Saturday, November 5, 2011

RECIPE: Pumpkin Pie ... with Cheesecake?

I know what you're thinking.

No, really, I do.

Never mind what you're thinking.  What I'm thinking is,

"This is a delicious pumpkin pie."

Thus begins the epic saga of how I learned to make pumpkin pie from scratch, without all of the proper ingredients, and with a few random additions (and substitutions).  I combined three existing recipes (not counting the one I used to make my pumpkin seeds), one each for the pie crust, pumpkin-from-an-actual-pumpkin filling, and the mascarpone filling recipe my sister introduced me to.

To bake this pie, which is a fairly complicated process, I first cut up the pumpkin and threw it in the oven to bake for 90 minutes, then mixed the dough and put it in the fridge to chill for an hour, then mixed the fillings (including the pumpkin filling after the pumpkin came out of the oven), then rolled out the crust, filled the pie, and put it in the oven.  It was the perfect pacing ... not quite rushed, but my hands were busy up until the moment I put the pie in the oven.  I used the time the pie was in the oven to clean up my huge mass of dirty dishes ... and to start drafting this blog.

Making pies is a dirty business!

Without further ado, I give you:


1 pie pumpkin (also called a sugar pumpkin)


Cut off the stem of your pumpkin and cut the gourd in half.  Scoop out the seeds, setting aside for roasting (this way, or this other way), and getting rid of the stringy pulp.  Place the two halves cut edge down on a foiled baking sheet, and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 to 90 minutes, until a fork can poke easily through the outer skin.

Remove from the oven, turn over, and (carefully!) scoop the pumpkin flesh into a large glass bowl.  Do not burn yourself doing this!

Use a hand mixer or immersion blender to cream the flesh until it's almost creamy in texture.  Then, measure out what you need for your pie and set the remaining filling aside.

Next, mix your pie crust so that it has time to chill.



1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour, plus extra for rolling

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into small cubes
3 to 5 Tablespoons ice water, very cold


As soon as you think of making a pie crust, run to your fridge, cut up a stick of butter, and put it into the freezer.  I cannot stress how important the chill factor of your butter is to making a good pie crust ... and, ideally, the longer you freeze it, the better (even overnight ... or longer).

Place the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined.  Add half of the butter and pulse 6 to 8 times.  Add the other half of the butter and pulse until you have a mixture that resembles coarse meal, with pea-size chunks of butter throughout.

Add two tablespoons of your ice-cold water to the food processor and pulse a couple of times.  Then, add more ice water, about one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture just barely begins to clump together (I used 4 tablespoons).  If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready.

Place the mixture on a clean, smooth surface.  Using your (clean) hands, press the dough together and shape into a disc.  Knead only enough to just bring the dough together.  Do not over-knead!  You should be able to see little bits of butter speckling the dough.  Visible pieces of butter are a good thing.  Sprinkle the disc with a little extra flour on all sides and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.  You can keep the dough frozen for months, if you take the time to defrost in a refrigerator prior to use.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface.  Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then sprinkle some flour on top.  Using Roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick.  As you roll, check to make sure the dough is not sticking to the counter.  If it is, sprinkle a little more flour underneath.

To transfer the pie crust, fold in half over a long knife, then pull the knife out from in between.  Carefully lift off of the counter with both hands, and place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan.  Gently unfold and press down into the pie plate.  My sister gave me a lovely cranberry-enameled stoneware deep-dish pie plate, and this recipe is the perfect size for it.

Next, prepare the fillings.


8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese or mascarpone, softened 
1 slightly beaten egg yolk
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Once the pumpkin is tender and out of the oven, turn the temperature up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, egg yolk, honey, and vanilla with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until smooth.  
Set aside.

1 1/4 cups fresh-baked pumpkin pulp 
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice


In a separate mixing bowl from the cream cheese mixture, beat together the pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, brown sugar, lemon juice, and spices until smooth, about a minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula for an even mixture.

 ... and, all together now:

Pour the pumpkin filling into the crust-lined pie plate, and drop the cream cheese mixture on top by the spoonful.  Use a thin spatula or a butter knife to swirl the two mixtures together in as artful a display as you can think up.

Bake in the 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 50 minutes, or until the top of the pie is puffy and browning, and a knife or toothpick comes out clean (mine had to bake for 60 minutes).  Check on your pie about 40 minutes in.  If the crust is turning dark, take the pie out and apply foil to the rim, then replace in the oven for the remainder of your baking time.

When completely done, remove the pie from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then cover and chill for two or more hours before serving.

And ... enjoy!

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