As an American living in Europe, I brought a couple of childhood food traditions over with me; one of the most loved being Pumpkin pie. While this fall feast pie happens to be incredibly common in America, here it’s barely been heard of, and if it’s been heard of, most can’t fathom the idea of the smooth, sweet, creamy pumpkin filling inside the flaky crust and it turning out to be delicious. That means this pie is always made completely from scratch, which also means that everyone that takes a bite is always pleasantly surprised and look forward to this pie every pumpkin spice season!
To make this pie from scratch there must be a real pumpkin involved. None of that canned stuff will do, and isn’t available anyway. I always choose the most flavorful way to prepare my pumpkin; roasting. Incidentally, this is also the easiest way to remove the sweet squash from its peel and gives an easy way to infuse the pumpkin with the ginger and cinnamon as it roasts.
When that roasted pumpkin has become soft, and has been drained of any excess juices, it then usually has cream and sugar or condensed milk beaten in to give it that creamy sweet taste. Not my pumpkin pie. My pumpkin pie uses light brown sugar, a sugar that has hints of molasses to it, but not too much to make it overwhelming and drown out the spices or pumpkin flavor. For the cream, I’ve found that a thick yogurt like quark works so much better and lends the added benefit of more protein, less fat, and without any flavor loss!
The last element of this pie is the crust. This crust is so close to foolproof with its ease and flaky texture, all while being made with whole wheat flour. That’s right, a whole wheat pie crust that isn’t tough! The secret is easy too; a couple of tablespoons of cold vodka. Don’t worry, it evaporates as it cooks, and that’s what makes it so flaky! It’s like magic.
Now, not every pie needs to be dressed up, but sometimes you want to go the extra mile for your dining companions, or even just yourself. This pie includes those extra special touches with whipped cream and spiced pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. It makes this a dessert worthy for any feast and one that makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Spiced Pepitas
- 1 Pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 ½ cups roasted pumpkin
- 2 allspice berries
- 2 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups quark
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour plus some for rolling
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter cold and cubed
- 2 ½ tablespoons cold vodka
- 2 tablespoons ice water approximately
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 egg white
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
- ¾ cup cold whipping cream
- 2-3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut the pumpkin in half on a cutting board, reserving half for another use. Scrape out the seeds and stringy parts of the pumpkin and put them aside. Cut the cleaned half into half again and put them into a baking dish. Mix the cinnamon, ginger, and salt together and sprinkle half of the mixture over the pumpkin pieces.
Put the pumpkin in the oven to roast for approximately 2 hours. When a fork can slide into the flesh of the pumpkin easily, it’s ready to come out of the oven. Let it cool about 10 minutes before scraping the flesh from the skin and putting it into a bowl. Strain as much of the liquid from the roasted pumpkin as possible.
While the pumpkin roasts rinse the pumpkin seeds under cool water and remove any leftover pumpkin and transfer them to a bowl. Add the leftover cinnamon and ginger mixture to the seeds and toss them well so they are evenly coated.
Spread the spiced pumpkin seeds on parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes or until dried and some shells have cracked open. Open the seed shells and remove the inner seeds and set them aside in a bowl for the pepitas.
Make the crust while the pumpkin and seeds cook. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Add the cubed butter to the bowl and with the back of a fork, press the butter into the flour to blend it in and make a small crumbs. Pour the vodka and the ice water into the bowl and continue to blend it into the pie dough with the fork until it starts to come together. Dust a flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it and pat it together to form a ball. Wrap the pie dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to roll it out and fill it with the pumpkin filling.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Grind the allspice, cloves, and salt together. Add the ginger and cinnamon to the mix and stir to combine. Add the spices, quark, and sugar to the pumpkin. Separate one egg white from the yolks and the other egg white. Add the yolks and egg white to the pumpkin mixture and mix well with a mixer for about 1 minute on medium. Add the vanilla and mix again until combined.
Dust a flat surface with flour and remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator. Roll out the pie crust and drape it over a 9 inch pie tin, pressing it into the bottom and around the edges. Trim the edge to leave a half inch overhang. Roll the overhang under to make a smooth round edge around the top of the pie.
Pour the pumpkin filling into the pie crust and smooth it out with a spatula. Cover the edge of the pie crust with aluminum foil so that it doesn’t burn.
Bake the pie in the oven for 10 minutes before turning down the temperature to 350F and cooking it the rest of the way for 45-50 minutes or until the pie is set and lightly browned. Remove the aluminum foil from the edge about 20 minutes into baking.
With a clean bowl and beaters, whip the leftover egg white on high until soft peaks form. Season the whites with the cinnamon, ginger, and sugar for the pepitas and whip it again until stiff peaks form. Add the shelled pumpkin seeds to the bowl and stir well. Spread the covered seeds out on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Allow it to bake for 20-30 minutes or until browned and firm. Remove it from the oven and break it up into little bits.
Beat the whipping cream with vanilla until soft peaks form. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the cream and whip it again until stiff peaks start to form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
When the pie is done cooking, remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least half an hour.
Cut the pie into 8 pieces and top each with a dollop of whipped cream and the pepitas.
- Remember to reserve the other half of the pumpkin for another savory or sweet recipe or cut it into smaller bits to freeze and use later!
- If quark isn’t available, substitute plain yogurt, strained through cheesecloth to remove excess liquid. Use what is left in the cheesecloth after the liquid has been strained out as a substitute for quark.
- If you have pumpkin spice already on hand skip grinding the spices and just use 1 tablespoons of the pumpkin pie spice instead.
