In the spirit of doing everything the hard way, here’s how we make pumpkin pie on the farm.*
Step 1: Plant a pumpkin seed. When it sprouts, excitedly over-water it to death. (You can skip that part if you want.) Buy a pumpkin plant at the nursery (no shame in that, level of difficulty remains high) and plant it in your garden. Do not over-water.
Step 2. Grow. This process is pretty spectacular so be sure to share it extensively on social media. All of your friends are just as excited as you are. About pumpkins.
Step 3. Harvest. Size matters, which is to say: variety matters. These are Baby Bear Pumpkins. I also grew a variety called New England Pie - in case there was any confusion as to their destiny. Enormous grocery-store jack-o-lantern pumpkins are another variety entirely - great for carving and not as good for baking. Harvest your pumpkins when they are orange and sound hollow when thumped.
Step 4: Roast. JFC we’re at Step 4 and there’s still NO PIE. Cut up your pumpkins into wedges and discard the stems and pumpkin goop. (Save the seeds. If you’re like me, you’ll save the seeds for about a week and then throw them out when you still haven’t toasted them up for a healthy snack.) I roasted the pumpkin on an unlined baking sheet with no salt or oil, flesh side up, in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. The pumpkin should be tender when you test it with a fork.
Step 5: Purée. Let the roasted pumpkin cool and scoop/scrape/cut the peel away from the flesh with a paring knife. Put the pumpkin flesh in a food processor and whirl until smooth. Add a little water if needed. Freeze the purée if you’re not using it right away.
Step 6. Bake! I’m not an expert, but this pie is everything I ever want - crisp, sweet/spicy crust and a creamy custard full of flavor.
For the crust
8 oz. gingersnaps
1 tsp. candied ginger
1 tbsp. brown sugar
4-6 oz. butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a food processor and pulse to create crumbs. Add just enough melted butter to moisten the cookie crumbs, so that you can work with it. Start with the smallest amount of butter - too much butter will result in a greasy/soggy crust, NO. Press the cookie crumb mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of a deep-dish pie plate. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let the pie crust cool while you mix the custard.
For the custard
15 oz. (2 cups) pumpkin purée
1-1/2 cups half-n-half
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Pour into the gingersnap crust and set the pie plate on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour - until the edges of the custard are set and the center is still jiggly. Cool for at least 3 hours before serving.
Can be baked a couple of days ahead - cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Refrigerated leftovers with keep for 3 or 4 days. As if.