This weekend I planned to cook up a storm – I have two upcoming pie baking classes to teach and a deadline for a magazine article at the end of the month. I had the ingredients, a plan, and actually the time I needed, so what could go wrong? Well, let me tell you.
The first order of business was a maple pumpkin pie that I thought would be a great seasonal addition to my pie class. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on any fresh sugar pumpkins, so I used an old trick of draining canned pumpkin puree to remove excess water and intensify the pumpkin flavor. I made the dough, the decorative leaves for the topping and it was beautiful. See the pictures? The only problem was that it tasted terrible. The filling didn’t set up the way it should have and as a result it did unfortunate things to the crust.
The pie ended up in the garbage, but it was not a total loss. It reinforced a belief that I always had about pumpkin pie but have never actually tested….it should be baked in a shallow pie dish. To allow the filling to properly set up without over cooking the crust, you shouldn’t use a deep dish pie plate.
On Sunday, I decided to give it another try and although this pie was not nearly as attractive, it hit the mark I was looking for. I ditched the first recipe and worked off a tried and true recipe that I had from my grandmother with a few twists. The result was a properly set up pie with a good crust and a filling with the depth of flavor I was hoping for.
The truth is that not everything you attempt will turn out great. Some of it will be downright awful, but that is where our greatest opportunities for growth as cooks come from. What didn’t work in the recipe? Was it a particular flavor, the technique? What can you change to make it better?
This time it only took me two tries to get what I was looking for, but honestly sometimes it takes multiple failures before I achieve the desired result. There are many dishes that I try that don’t make it to this blog, because I decide they still need more work before I am ready to share, or sometimes because they just aren’t “pretty” enough.
The next time a dish fails to live up to your expectations, don’t give up on it, just keep on trying.
Not-so Pretty Espresso Pumpkin Pie
- 1 28-oz can Pure Pumpkin Puree (Net 1 ½ cups) or roasted pumpkin puree, drained
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2/3 cup baker’s sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ginger
- ½ tsp. allspice
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tblsp. instant espresso
- 1 can evaporated milk
- Crust for 1 – 9” shallow pie plate (use an all shortening crust for this recipe as butter in the crust, ends up tough)
Begin by lining a sieve with two paper towels and setting over a bowl. Spoon the pumpkin puree into the paper towel lined sieve and allow to drain. If necessary, gently squeeze the pumpkin in the paper towels until you have drained off about 1 cup of water.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt & espresso. Next measure out 1 ½ cups of the drained pumpkin puree and whisk into egg & spice mixture. Finally, whisk in the evaporated milk.
Roll out your pie crust and line the pie plate creating high fluted edges.
Fill with the pumpkin puree.
Using aluminum foil or edge protectors, cover the edges of your pie and transfer to preheated 425° oven for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350°, remove edge protectors and continue cooking for 45 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with freshly whipped cream.
Note: One of the other things I learned is that my new favorite crust recipe doesn’t work well with pumpkin filling. I prefer my original all shortening crust for this application as it tends to stay flakier and not toughen up on the bottom the way a crust made with butter does.