Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie

"I'd encourage you to try this out before the pumpkin pie portal closes for the season."

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

At the risk of sounding like a giant nerd, sometimes I think baking pumpkin pies is very similar to time travel. To illustrate my theory, let's use the late 1980s time travel classic, and all-around awesome movie, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure as an example. During the lead up to the dramatic conclusion of this cinematic masterpiece, Bill and Ted have a very limited window to get back to their time-traveling phone booth and successfully transport themselves back to San Dimas in time for their history final. How does this totally excellent scene tie into baking pies?

Well, I'm pretty sure there is a very brief portal in time—between the first few chilly days of autumn and ends just after Christmas—where even the most delicious pumpkin pies can be enjoyed. You could bake the most incredible pumpkin pie on the warmest day of the summer, but all of the cinnamon and nutmeg would be powerless in transporting you to the brisk days of fall.

Luckily today falls right in the interval of perfect pumpkin pie baking and eating enjoyment, so we've decided to share this recipe for Ginger Custard Pumpkin Pie from Melissa Murphy of Sweet Melissa P√Ętisserie, a bakery with a few locations around Brooklyn and Manhattan that always warrant a little pastry detour.

What sets this pie apart is that it uses a ginger-infused custard base to lighten up the traditional canned pumpkin puree.

The pie was a joy to make, from the aromas that came from steeping the cream with cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger, to Melissa's All-Butter Pie Dough, which uses baking powder for some added airiness, and finally mixing the pumpkin puree into the custard and watching the filling turn the most beautiful color. I'm not sure what the color is officially called but I'm dubbing it Thai iced tea-colored.

The pie was fantastic, the filling light and mousse-like, infused with warming fall flavors, and totally not bogus. I'd encourage you to try this out before the pumpkin pie portal closes for the season.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have a copy of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book to give away this week.

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