"I'd encourage you to try this out before the pumpkin pie portal closes for the season."
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 Pâtisserie, 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.
- 1 prebaked 10-inch pie shell (see recipe below)
- One 6 x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, sliced thinly, and coarsely chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree
- For the Pie Dough:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
Position a rack in the bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ginger, crushed cinnamon sticks, heavy cream, and milk to scalding. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring back to scalding.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until pale yellow. Whisk in the hot ginger cream, little by little, until combined. Strain the mixture into a clean pitcher and set aside.
In a separate bowl, briefly whisk the pumpkin puree until smooth. Slowly whisk in the ginger custard until incorporated.
Pour the pumpkin custard into the prebaked pie shell. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until set-the center is no longer jiggly. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
The pie keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature overnight. For longer storage, it keeps wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (the crust will suffer slightly from the chilling).
All-Butter Pie Dough
(makes enough for 1 double-sided pie or 2 single crust 10-inch pies)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine.
Add the butter pieces, tossing your fingers to coat each cube in the flour. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the size of large peas.
Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the water over the mixture and toss with a fork. The dough should hold together when you squeeze it in your hand. If it is too dry, add the rest of the water (or more is absolutely necessary).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat it together into one piece. Divide the dough into two equal parts, flatten each into a round disk, and the wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.