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If roast turkey is America’s signature Thanksgiving entrée, then surely pumpkin pie is that holiday’s must-have dessert. Pumpkins are native to the New World, and the Pilgrims made good use of them in those early lean years around what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. In fact, the first Thanksgiving dinner, in 1621, featured pumpkin pudding baked in a hollowed-out pumpkin shellthe precursor of today’s pie.
Since pumpkin is such a rich, earthy flavor, we enjoy making this deep-gold pie in a crust to match: one made from whole wheat and oats, with a touch of cinnamon.
This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, featuring delicious recipes using nutritious whole grains. It’s the biggest, most comprehensive whole-grain baking book on the market today.
2/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) old-fashioned or quick rolled oats, ground for 30 seconds in a food processor
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) King Arthur whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 to 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 to 2 ounces) cold milk or half and half
a scant 2 cups (15-ounce can) puréed pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) half and half or light cream
3/4 cup (9 ounces) honey
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dark or spiced rum, optional
To make the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the oats, flours, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes, and work it into the dry ingredients (using your fingers, a pastry blender or fork, or a mixer) until the dough is unevenly crumbly. Sprinkle in the milk, continuing to mix until the dough is cohesive. Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly, and doesn’t seem at all dry or crumbly, you’ve added enough liquid.
Shape the dough into a disk. Roll its edges along a floured work surface (as though the disk were a wheel), in order to smooth them out. Pat the disk till it’s about 1" thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to warm a bit and become flexible, 15 to 30 minutes. Flour your work surface, and roll the dough into a 12" circle. It may crack a bit around the edge; that’s OK. Just patch the crust once it’s in the pan. Transfer the dough to a regular (not deep-dish) 9" pie pan that’s at least 1 ¼" deep. Trim and crimp the edges, making a tall crimp. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, mix together all of the filling ingredients until smooth.
To assemble and bake the pie: Remove the crust from the refrigerator. Pour in the filling. Cover the edge of the crust with a crust shield, or aluminum foil. Place the pie on the bottom rack of your oven, and bake it for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, move the pie to the middle rack, and bake for an additional 35 minutes, or until the temperature at the center is at least 170°F, and a knife inserted 1" from the edge comes out moist, but clean. Remove the pie from the oven, and cool to room temperature (or chill) before serving. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Yield: 1 pie, about 8 to 10 servings.