Classic Pumpkin Pie

2 years ago I posted a recipe for pumpkin pie that I had been making for several years and really liked. For unknown reasons, my pie last year was a huge flop. Well, that might be a bit of a dramatic overstatement, it still had a nice taste but there was a giant canyon right down the center of the pie and it seemed really thin to me. Chances are I just did something wrong when measuring or it was simply over-baked. Still, it got me thinking. Should I really only have one way to make a pumpkin pie? Surely not, is the answer.

So here’s a secret, I almost hate to give it away, you know those recipes on the back of bags/cans/boxes? Yeah, those ones that people tend to ignore because surely a simple back-of-the-box recipe can’t be as good as a fancy schmancy recipe from a blog or cookbook – except, maybe it can be! Maybe the people producing the foods inside the bag/box/can really know how to highlight it. Makes sense, right? It reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of Friends, the one where Monica really wants Phoebe’s Grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. Turns out that fancy schmancy recipe was created by “Nestle Tollhous-ah”. The same one from the bag of chocolate chips.

With that sentiment in mind I decided to go for it and try the recipe from the back of the can. Is this an earth shattering original recipe? Absolutely not. You don’t even need to visit my blog to find (though I did make one small change). But it does deserve to be highlighted. It produced an amazingly creamy pie filling that did not have a canyon crack going through the middle. A pumpkin pie that was a real man-pleaser. So there. Secret’s out. This is not my recipe, it belongs to Libby. I hope you don’t mind that I am sharing it here.

And I can’t resist sharing this picture of my sweet girl (who happily hung out in the Moby wrap while I prepared this pie!)



Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

This pie. Oh, this pie. This pie is amazing. I’d almost go as far as saying it was my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. It definitely made the best breakfast, lunch, and snack for the (very) few days it lasted after Thanksgiving. I just feel lucky that I had a group of guests that were too full for 2 slices of pie and were all natural pumpkin pie choosers. The guests that did make the (best) decision to try this pie also loved it.

So what’s so great about this pie? The super sweet filling is enhanced by the warm bourbon and perfectly balanced with the toasted pecans and dark, bitter sweet, chocolate. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’ve only had regular pecan pie one or two times. But now that I’ve had this chocolate bourbon version, I’m not sure a regular one will cut it.



Sweet Cherry and Blueberry Pie

One thing I really love about living in China is the abundance of fresh produce. Every single night there is a truck parked right at the gate of our apartment complex filled with fresh fruit. It’s never unusual to see a person on the street with giant baskets full of cherries or lychee for sale. There are also neighborhood centers every few miles with wet markets, also filled with fresh produce (and some meat that seems a little more questionable, but that’s a subject for a different day).

A few weekends ago, Jesse and I were shopping the local wet market for some vegetables I needed for dinner. As we passed the fruit stand we decided to grab a some blueberries and a few kiwis. It’s not unusual for the stand owners to insist we taste test several other fruits. They probably know that I’m an easy sale. So, we weren’t surprised when the lady behind the counter peeled a lychee for us to try. I’m not a huge fan of lychee, but I took a bite, smiled, shook my head and said “Bu yao” (equivalent to no thanks). So she moved on to the next fruit, a small handful of really gorgeous Rainier cherries. Those, we could not say no to.

As we were leaving (blueberries, kiwi, bananas, and cherries in tow) Jesse looked at me and said, “You think you could make a cherry pie, maybe with blueberries too?” Challenge accepted. Which is some what comical because, as far as I know, I don’t like pie. Too much mushy fruit. But, not being one to back down from a challenge, I went to a reliable source to find a recipe, Martha. Later that afternoon I was sitting at the table pitting cherries, hoping that I might, just might, like the pie that I make. And much to my surprise, I did!

Sweet Cherry and Blueberry Pie

1 recipe pie dough (follows)
1 1/2 pounds sweet cherries (such as Rainier or Bing), pitted and halved
1 cup blueberries*
scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
1 Tbsp granulated sugar, for sprinkling

*As you may be able to tell from the photo, I was a little short on the fruit (I think someone stole a few handfuls!)

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lowest position.

Roll half of the pie dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, into a 14-inch round. Carefully wrap the pie dough around a rolling pin and transfer to a pie pan, gently press the down, without stretching, so it is touching the entire pan and not just hanging from the sides. There should be about 1 inch of hangover on the outside of the pan, trim any excess. Roll the other half of the pie dough into another 14-inch round. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 10 even strips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Add the cherries and blueberries, stirring to evenly coat.  Pour the filling into the pie pan.

Lay 5 of the pie dough strips, evenly spaced, horizontally across the pie pan. Fold back the 2nd and 4th strip, just past the center of the pie. Lay 1 strip of dough vertically (perpendicular to the other strips), just to the open side of the folded back strips. Unfold the strips, so now there should be 5 strips lying horizontally and 1 strip lying vertically (centered in the pan). Now you will work from the center out. To the right side of the single vertical strip, pull back the 1st, 3rd, and 5th vertical strip. Place a second strip to the open side of the fold. Unfold the strips (now there are 5 horizontal strips, and 2 vertical strips). To the right of 2nd vertical strip, pull back the 2nd and 4th horizontal strip. Place a third strip to the open side of fold. Unfold the strips. Repeat the same 2 steps on the left side. You should now have a lattice top. Trim any strips that stick out further than 1-inch from the pie pan. Tuck and press the strip edges into the outer crust. Crimp edges as desired.

*Pretend for a second that I didn’t take the first photo from the wrong direction…

With a pastry brush, brush the lattice top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to prevent spillage!). Bake at 400 degrees until the filling is bubbling all over, about 60-70 minutes. Tent the outer crust with aluminum foil as needed, to prevent burning (about 40 minutes).

Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing to serve.

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

Basic Pie Dough (Double Crust)


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse briefly. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix.
Divide dough in half, and turn out onto two large pieces of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over each portion of dough; press to shape into two 3/4-inch-thick disks. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days); dough can also be frozen up to 3 months (thaw before using).

Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving less than a week away now, I thought it might be a good day for a double dose of sweetness. Don’t forget to check out today’s other post, cranberry sauce!

See that lonely little guy? That’s all that was left for me to photograph. I’m actually pretty lucky I even got this photo, Jesse was sitting down at his desk to eat it right out of the pie pan when I ripped it out of his hands to get the shot. With only crumbs left on plates and in the pie pan, I’d say it was a hit.

Here’s what to like about this recipe: It’s homemade. It’s made with cream (instead of evaporated milk). The spice is well balanced with the cream. Optionally, you can use fresh pumpkin puree (read about making pumpkin puree). It’s just an all around great pumpkin pie. Make this a new part of your Thanksgiving traditions!

Pumpkin Pie

1 9-inch pie crust
3 large eggs
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 – 15 ounce can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

*this time I used Trader Joe’s pre-made crust, I’m still looking for the perfect pie crust recipe. Any suggestions?

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and place on a large baking pan to catch any spills. To keep the crust from burning, you can cover just the edges of the pie with foil for up to half of the baking time. Bake the pie for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust has browned (the center will still look wet with just a slight jiggle and a knife inserted about 1 inch from side of pan will come out almost clean.)

Allow to cool on a wire rack, serve at room temperature with whipped cream.

Adapted from Joy of Baking