of pumpkin puree.
The recipe is from a famous cookbook, "Cook My Darling Daughter," written by Mildred O. Knopf in 1959. Mildred was the wife of Hollywood producer Edwin Knopf, and the sister-in-law of Alfred A. Knopf, who is the publisher of this book, as well as Mildred's other famous cookbook, "The Perfect Hostess," and a couple of others, including "The Food of Italy & How To Prepare It," which she wrote with her husband.
Pumpkin Holiday Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
Arthur Two Cents: Dorie actually doesn't bake this custard as a pie. Since she has a French bent (not to mention an apartment in Paris), she uses the filling in a pre-baked tart shell. When I went to bake it in a 9-inch pastry, I found there was too much custard mix, as she does in her tart shell. You could simply pour the extra custard into ramekins and bake the custard as custard – in a water bath – or use two 8-inch pie shells and make two smaller pies.
There are some other problems with this recipe:
Today's 15-ounce cans of pumpkin puree hold only 1 3/4 cups of puree. As I think it is foolish to open a second can of pumpkin for only 1/4 cup of pumpkin, I have formulated the recipe accordingly, using only 1 3/4 cups.
I am still uncertain about the baking time. Baking it for the full time at 425 degrees, as Mildred Knopf instructs, could lead to a broken, watery custard, especially in 8-inch pastry shells. I baked mine the second time at 425 for 15 minutes, then at 350 degrees for the rest of the time, 40 to 50 minutes, until the pie tests done, which is to say until the point of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. I hate that little slit in the center of a tested custard pie. My solution, as well as Dorie's suggestion, is to put a dollop of whipped cream over it at serving time.
Perhaps next year I will have more time to fool with this recipe – for instance, I would love to try it with a pre-baked pie shell, for a crisper crust – but given that Thanksgiving is only two days away, here it is as it stands. The custard is delicious. You can't go too far wrong.
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups pumpkin puree (see Arthur's two cents, above)
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups eggnog
2 tablespoons brandy or rum
In a large mixing bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs and eggnog until well mixed. Beat in the pumpkin puree, then the remaining ingredients.
Pour into a 9-inch pastry shell (there will be more custard than you need – bake the excess in ramekins or custard cups placed in a water bath), and transfer on a baking sheet to a preheated 425-degree oven.
After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the center tests firm. Insert the point of a sharp knife in the center. The custard is set if the knife comes out clean.