A Google of “pumpkin pie for those who don’t like pumpkin pie” yielded this beauty which will impress all but the most resistant of the pumpkin pie averse.
Fluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie from smittenkitchen.com.
Of all our cultural oddities, it’s hard to find one more deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness than the pumpkin. Sure, you can say that we share the joy with the Americans, but when it comes to pumpkin, don’t worry. There is plenty to go around!
Pumpkins say autumn with all that entails. Certainly the abundance of harvest. At that magical time of year between the closing of the pool and the putting on of the snow tires, there suddenly appears a profusion of pumpkins! They are everywhere! And their appearance inevitably evokes cozy memories of newspapers strewn on the kitchen table, the carefully selected pumpkin ripe for slaughter, the digging of stringy, seedy slime from the musky interior, all under the watchful eye of a loving relative wielding a large, sharp knife. Once a rudimentary face has been carved, always to admiring huzzahs, and the lid fits, the pumpkin is placed by the front door for all to see. No longer intended to frighten away evil spirits, it is still, for all children across the land, a rite of passage from summer to hockey season, and a firmly embedded childhood memory.
We all love fall, the beautiful trees, the crisp, cool air, the evenings gathered around the fire-pit wrapped in wool. But lurking ever closer is the inevitability of winter. There are reports of snowstorms coming from the west. With pictures. It’s time for pumpkin pies and everything else pumpkin spicy, to assure us the it’s still lovely fall. There is still time.
But much of the glorious traditional pumpkin pie ritual is based on a corporate lie. Between the pie purist who begins the pie making ritual with an actual pumpkin, and the gitter done baker who purchases a frozen pie shell into which he or she pours canned pumpkin pie filling, there lies the bulk of the baking population: those who roll their pastry, blind bake it, and follow a recipe based on canned pumpkin puree, ostensibly pureed pumpkin flesh. Herein lies the lie. It has come to light, and spread like wildfire on Facebook, that canned pumpkin puree is not pumpkin at all, but rather squash. Apparently pumpkin, unlike squash it’s more reliable relative, tends to be rather stringy and more watery, hence less useful in the creation of “pumpkin puree”. So why not just bill it as “squash puree” you wonder? Well, for one thing, it’s hard enough to get folks excited about “pumpkin pie” – especially those of Dutch heritage, I’ve found. Can you imagine the uphill battle of selling “squash pie” at the church supper?
So with a wink and a smile, we continue the fiction that pumpkin pie is pumpkin and all’s right with the world. Except the poor purists who start with a pumpkin and wonder why their pie never quite matches up to the pies of those who use canned puree. It might be time to let them in on the secret.
And we do have to consider those hapless folk who just can’t get with the joy of the whole pumpkin pie experience. Often it’s the baby food texture and general squishy squashiness. A Google of “pumpkin pie for those who don’t like pumpkin pie” yielded this beauty which will impress all but the most resistant of the pumpkin pie averse.
Fluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk Pie from smittenkitchen.com.
“This gently spiced pie is lighter in texture than your average pumpkin pie, thanks to beaten egg whites folded into the tangy filling. The kind of cinnamon you use here is key: Go for a less assertive one, such as Indonesian Korintje or Ceylon cinnamon rather than Vietnamese (Saigon) cinnamon, which is bolder and spicier. The gingersnap crust, which caramelizes and crisps a bit during baking, complements the filling nicely.
You'll need a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate.
Serve with whipped cream.”
FOR THE CRUST
6 1/2 tablespoons (generous 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups crushed gingersnaps (from 8 3/4 ounces or about 24 gingersnap cookies)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners' sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
FOR THE FILLING
1 1/4 cups (12 1/2 ounces) canned pumpkin puree (100 percent pumpkin; do not use pumpkin pie filling *wink*)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Korintje or Ceylon (see headnote)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (4 ounces) turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons flour
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-inch glass pie plate with a bit of the melted butter.
Stir together the crushed gingersnaps, confectioners' sugar and sea salt in a medium bowl, then mix in the remaining melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate, making sure it's packed in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is just starting to brown at the edges; do not over-bake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you make the filling; keep the oven on.
For the filling: Combine the pumpkin puree, melted butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and salt in a large bowl, stirring until well incorporated. Whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, turbinado sugar and flour in a liquid measuring cup, then stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment) or a handheld electric mixer; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Use a flexible spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture just until no trace of white remains. Pour the filling into the cooled gingersnap crust, using the spatula to slightly mound the filling in the center.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until just set/barely jiggly. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours before serving or storing.
Create the memories. Accept the lies. Enjoy the season. It’s fleeting.