Spiced Pumpkin Pie

A true To Taste style recipe: the crust is my all-time favorite, used in my Whatever Galette and it comes from Alice Waters (also on Smitten Kitchen). The filling is adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s garam masala pumpkin tart that he made for a state dinner at the White House for President Obama and the visiting prime minister of India. The addition of garam masala is genius. I tested three crusts to make sure that my preferred recipe held up with rich pumpkin pie filling and...yes, yes it did.

The other crusts I tried were graham cracker (I’ve put the gist of that in the cook’s notes below) and a vodka pastry crust. They say that the addition of vodka (where cold water would be) creates a flakier crust because the alcohol cooks off when it bakes. It’s absolutely flaky, but it doesn’t deliver that same buttery flavor as the the one that uses icy cold water to help bind it.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cubed and cold
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • About 1/4 cup cold water

For the filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream for serving, optional

Steps

Step 1

Make the crust: Note: this recipe makes enough for two crusts -- use one and store one if making an open pie (like this pumpkin) or use both for a closed pie (like an apple).

Step 2

First, measure the water and drop in a few ice cubes to keep it cold. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the cold, cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture using either a pastry blender or your hands. (If using your hands, which I prefer, work quickly. The goal is to keep everything as cold as possible.) When you get to butter pieces the size of peas and when the flour has begun to take on a bit of a yellow tint, stop mixing. (It shouldn’t look uniform yet.)

Step 3

Drizzle the water over the flour mixture. Using a large metal spoon or your hands, quickly distribute the water throughout the dough, bringing it together. Add water, a little at a time, until the dough easily clumps together. On a flat surface (cutting board, ideally) dump the dough out and work it, lightly, into a mound. Cut the mound in half and flatten each half into a round disc. Wrap each of them completely and tightly with cling wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour (or store in the freezer for up to 3 months).

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the chilled crust onto a flat, wide surface that has been dusted with flour. Roll out your dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Using your rolling pin, lift and transfer dough onto pie dish and either trim the excess or use it to decorate the edges. Again, work quickly to ensure the butter doesn’t melt during this process.

Step 5

Once the crust is in the pie dish, line the inside with foil and fill with dry beans or sugar to weigh it down. Blind bake crust for about 10-12 minutes (you don't want melty butter on top of the crust, this means it's not ready to come out yet). Remove from oven to let cool.

Step 6

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat eggs together. Add remaining filling ingredients and whisk until well combined. Pour the filling into the blind baked and cooled crust. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the center is nearly set. Allow to cool about 20-30 minutes before removing from pan or slicing.

Cook Notes

Graham cracker crust is great with pumpkin pie and is super simple: take 12 graham crackers, smoosh them into crumbs, mix with a pinch of kosher salt and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Melt 1 stick butter, pour into graham cracker mixture, and mix well (it should look like wet sand). Press into a pie dish (using the bottom of a water glass for even-ness) and chill in the fridge for 30 min. Then, fill and bake as written above.

Also, whipped cream is lovely with this pie. Also simple to do homemade: 1 small carton of heavy cream, about 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, all together in a bowl. Use an electric whisk until you get stiff peaks. Voila, delicious, not too sweet. Mmmmmm.