This sweet custardy pie is most associated with America and Canada’s Thanksgivings, during the fall when pumpkins are ripe and ready to be harvested. However, placing pureed pumpkins or squashes and spices in a pastry shell is not a North American creation. Pumpkin pie–or pumpion pye–first appeared in England in the 17th century. Recipes with pumpion started appearing, like Hannah Wolley’s To Make a Pumpion Pie from her book “The Queen-Like Closet”.
Wolley’s recipe says to:
Take a Pumpion, pare it, and cut it in thin slices, dip it in beaten Eggs and Herbs shred small, and fry it till it be enough, then lay it into a Pie with Butter, Raisins, Currans, Sugar and Sack, and in the bottom some sharp Apples; when it is baked, butter it and serve it in. (Courtesy of Amanda E. Herbert‘s A pumpkin pie recipe from the 17th-century England article.)
This sounds nothing like the custardy pumpkin pie Americans and Canadians are used to today, however, it is the ancestor of this most beloved pie at Thanksgiving.
American Thanksgiving is still two months away, but fall is already in the air. And with this weather, I am ready for my fair share of pumpkin pie. Every year, I like to make my own pies from scratch, rather than buying the ready-made ones that can be either too harsh in spices or too plain. To make my Mini Pumpkin Pies from Scratch, here’s what we will need:
For the filling:
- 13-15 oz. Cooked pumpkin/squash, sieved (I prefer butternut squash for its natural sweetness)
- ½ can (or 6 fl. oz.) Evaporated milk
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- ½ c. Sugar
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- ½ tsp. Ginger
- ½ tsp. Nutmeg
- ¼ tps. Cloves
For the pastry:
- 2 c. Flour
- 6 Tbsp. Cold butter, cubed
- ½ c. Sugar
- Pinch salt
- 8-10 ½ Tbsp. Cold water
(or obtain a ready-made pie crust)
Begin by preparing the pastry: Add the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, and mix well. Then add the cubed butter, and mix together with your hands until a breadcrumb consistency is formed. Use a tablespoon to add cold water, one tablespoon at a time. (Use a fork at this stage to help combine the water and flour, then go in with your hands). Continue to add water until a dough is formed. (Do not overmix or the butter will melt). Then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Next, chop the pumpkin or squash in half and remove the seeds. Then chop the pumpkin into cubes and boil until tender. Drain the cooked pumpkin and remove the skins (should peel off easily, if not, use a spoon to scrape out the meat). Then run the pumpkin through a sieve (or puree) to ensure baby food consistency, and no strings. Next add the rest of the filling ingredients and set aside.
Remove the chilled dough and roll out on a floured surface. Cut out circles and place in muffin tins. Blind-bake the shells for 10 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, pour the filling into each shell and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Check doneness by running a toothpick through the center. A clean toothpick means the pies are cooked.
Allow the mini pumpkin pies to cool before enjoying with whip cream^-^