- Don’t skip the vodka in the pie crust! It will evaporate as it cooks and will be completely safe for consumption by children and it makes a huge difference in this flaky crust.
- When making the whipped cream, pop the cream into the freezer for about 10 minutes along with the bowl and beaters. This will help the whipping cream fluff up as it’s beaten.
STEP ONE – PREHEAT THE OVEN AND PREPARE THE PUMPKIN
Turn the oven on to 400F.
Place the pumpkin on a cutting board and carefully, with a large serrated or sharp chef’s knife, cut the pumpkin in half.
With a spoon scrape out the pumpkin seeds and the insides out of the pumpkin, transferring them to a bowl for later.
Cut the pumpkin half in half again and place it in a baking tray or dish. Mix up the spices and salt and sprinkle half of the mixture over the cleaned flesh of the pumpkin. Save the other half of the spice mixture for the seeds.
STEP TWO – ROAST THE PUMPKIN
Put the pumpkin, uncovered, into the oven to roast for about 2 hours, or until it’s become tender and a fork can slide easy into the pumpkin. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool about 10 minutes.
Scrape the pumpkin from the peel and transfer it to a bowl.
Strain out the excess liquid from the pumpkin with a strainer, then transfer it to a large bowl to finish cooling. After straining you should have about 2 ½ cups roasted pumpkin.
STEP THREE – CLEAN AND SPICE THE SEEDS
While the pumpkin roasts, prepare the seeds by rinsing them under cool water to release them from any of the stringy parts of the pumpkin that they were scraped out with.
Discard any of the pumpkin strings and put the seeds into a bowl along with the leftover spices from the pumpkin. Toss them with a spoon to coat each seed.
STEP FOUR – ROAST THE SEEDS AND SHELL THEM
Turn the bowl of seeds out onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spread them out into an even single layer and place the tray in the oven to roast 25-30 minutes, or until the shells have popped open and the outside of the shells have browned.
Remove the seeds from the oven and allow them to cool about 4-5 minutes before removing the shells and transferring the seeds to a bowl.
STEP FIVE – MAKE THE PIE CRUST
While the pumpkin and seeds roast, make the pie crust.
Pour the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Add the butter to the bowl and using either your fingers, a pastry blender, or fork to break the butter up into little pieces and blend it with the flour to make a small crumbly texture with the dough.
If using your fingers, work quickly to help avoid heating the butter up too much. Alternatively, the dry ingredients and the butter can be pulsed in a food processor if one is available.
When the flour had been blended with the butter, add the vodka and iced water to the bowl and stir to combine it with the rest. It should start to pull together and become a ball.
Sprinkle flour over a clean flat surface and turn the dough out onto it.
Pull it all together to form a ball and cover with plastic wrap before putting it in the refrigerator to chill until ready to roll it out and fill it with the filling.
STEP SIX – MAKE THE PUMPKIN FILLING
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Put the allspice, cloves, and salt into a spice grinder or use a pestle and mortar to blend them into a fine grind. Transfer them to a bowl and add the ground ginger and cinnamon to the mixture.
Pour the ground spices, quark, and sugar to the roasted pumpkin bowl.
Separate the egg white from one yolk and crack the other egg and add it to the other yolk.
Add the yolks and accompanying white to the pumpkin bowl and beat them on low with a mixer for about a minute. Add in the vanilla and beat again until everything is combined.
Save the other egg white for the pepitas.
STEP SEVEN – ROLL OUT THE CRUST
Take the pie dough out of the refrigerator and dust a clean flat surface with flour. Unwrap the pie crust and place it on the flour and dust a rolling pin lightly.
Roll the dough out to about 1/8th inch thickness, fold it over the rolling pin and use it to help drape it over a 9 inch pie or tart tin.
Press the dough down into the bottom of the tin, into the corners all around the edge and along the sides of the tin.
Trim the excess dough from the top, leaving about a half inch overhang.
Roll the overhang under the edge of the crust so that it sits just above the edge. Smooth the edge around the pie with a finger dipped in water.
STEP EIGHT – FILL THE PIE CRUST
Carefully pour the pumpkin pie filling into the pie crust and smooth it out and press it into the sides with a rubber spatula.
Take a bit of aluminum foil and fold it over the edges of the pie crust to protect it from getting burned while baking.
STEP NINE – BAKE THE PIE
Put the pie in the oven and cook it for 10 minutes before turning down the temperature to 350F and cooking it for another 10 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and return the pie to the oven to finish baking for another 35-40 minutes.
STEP TEN – MAKE THE PEPITAS
While the pie bakes, make the pepitas by putting the leftover egg white into a clean bowl and with clean beaters, whip it on high until soft peaks form. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and sugar to the egg white and whip it another 2 minutes.
Turn off the mixer and add the reserved pumpkin seeds to the bowl and fold them in gently. Spread the pepita mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the oven to cook for 20-30 minutes or until it has become a nice brown shade and the egg white has become firm around the seeds.
Remove them from the oven and break it up for the topping and set aside
STEP ELEVEN – MAKE WHIPPED CREAM
Pour the whipping cream and vanilla into a clean cold bowl. With clean, cold beaters, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and cinnamon to the bowl and beat again until stiff peaks start to form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
STEP TWELVE – LET THE PIE COOL
Remove the pie from the oven once it’s done baking. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes at the very least.
STEP THIRTEEN – CUT AND SERVE
Cut the pie into 8 slices and place a slice on a plate with a dollop of whipped cream and some of the spiced pepitas on top. Serve immediately.
When is your favorite time for a slice of pumpkin pie? Have you ever dressed it up with little extras more than just a dollop of whipped cream, maybe a special crust? Please be sure to let us know!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.