My mother's kind of pumpkin pie
A new pumpkin pie recipe was no match for a family favorite.
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The pies are two inches thick and when you bite into a piece, the flavor grabs you. The thickness greatly enhances the flavor – there is simply more pumpkin to enjoy with each bite. It's certainly not just the recipe that makes the flavor unique – Mom uses the Libby's recipe that thousands of women use every year. There are a couple of changes – beside the thickness – she prefers the canned pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie filling, and she uses pumpkin pie spice, not separate spices. "That's already in the spice mix," she says.Skip to next paragraph
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Some people are adamant about their recipes. I like to think of myself as someone who is open to new ways of approaching food – the opposite of Mom and my mother-in-law, who are both set in their food ways. For example, when I mentioned the recipe I was trying out to my mom, she said, "That's not pumpkin pie."
When I occasionally talk about my mother's thick pumpkin pie with my mother-in-law, she says, "I prefer mine thin" – leaving no doubt.
My mother, however, is against thinness on all matters – most particularly anything to do with baking. "When I want a piece of pie, I want a piece of pie," she states emphatically.
No matter how far I think I've come, I will always return to the recipe that really satisfies me, even though I am the wayward daughter, the one who makes my mother throw up her hands, and my father shake his head. Yet, how wayward can I be if all it takes is a new pumpkin pie recipe to make me feel a twinge of betrayal?
Mom's Thick Pumpkin Pie
This is the traditional holiday pumpkin pie, a classic recipe that has been on the label of Libby's canned pumpkin since 1950. It's an easy pie to prepare: Just mix, pour, and bake. My mother uses 2-inch-deep pie pans and doubles this recipe, filling the pie shells quite high. She says that the doubled recipe yields a pie and a half. Also, she does not use the spices called for here. She uses pumpkin pie spice and "some" cinnamon, calculating how much pumpkin pie spice she needs by adding up all the other spices called for – more or less.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl.
Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Then serve or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving, if desired.
Mrs. Rowe's Spicy Pumpkin Pie
This deep-orange, almost-brown pie gives off a heavenly scent as it bakes. It offers a warmer, richer twist to the traditional pumpkin pie recipe. It's more spicy than sweet. This recipe will be in "Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies" (Ten Speed Press, 2009).
1 (1-pound, 13-ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups half-and-half, scalded
2 (10-inch) pie shells (with high-fluted edges)
8 ounces heavy cream, whipped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix pumpkin, sugar, molasses, salt, spices, and eggs in a bowl. Gradually stir in the half-and-half. Pour into pie shells. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the center of filling looks firm. Cool and top with whipped cream. Makes 2 pies.