I will admit, I have always had big eyes for all those scrumptious-looking pies and cakes from the US TV shows we got to watch as teens. Apple and pumpkin pies, stacked pancakes & waffles, brownies, cupcakes.. They in a way made me want to bake myself and turned me into a food blogger.
As for a pumpkin pie.. I have been testing different pumpkin pie recipes since my 20s, since I started watching The Gossip Girl and saw how Blair Waldorf adores her fathers’ Pumpkin pie recipe and the tradition of making it for the Thanksgiving.
We didn’t have Thanksgiving, but what we did have was a garden full of pumpkins. So I went online and chose a random pie recipe, the first one I ran into.
As you may have guessed, my first pumpkin pie was a sad attempt . The crust was under-baked, the filling was too soggy and watery, it was not creamy at all and besides all that, it lacked flavor.
A few years later, my next try had a well baked crust, but this time the filling was too dry and spongy and it still lacked spices and flavor.
There had been at least 5-6 different attempts and none of them made me feel like Blair felt about her fathers’ pie. I signed it off to good TV acting, so for the past few years, I have completely given up on pumpkin pies and stuck to pumpkin spiced lattes.
This year though three thing happened:
– I was finally back home in the autumn time
– I got Netflix and started re-watching Gossip Girl
– Our garden blessed us with bunch of butternut squashes
Those three things combined made me give it another go at a pumpkin pie.. but this time I created my own recipe. THE Recipe.
I knew what I wanted from the recipe:
-well baked crust
– flavorful filling
– cheesecake-like creamy texture
That’s not too much to ask, is it?
When all these three things combine, you have the creamiest, juiciest, flavorful pumpkin pie you could wish for. This recipe became my holy grail, something I have been making for several times in the past few months. And may I say, I think that even Blair Waldorf would approve of it.
So here I present to you – the creamiest Pumpkin Pie.
After the extensive try&fail period, I actually combined parts of 4 different recipes to get mine. What I believe makes the difference and helps get a creamy, well baked pie are these 6 things:
1. Bake the pie crust completely before you put the filling in it.
I always feared baking the pie crust till the end since I thought it will continue to bake with the filling in it and will turn to charcoal. It will not! In fact, the filling will stop the over-drying and further baking of the pie crust. In case the crust is not fully baked, it will become mushy and soggy when the filling comes in.
2. Dont over/underbake the pie
An over-baked pie makes for spongy consistency.
An under-baked pie makes for a watery consistency.
As easy as that.
The easiest way to know that the pie is finished baking is checking on the edges of the filling. Although the middle of the pie may still be a bit wobbly, the edges of the pie will be firm, set and have a light brown color.
3. Bake longer on lower heat rather than shorter on high heat.
Similar to a NY Cheesecake or a Flan, this is an eggs, milk, heavy cream and cheese cake. Meaning, the creaminess comes from slow baking and letting the ingredients cook themselves in their own steam. Pumpkin puree is also full of juices and they can easily turn mushy and grainy if set under high temperature.
If you see the pie cracking on the surface, it is either done baking or being baked on a temperature too high. If the cracks on the pie are not too large, they will disappear while the pie is cooling down.
4. Combination of mascarpone + milk + heavy cream = golden combination
I have found many recipes only with heavy cream & milk, a few recipes only with mascarpone, but combining them together made for the perfect combination.
5. Blend and drain your pumpkin puree well
99% of the recipes I found online call for canned pumpkin puree and even advise you against making your own (“because it will never be as good”).
Well, since Croatia is not as far with canned goods as USA, I had no choice than making my own puree.
And btw, excuse me for my honesty, but may I mention that this whole use-it-from-a-can-advice is a nonsense. By blending your pre-baked pumpkin really well until it is completely creamy, with no lumps and draining the excess liquid out of it, you will get a puree just as good as the canned one, if not better. I mean, what could be better than your own flavorful homegrown pumpkins?
6. Spice up my world
We can talk ingredient combinations all we want, but this pie is nothing without them spices. The regular ones like cinnamon or cloves are a no brainer. Going a bit further with black pepper, cardamom and ginger is what I would call a secret of this recipe. It made ALL the difference in the flavor and brought that pumkin-xmasy feel to it.
So, lets enjoy fall, all the lovely flavors & baking ahead of us and.. lets eat well!