The Basic Recipe
1 can pumpkin
cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt
some milky liquid
(bottom crust only)
Add everything in order, mix well, put it in the crust, and bake it at around 350 F for 40-60 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.
Details and Variations
As a substitute for canned pumpkin, you can use canned sweet potato (which I prefer), or you can bake a squash or a couple of sweet potatoes. (Technically, the white and orange ones are all sweet potatoes, but colloquially the orange ones are called yams.) To bake a squash, cut it in half or smaller, take out the seeds and strings, and put the halves face down in a glass pan with water in the bottom. I recommend a long slow cook, maybe 300 degrees for 90 minutes. Squash for pie should be thoroughly soft and wet.
I've heard that canned pumpkin is really some kind of squash, and I wouldn't blame them. I've tried baking "sugar pumpkin" several times and it's always tough and flavorless compared to acorn or butternut squash. And jack-o-lantern pumpkins are much worse!
If you want to roast the seeds, you don't have to get fancy. I don't even rinse them. I just pick the strings out, leave some orange slimy stuff on them, mix some salt in with my fingers, and bake at about 250, checking them and mixing them up until they're just starting to turn brown.
Mix the spices into the pumpkin first, because if you wait until the filling is too runny they'll get lumpy. I wrote them in order of most to least, and it's hard to go wrong on the quantities, except keep the nutmeg down or it will make the pie too bitter. If you have fresh ginger and a good garlic press, that's even better than powdered ginger. Salt is important to help the eggs firm up.
Eggs are important for texture. Without them the pie will have a slimy gaggy consistency that is often marketed as "creamy". With eggs you'll get a lighter custardy texture. There must be some vegan substitutes that will work, but I haven't experimented to find out which ones are good.
For sweetener I use either real maple syrup or Rapunzel whole cane sugar (formerly called Rapadura). Or you could use barley malt or brown rice sweetener or molasses or agave syrup or concentrated fruit juice. White sugar
is bad for you. The amount of sweetener is not important, except for the taste.
I use the phrase "milky liquid" because many things will work. Most recipes call for either canned evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk, which are completely unnecessary and didn't even exist when pumpkin pie was invented. Good whole milk
will work best with the eggs to make a good texture, but you could also try whipping cream, ice cream, rice milk, almond milk, or even water. I avoid soy
. If you're using a liquid sweetener, you might not need any additional liquid. Or you could experiment with a dry thick filling and see how it comes out.
(public domain, 24 november 2005, last updated November 2009)