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Pumpkin pie is too perfect to limit to days of autumn

By Mariko Jackson

LAST UPDATED: 12:22 p.m. HST, Nov 27, 2013

If there is ever any truth to the rumors of canned pumpkin shortages around holiday time, you can assume it has something to do with me. I’m eating anything pumpkin throughout October, November and December — especially pumpkin pie.

I have justified the eating of pumpkin pie for breakfast, and I firmly place pumpkin in the vegetable group.

In all seriousness, I believe pumpkin pie, with its custard pudding filling, deserves more attention. It has been sadly relegated to these fall months, when it can just as simply be made in July as October. I stock up on canned pumpkin during sales so I can make an impromptu pie whenever I crave one.

There are a few essentials to a great pumpkin pie. Canned pumpkin tastes much better if you cook it over the stove first. Heating it until sputtering hot (while constantly stirring, so you don’t have a volcanic reaction in your kitchen) softens its metallic canned taste.

With the addition of brown sugar, a slight molasseslike flavor complements the pumpkin. Cream and whole milk work with the eggs so you have a custardy center rather than a thick, flat one. Five eggs between two pies is the best ratio I’ve found.

Last, I implore you to pre-bake the crust. With this preliminary step, you won’t have a soggy mess underneath the filling.

I could go on and on about the best crust recipe, but I will just say this: Half butter, half shortening is the key. It will be flaky and still retain its shape. Don’t put your perfect pie filling into anything less than a great crust.

Or do. Maybe you won’t be tempted to finish off the leftovers at breakfast.


Dough for 2 pie crusts
1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
A few grates fresh nutmeg, if you have (or a dash ground nutmeg if you must)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cream
1/2 cup whole milk
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out pie crusts and shape into pie pans. Prick crusts several times and press a large piece of foil onto crust. Use pie weights if you have them (or substitute uncooked beans or ceramic beads).

Bake 10 minutes, then remove foil and weights and bake about 3 more minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

While crust is browning, in heavy-bottomed pot over medium, heat pumpkin, sugars, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Stir frequently with rubber spatula, heating gradually, until just barely sputtering. Let cool slightly.

In large bowl, whisk vanilla, cream, milk and eggs until it has a consistent yellow tint (no eggs visible).

Whisk pumpkin mixture into cream mixture, stirring quickly so egg doesn’t cook.

Pour filling into still-hot crusts and bake until edges are set and middle is still a bit loose (but not liquid), about 30 minutes. The filling will set more as it cools.

Eat it when it cools down or chill it in the fridge for a few hours. Makes two 9-inch pies.

Nutritional information unavailable.


Mariko Jackson blogs about family and food at

By Request: Betty Shimabukuro takes a break on the last week of the month. Her column returns Dec. 4.

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