Pie from a Pumpkin

[ A Fall Haiku ] Pumpkin in a patch, You thought you’d be a lantern, Now you are a pie.

Six years ago I peered into a CSA veggie box from Irv and Shelly in Chicago, Illinois and as I caught sight of a tiny pie pumpkin my life was unalterably turned toward a future of lady baking. Aaron and I took one look at that orange orb of destiny and knew the only thing to do was to make a pie. We paired our roasted pumpkin with copious amounts of cream, honey, cinnamon and a hint of ginger, whisked our ingredients into a dreamy swirl of fall flavors, and together we baked our very first pumpkin pie.

It’s October which means all sorts of pumpkin varieties are storming the the grocery store shelves and farmer’s market stalls. Pumpkin patches and orchards everywhere are irresistible with promise of hot apple cider, decadent donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and  miles upon miles of bakeable, carvable, decorate-able pumpkins. Fairytale pumpkins are alluring with their orangish blue hue and their idyllic Cinderella carriage shape; they are sweet to the point of almost not needing sugar and they are one of the few pumpkins that don’t become stringy after baking. Peanut pumpkins are fun with their skin looking as though they’ve been decorated with empty peanut shells, which, in actuality, are sugar deposits making for another naturally sweet baking option. And then there are the sugar pie pumpkins; tiny, sweet pumpkins promising just the right amount of pumpkin puree for a single pie.

Don’t ignore the call. Get yourself a pumpkin and start roasting. Munch on pumpkin seeds while your house fills with the unbelievably delicious smell of fall. Eat slices of pie with your morning coffee or after dinner with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Fall is is here to stay, so start making perfect pies.

Teeny Pies Pumpkin Pie:

1 small pie pumpkin                                                                                                                                         3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon                                                                                                                  1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                                           1/2 teaspoon ground ginger                                                                                                                           4 large eggs                                                                                                                                                         1 cup honey (local if you have it)                                                                                                                   1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream                                                                                                                    pie dough for one bottom crust

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position.

2. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon (and save them for roasting, duh), lightly doil the cut surface, and place the halves cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the pumpkin until it’s tender and easily pierced by a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes.

3. Using your fingers remove the pumpkin peel, which will have pulled away from the flesh and should be very easy to take off. Place the roasted pumpkin in a food processor and puree until smooth.

4. Place 2 cups of the pumpkin puree in a large bowl, add the cinnamon, salt, and ginger, and stir until everything is combined.

5. Add the honey and the cream to the mixture and whisk gently until everything is incorporated. Add the eggs and whisk until everything is combined and the pumpkin mixture is smooth.

6. Prepare the crust: Place the dough disk on a floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin roll it into a rough 11-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lay the crust into a 9-inch pie dish, gently press it in, and trim any excess dough from the edge with a paring knife, being sure to leave a 3/4 inch overhang. Tuck the overhanging dough under itself and crimp.

7. Set the crust on a rimmed baking sheet before giving the filling one final stir and pouring it into the crust. Bake until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Teeny Morris