Perfect Pumpkin Pie

For years and years I’ve used the pumpkin pie recipe found on the Libby’s cans of pumpkin puree. It always turned out consistently delicious so I never really thought to try another recipe.

This was a mistake.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Last year my mom linked me this recipe and was like “make this immediately and ditch the usual recipe.” She was quite right! This pumpkin pie is amazingly dense, superbly flavorful, and has zero of that occasionally slightly watery texture I sometimes noticed with the Libby recipe. I don’t often use qualifiers like “best” or “perfect” in my recipes, but trust me when I say Sally definitely figured this one out.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Deliciously creamy and superbly spiced, this is sure to be your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe and a go-to staple for the upcoming holidays. M is not much of a pumpkin fan, so I’m looking forward to having this whole pie to myself over the upcoming holiday weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll make him a pie he can enjoy too; I’m not a complete monster.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a rich pie but very smooth, and goes best with homemade whipped cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. I like my pumpkin pie cold, but it was also excellent at room temperature if that is your preference. Like every pumpkin pie, it works just as well for breakfast as it does for dessert, and I’m sure after your first piece you’ll already be planning your second.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

It does require some overnight chilling, so make sure you plan your Thanksgiving preparations accordingly. This pie could easily be started Tuesday and finished Wednesday, leaving Thursday free for the items that can’t be made ahead. As long as you have fridge space (or a cold garage) you are good to go. I will say that if you are planning to add the pie crust cutouts (which are super easy and really fun), you should wait until just before serving to do so in order to avoid sogginess.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Try out your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe this year, and don’t forget to thank Sally.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes one deep-dish pie

Ingredients

pastry for a double-crust pie (see below)

15 oz pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar (light works great too)

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. The night before: in a large bowl whisk pumpkin, eggs, and brown sugar until completely combined. Add cornstarch, salt, spices, cream, and milk, and whisk until combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next day: if you haven’t already, prepare your favorite pie dough, or use the recipe linked above. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Roll out slightly more than half the dough and gently place into your pie plate. Trim edges to about 1″ then fold over and crimp as desired. Optionally, sprinkle edges of pie crust with cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Briefly whisk filling then pour carefully into the prepared pie plate. If you have extra filling, you can bake it separately in a glass dish (no crust necessary) next to the pie.
  5. Optional: With remaining pie dough, roll out to about 1/8″ thick (or slightly thicker) and cut leaves or other designs. Place on a lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Bake leaves for about 20 minutes, they should be golden in color. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Bake pie for one hour. Pie should still be jiggly in the middle but look solid otherwise. To avoid cracking, turn off the oven and open the door but leave the pie in there while it cools down a little. Once it has settled (hopefully without cracks), move it to the counter to cool completely, at least four hours. I prefer pumpkin pie cold, so I placed mine in the fridge after two hours.
  8. Just before serving, decorate with pie crust shapes. (Eat any extra shapes, or serve them in a small bowl next to the pie). Top slices with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate leftovers.

No-Fail Pie Crust

Makes 2 deep-dish pie crusts

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp shortening
5-7 Tbsp ice water

Directions

  1. Measure shortening into a small bowl and place in freezer for 15-20 minutes. Pour water and a few ice cubes into a bowl or cup and set aside. (I typically pour 8 oz of water and then use what I need.)
  2. Mix flour and salt in a larger bowl. Using a pastry blender (or two table knives), cut in the chilled shortening until the pieces are pea-sized.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, add water into mixture and gently mix with your pastry blender (or knives). Repeat until all is moistened and the dough will stick together as one ball, about 6 tablespoons. Divide dough in half and gently roll each half into a ball.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten one ball of dough into a disc. Gently roll into a circle large enough for your pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate, and trim to a half-inch larger than the rim. Fold pastry under itself and crimp, if desired.
  5. Roll out second ball of dough for a second pie, or cut into strips or decorations as desired.
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Lemon Pie Spoons

Summer!

Just kidding, until last weekend it has mostly been pouring rain and howling winds here. I will admit it’s made for some pretty challenging runs during my marathon training. Turns out 20 miles in drenching rain and/or 20-mph headwinds is not super awesome. I know, shocker. Regardless, around March I started thinking about lemons again, partially because my grandmother loved lemon meringue pie and her birthday was in March, and partially because Costco starts carrying giant bags of the wonderful yellow fruit around April. With the closing of ski resorts and the flowering trees, lemon just seems like the right flavor for the season.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

After making a large batch of granola, I was left with several egg yolks chilling in my fridge. My usual go-to for egg yolks is just to throw an extra one in scrambled eggs, but I didn’t think I’d get through them all that way very quickly. Secondary method is always pudding, but pudding sounded a bit heavier than the dessert I was really looking for. Enter: mousse!

