“Pie makes everybody happy.” ~ Laurie Halse Anderson

NOTE: I spend my Wednesdays Unplugged from appointments. It’s my day to stay home, enjoy cooking and welcome our kids and grandkids for dinner in the evening. We end our meal with quotes from the Norwegian ‘Quote Cup’ passed on to me from my grandmother. I share a quote and a recipe here each week, along with an update and photos of what has been going on in our lives. I love trying new recipes…and love getting recipes you would like to share!

Our holiday season officially began last week with the Children’s Theater production of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ What was especially fun about this production is that our grandkids’ neighborhood friend, who has come with us to a number of CTC productions, is part of the Who  Ensemble for this show… very cool seeing a friend onstage in this outstanding show! Also cool seeing the Kerlan Collection display from their archives of original manuscripts, proofs, etc.


When I got an email from Bon Appetit talking about the best canned pumpkin it got me thinking about the amazing pumpkin pie I made and wrote about a number of years ago. Most significant about making that pie for me was creating the pumpkin puree from scratch, from a real pumpkin! The taste was fabulous but it was also very time-consuming, something I find in short supply these days. Bon Appetit had me when they gave the opinion that canned pumpkin was even better than homemade… read what they said below…

Now, what would you say if we told you that you could find a product that’s just as good—nay, better!—sealed into a ready-to-buy can? Carry on, you say? We’re talking about Libby’s 100% pure organic pumpkin, the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen’s go-to for all manner of pumpkin desserts for as long as we can remember. It’s got the lowest water content of any canned pumpkin product around, which means it has the most concentrated flavor. It’s perfectly apportioned for a 9″ pie, meaning you won’t have to waste a single drop. Oh, and it’ll save you valuable time and a whole lot of grief.  – from Bon Appetit, November 2017

The story of the scratch pie I made in 2009 follows…

First step was getting the pumpkin. I learned pie pumpkins are not the same as jack-o-lantern pumpkins, which are too large and stringy. A pie pumpkin is a sugar pumpkin, surprisingly small. You should pick a pumpkin that is firm, well-shaped and heavy for its size with a hard, tough skin…or stop at Sweet Corn and More (has since closed) and have them help you pick out a good one! My husband stopped to pick up the pumpkins and was told he didn’t really want the ones he picked out…the owner hand selected a couple for him!

After researching various ways to prepare the pumpkin, I decided to bake it. It was very easy, and the skin slipped right off after it was baked. I followed one recommendation to drain the pumpkin after pureeing it and would highly recommend it. I was surprised how much liquid was in the bottom of the bowl the next day. One thing that has always bothered me about many pumpkin pies I have had is they get ‘slimy’ after the first day. This one did not at all. The filling was deliciously ‘bulky’, and did not ‘leak’ even after several days!

The pie crust recipe I used was from allrecipes.com, a prize winner with a rating of 4.7 after over 200 reviews. It uses butter for flavor and shortening for flakiness. Rolling it out between two sheets of plastic wrap was neat, clean and easy.

I decided to use a filling recipe from Moosewood Restaurant. I read many comments on what a difference fresh ginger can make in any pie recipe so substituted fresh grated ginger for powdered, doubling the amount. Next time I may try powdered to compare…may also experiment with different spice variations. I used dark molasses, may try light next time. I loved the consistency of the filling, with 4 eggs making it more like a custard. I baked it just until the center no longer jiggled, then turned off the oven and let the filling finish setting as the oven cooled.


PREPARING THE PUMPKIN – 1-3 days before baking the pie

Select a firm, well-shaped sugar pumpkin that is heavy for its size and has a hard, tough skin. One pumpkin will make one pie. Cut it in half from top to bottom by the stem. Remove the seeds and lightly oil the cut surface. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with foil that has been lightly oiled. Bake at 325 degrees F until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork, about 1-2 hours. Cool until warm, then slip off the skin. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor. Line a large strainer with cheesecloth, place the strainer in a large bowl, and pour in the pureed pumpkin. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pumpkin and put it all in the refrigerator overnight. Puree can be refrigerated up to three days before use.

BAKER’S SECRET PIE CRUST – single crust, 9 1/2″ deep dish

  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 cubes ice
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Measure butter and shortening onto a plate, put into freezer for about 20 minutes.

Measure cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix. Take 1/2 of the cold butter and shortening, put into processor with dry ingredients and pulse off and on for about 1 minute, scraping down a couple times. Add the rest of the cold butter and shortening and pulse briefly, leaving pea-sized chunks. Do not over process.

In a measuring cup, mix egg yolk and vinegar together, add ice cubes and water and chill 3-4 minutes. Remove mixture from food processor, place in large mixing bowl and sprinkle with 4-5 tablespoons of the egg mixture a little at a time, mixing gently with a fork until it clings together. You do not want the mixture to be wet or over-mixed.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few minutes. Roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap and mold to a 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie plate. Let it rest in the refrigerator for 40 minutes to relax the gluten and reduce shrinkage, then place it in the freezer for 20 minutes to increase flakiness. Take it from the freezer, add filling and bake immediately.


  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger (I used 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, gives a slightly different flavor) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 can evaporated milk (or 2 cups scalded milk)

Mix in order given. Pour into pie shell and bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes or longer, until set.

About Sharlene Hensrud

I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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