Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Delicious Pumpkin Pie

Delicious Pumpkin Pie
This is for the Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #12, If They Had It...
"Have you ever looked through a cookbook from another era and been surprised at the modern dishes you find? Have you ever been surprised at just how much they differ from their modern counterparts? Recreate a dish which is still around today, even if it may look a little - or a lot - different!

Really I was just making a pie for my father.  Our Halloween pumpkins are nearing the end of their edible stage & so I have to start cutting & boiling & freezing. So I figured, why not make that pie he's been pining for & knock off a challenge as well?  I also used it as an excuse to try yet another pie crust as my go-to is a thing of the past since no one on earth makes a shortening without palm or coconut oil anymore.  I love pie, but I'm not going to die for it.  Let me just say, this crust was not the new It.

Both of these came from Buckeye Cookery 1877 (yeah, I know, yawn... but the recipes taste good... I just had my first flop today for Pete's sake!).


Cut a pumpkin into thin slices, and boil until tender in as little water as possible, watching carefully that it does not scorch; set the stew-kettle on top of stove, mash the pumpkin fine, heaping it against the sides of the kettle so that the water may drain from it and dry away; repeat this process until the water has all evaporated, and the pumpkin is quite dry. This will require from half an
hour to an hour. Mash and rub through a sieve, adding, while warm, a good-sized lump of butter; to every quart of pumpkin, after it is mashed, add two quarts of milk and six eggs, the yolks and whites beaten separately, sugar to taste, one tea-spoon salt, table-spoon ground cinnamon, one grated nutmeg, tea-spoon ginger; bake in a hot oven until well set and a nice brown. It is as well to heat the batter scalding hot, stirring constantly until it is poured into the pie-dishes.--Mrs. Gov. Irwin, California.


To one pint of sifted flour, add one even tea-spoon baking powder, and sweet cream enough to wet the flour, leaving crust a little stiff. This is enough for two pies.
Please note that pumpkin is yellow-orange not deep orange.

The Delicious Pumpkin Pie... oh yes, yes it is!  I made a 1/2 recipe based on my tiny stew pumpkin, so it looks like this:
2 c. pumpkin
4 c. milk (I ended up using 2 cups of organic almond milk, so we got vanilla even though the recipe doesn't call for it, and the 2 cups were because I was nearly out & the kid NEEDS his ah-ma milck!!!!  PEESCHE!!!)
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger

- First you have to cut up the pumpkin, so get choppin!  I just took the stem out & sliced it like a melon, then cut the guts off the slices vs. scooping.  I reserved the seeds to roast tomorrow.  Chunk it. Cut the skin off. 
- I put it in a steamer first, then decided to follow the directions and boil it... When I do this again, I'll just steam it so I don't have to swear after the next step.
- Mash it.
Reduce the liquid in the pumpkin mash.
- (here is where steaming would have saved me some agony) Boil off all that excess water.  Oops.  Anyway, that took nearly 2 hours all told.  45 minutes at first when I thought it was done.  Then...
- Run it through the food mill.
- Reboil it to really get rid of all that excess water.
- Add 1-2 tbsp of butter while the pumpkin is hot.
- Mix dry ingredients together & set aside.
- Separate egg yolks from whites and beat both separately.
- Add milk to pumpkin mix & stir.
- Beat in beaten yolks & whites (ha).
- Add dry ingredients.

Now, go ahead & pre-heat your oven to 375F
- Put the whole pumpkin mixture into a large sauce pan & simmer it on LOW, stirring occasionally to scald the milk.  Don't cook it on high.

(This was a total flop.  It makes good crackers.)
I thought 4 cups would be too much, but it's really a comfortable amount for a nice, thick crust.  This is the recipe for the "by the skin of your teeth for 2 9" pies."
3 c. flour, sifted.
3/4 tsp baking powder
10 tbsp milk (almond milk) added slowly.
Let's just call this Leather Crust

Now, pour the filling into the pie shells (having the foresight to use a different recipe than the one listed above), and bake on 375 for 45-55 minutes.  Some people bake it on 425 for 15 minutes & then turn it down to 375 for the remainder of the time, but I think cooking it on the stove first accomplishes that.

The crust shrank & pulled away from the edge of the dish.
It also slides around and is as hard as shoe leather.
Aunty Phelps was a bad pastry maker.

Time: All flippin' day.  Not even kidding.  I cut the pumpkin at 10:00 this morning and the pies came out of the oven at 4:15.  A lot of that time was just 'set the timer' and do something else, but this was not Libby's pumpkin from a can.  I still haven't managed the dishes.
Cost: Probably less than $5.  It was a $2 pumpkin and about $3 for everything else that I had on hand (rough estimate for eggs, flour, almond milk, spices & sugar)
How Accurate was it?  So-so.  I substituted cow milk for Wegmans Organic Almond Milk, which has a lot more than just almonds in it, so that trashed the purely historic flavor, but saved my son's tummy.  I used the typical modern cooking equipment, but used the right hand tools.  Next time I'll steam the pumpkin to save on time in reducing water.
Results:  The filling is excellent.  We all like it.  It has a cleaner flavor than the typical canned pumpkin and separating the yolks from the whites and beating them separately gave it a lighter texture than just beating everything together all at once.  Pre-heating the filling on the stove is brilliant. 
The crust was blah.  I mean, really, really blah.  Also tough as linoleum.  But I guess you'll never know unless you try.