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

Substantially lighter in texture without compromising the ka-pow of flavor, mousse always feels like the summery version of pudding. Obviously lemon was the way to go. I cut Mandy’s recipe in half, very slightly adjusted it, and was on my way to a tasty treat. Her recipe called for a graham cracker crust that I’m sure is delightful, but I wanted to test an idea I’d been pondering.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

Last fall I’d seen some great ideas (on Pinterest, of course) using cookie spoons, which I thought were super cute. However, I am not a huge fan of sugar cookies and even more importantly, I don’t enjoy making them. I was curious whether the same idea would work with pie crust, and that seemed like the perfect delivery mechanism for lemon mousse.

After texting my mom and asking whether she thought my spoons are oven safe (which I’m sure made her raise an eyebrow), I made some pie crust, made a mini spoon template with parchment paper, and begin cutting away. They baked up super cute and although they are a bit fragile, they work great for a dollop of mousse or for dipping. Although it didn’t take terribly long to cut by hand, for round two I bought a cookie cutter on Amazon, which was not only faster, but allowed me to be more efficient with the dough. Plus now I have a reason to make more spoon desserts.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

These lemon pie spoons are small, light, and require no cutting and slicing and plating, which makes them great for potlucks. Big lemon flavor and flaky pie crust come together in a delicious bite-sized treat. It’s important to use a pie crust recipe you like the flavor of, as it’s rather prominent given the somewhat higher crust:filling ratio. I’ve linked mine below, but feel free to use your own.

Lemon Pie Spoons {{Baking Bytes}}

This would be a fun confection for a summer barbecue where you don’t want to worry about fridge space. You can make the spoons and the mousse a day or two ahead of time (store the spoons on the counter, and the mousse in the fridge), then assemble shortly before you head to the party. They’ll be fine on the counter (inside, if it’s hot) for several hours, leaving you free to enjoy the party. Although they might droop a bit, they are definitely safe to eat.

Fair warning: they are addicting! Make a batch to share, assuming you don’t eat them all yourself.

Lemon Pie Spoons

Adapted from Mandy’s Recipe Box
Makes about 5 dozen mini spoons

Ingredients

Pastry for single-crust pie (unbaked)

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon (optional)

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. For the spoons: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, arrange as many oven-safe spoons as you can fit. (A silicon mat will help them slide around less, if you have one.) Set aside.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out your pie crust to about 1/8″ thick. Use a cookie cutter (or a paper template and a sharp knife) to cut out as many spoons as possible. Pile all trimmings together, then gently roll out again and cut more spoons.
  3. Carefully transfer each pie crust spoon to a real spoon on the prepared baking sheet, pressing the dough into the real spoon’s indent.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden and slightly puffy. You may want to rotate the pan halfway through if your spoons are of different heights.
  5. Let cool a few minutes on the spoons, then gently and carefully (the metal spoons are hot!) remove them to a wire rack to cool completely, and repeat until all pie crust is used. Store on the counter until ready to use, up to 3 days.
  6. For the mousse: In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest (if using.)
  7. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until mixture thickens and turns cloudy. Continue cooking until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (although it’ll look clear).
  8. Use a mesh sieve and strain the lemon curd into a small bowl. Refrigerate at least one hour, stirring a couple of times if possible, or until ready to use. Mixture should be cool to the touch. Also place a large mixing bowl and your beaters (or KitchenAid whisk attachment) in the fridge at this time.
  9. When curd is sufficiently chilled, remove large bowl and beaters from the fridge. Beat heavy cream on medium/high until stiff peaks form.
  10. Gently fold in the curd to the whipped cream until it’s not streaky.
  11. Return mousse to fridge until ready to serve, up to 3 days.
  12. For assembly: Arrange pie crust spoons on a tray or serving platter as desired.
  13. Transfer mousse to a frosting bag with a star tip (or a Ziploc), cut off the tip, and carefully pipe onto the spoons. (You may have extra mousse.) Serve as soon as possible!
  14. Alternate assembly: Place mousse into 4-oz serving dishes and add a pie crust spoon. Serve with extra spoons for dipping!

