The other day, my mother ended up having to rush out to pick people up and wasn’t going to be able to put together her pumpkin stuff. Looking for something to do, I spied the canned pumpkin. Now, I’ve never made pumpkin pie before. But knowing that those cans of potential deliciousness might go back into the cupboard? I knew I had to do something!
My mother is gluten gree, so I ended up making two dishes. The first, a pumpkin pie with graham cracker crust. The second, a custard that she could eat. I had two hours and the hands of my stepfather, and damnned if I wasn’t going to get them done before the turkey had to go in.
I also was going to do it sans recipes.
I’ve observed Graham cracker crusts, and helped older relatives with them a number of times. So this wasn’t that hard.
I had a pack of Graham crackers, a half stick of butter, a dash of vanilla, and a pinch of walnuts. Also used: a little water, a pot, a mixing bowl, a thin sliver of cream cheese, and a cake pan.
The Graham crackers went through the nut crusher/chopper that my stepfather had been using for walnuts for the stuffing and were made mostly fine and powdery. I added a grab of walnuts to one of the crushing rounds on impulse – we don’t have anyone here who is allergic to nuts. We added a dash/small lid full of vanilla extract and stirred it well.
While this was happening, I had my stepfather melt half a stick of butter and a tiny sliver of cream cheese in the pot. He added a little water to it of his accord. Once melted – and yes, the cream cheese did look odd – it was combined with the dry mix. It came out a lot wetter than I’m used to. When we put it in the cake pan, it was a little too wet at first. Thankfully there were still a couple of Graham crackers available, so we crushed those, sprinkled them on top, and they absorbed some of the excess moisture.
This went into the oven at 350° for 7 minutes, and it actually rose and bubbled a little.
The Pumpkin Filling
At first, I thought I was making two pies, one with and one without crust. So everything was…a lot.
- Large Pot
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Large fork
- Stove top
- Can opener
et des ingredients:
- Two cans unspiced pumpkin
- White sugar
- Two eggs
- A block of Cream Cheese
- Half stick butter
- All Spice
- Vanilla extract
The other half of stick of butter and the block of Cream Cheese went into the pot on the stove to melt down. I stirred it occasionally, But while it was melting I went over to the mixing bowl to mix my “dry” ingredients.
I don’t know how much sugar I put in that bowl. Probably a cup and a half? Maybe? I knew it was about right when I mind-balanced it with the unsweetened canned pumpkin. It might have even been two cups. I added a (small) cap-full of vanilla extract, along with a teaspoon each of cinnamon and all spice.
All of these dry-ingredients were stirred until uniform in color and texture. Then it was back over to stirring the melting pot. Thankfully, the time that the dry part took meant that it was near the point for adding the canned pumpkin.
Canned pumpkin comes in a range of conditions. You can get it sweetened, un-sweetened, already pie-worthy, or plain. As you might guess from all my talk of sugar and spices, our pumpkin was unsweetened, unspiced, and un-anything really. It was just cooked and mushed pumpkin in a can.
I confess to having a mini incident while adding the pumpkin – while shaking the pumpkin out of the can, a largish blob came out on the stove top and had to be hastily scooped back into the pot. But after that, it was all very simple. I stirred the pumpkin in to the cream cheese-butter mixture until it was smooth and evenly colored. I forget the order of the next part, but it happened all at once, so it isn’t as much of an issue.
The two eggs were added, making sure the yolks were broken. These were thoroughly blended in with the pumpkin mess. The dry mixture was also added and blended in until it reached a uniform color and texture. This is the point where it becomes the pumpkin-y brown we associate with pumpkin foods. Before this, it was the bland light orange of pumpkin meat on its own.
You notice that I never changed the heat of the stove from the low for melting the butter, and neither did I remove the pot from the stove. The heat helped with the blending process I think. I know it seemed to help activate the spices. In any case, once all this stirring turned into a creamy gloopy concoction, I poured enough of it into the waiting crust so that it seemed to be a full pie.
I still had a lot of pumpkin left, and it wasn’t all going into another cake pan. New plan: get out the casserole dish and make this into some custard!
Before this day, I had made sponge cake, strange egg-y concoctions to trick my stomach on Passover, and instant-mix custard. I had never even attempted a proper custard, and some might say that this doesn’t count either. I say: it certainly came out custard-y and was delicious. If Jen over with Morbid Curiosity Mondays can call some of the recipes she digs up “salads” in the face of having it not resemble a salad at all because the recipe author calls it that, people can leave me to call this a custard even if it doesn’t meet your average custard component standards.
So, where was I? Oh yes, the left over pie filling goodness. Knowing that a pie wasn’t really an option for my dear GF mother, the appeal of custard grew. I think never having made custard before also added to this appeal the same way my first attempt at sponge cake was 10xs as appealing because it was a New Accomplishmentâ„¢. So I scrambled my brain for what custard is and, dodging the images of Matt Smith eating fish fingers and custard in his role as the 11th Doctor, I settled on a plan.
Added to the mix: a cup of half-and-half, two more eggs, and a half cup brown sugar.
The half-and-half was added in two stages. First, about half a cup was mixed in to the still-on-the-stove pumpkin mixture. The eggs were added in the same way I added them for the pie and stirred in. Then I stirred in the rest of the half-and-half.
I wasn’t satisfied with it. Stirring the now warm-enough-to-be-bubbling mixture, I eyed the texture. It wasn’t holding the impressions of the whisk long enough, I decided. Stirring, I thought. More eggs? No, don’t want it too eggy. Starch is no good and a pain to stir in at this point and not have lumps.
Ah ha! Brown sugar! The molasses in the brown sugar should help the texture, and it will be a tiny bit sweeter. So in went a half cup-ish brown sugar, which was stirred in. Finally it was at a satisfying texture. I poured it into the Casserole Dish, used the whisk to make the top textured so it wouldn’t look like a loaf, and prepared to bake.
The Oven and The Final Touches
The oven stayed at 350°. The pie went in for 40 minutes, the custard for 35. The custard was ready when the knife came out with relatively little left, the pie when the edges were firmed up. Both were taken out and then I looked at them.
They looked okay, but I wanted to add a finishing touch. I mixed a pinch of all spice, a pinch of cinnamon, and a little bit of powdered sugar in a cup until it was a uniform color and then lightly sprinkled it over both dishes.
They were covered with a towel until dinner time- 4-5 hours later. Both were probably ready after two hours, but the turkey sadly was not. (The turkey was also Not My Problem.)
I’ll end now before this gets any longer. My brother did get photos before my family ate them ALL up – seriously, he even complimented me a good deal on it and if he gives me any compliments I know it was superb – but he has yet to send them to me. I’ll share them when (and if) I get them?
Originally posted at Nico Noms.