Pumpkin Pie Jack-o-lanterns

Fall actually hit Montana while I was gone so I woke up to frost this morning for my bike ride to work. It was glorious. I just returned from my whirlwind half marathon tour yesterday so I am pretty tired, but very glad to be home. Three great races and lots of fun seeing new places and old faces in all four Lower 48 timezones. This week I have a bonus post for you! I actually thought of this idea last year, but never got around to implementing it, so I decided I should definitely get it done this year.

Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern Mini Pies {{Baking Bytes}}

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite pies and I will happily eat it all year round. Unfortunately M doesn’t super care for it so mostly I just make it in the fall when I don’t mind having it for breakfast all week (yum). It’s a traditional dessert this time of year, which can be boring (according to some) so I thought I’d try giving it a new package.

Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern Mini Pies {{Baking Bytes}}

I used my normal pie crust recipe and pie filling recipe, and then used mason jar rings to form little pies. The jack-o-lantern faces make them great for Halloween but with a different decoration (like the leaf cutouts below) they’d be great for any fall potluck. They are way easier to serve and eat which makes them great for when you aren’t having a sit down dinner. They do have a high crust to filling ratio, so make sure you use a crust recipe that you like; I have mine linked below if you don’t already have a favorite.

Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern Mini Pies {{Baking Bytes}}

They are a little time consuming, especially if you cut out faces, but not difficult and I’d say pretty beginner friendly. I got 9 out of my recipe but that could vary based on how thin you roll your crust and how many times you are able to reuse the scraps. (I wouldn’t recommend more than once or twice as the dough gets very tough the more you handle it. Tip: you can drip a little extra water to help the scraps stick together again to re-roll.)

Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern Mini Pies {{Baking Bytes}}

Your usual pumpkin filling, yummy pie crust, and a dusting of cinnamon sugar makes a great treat that’s easy to portion control and is a wonderful whipped cream vessel. The cuteness is an added perk. =)

If you need a dessert for your Halloween parties this weekend, give these a try.

Pumpkin Pie Jack-o-lanterns

Makes about 8 double-crust handpies

Ingredients

Pastry for double-crust pie

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch ground cloves

1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

cinnamon & sugar mixture (optional)

Other Supplies

8+ wide-mouth jar rings
1 small-mouth jar ring with lid
1/4 cup of water or one egg white

Directions

  1. Line a cookie sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or wait a bit since some of these steps can be time-consuming.)
  2. Whisk together sugar, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Stir in egg, pumpkin, and whipping cream until combined. Set aside.
  4. Take half of your crust pastry and roll it out slightly thinner than you normally would. Use a 4″ biscuit cutter to cut out as many rounds as possible. Repeat with remaining pastry.
  5. For jack-o-lanterns, cut faces into half of the unbaked pie crust circles. (Totally optional, of course.)
  6. Place appropriate number of wide-mouth jar rings (not lids!) upside-down on your prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. (Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit if you haven’t already.)
  7. Using the small jar ring with lid inside, gently place one pie crust circle on top of it (yes it will hang over the sides, that’s important.)
  8. Carefully spoon about 3 tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture into the center of the pie crust, such that it is contained by the jar lid ring.
  9. Brush the circumference of the circle with water or egg white, and top with one of your jack-o-lantern faces, pressing the edges together to seal completely.
  10. Gently remove the sealed pie from the small ring/lid and transfer to one of the wide-mouth rings such that it is centered and the edges are supported by the ring. Your pumpkin may overflow a little, but with practice you’ll get better.
  11. Repeat steps 7-11 with remaining pastry and pumpkin mixture. If you have a decent amount of pumpkin mixture remaining, pour it into a (sprayed) ramekin or small glass baking dish and bake the same as the pies.
  12. If desired, sprinkle cinnamon & sugar mixture over the pies (I do this with pretty much all my pies), then bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a small knife inserted into the pumpkin mixture comes out clean.
  13. Let cool completely, then serve with whipped cream.

Chocolate Pudding Pie and Baileys Whipped Cream

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I have to admit it’s not my favorite “holiday”, but it has the redeeming quality of being near my birthday. I turned 25 on Saturday (yes, I’m an Ides of March baby) and celebrated by running my first half marathon of the year. One down, five to go. I got a new PR of 2:17:03, which makes me feel very confident I’ll meet my yearly goal of 2:10, and hopeful that maybe I’ll even meet my stretch goal of 2:00 (or close to it). My best friend also completed her first 10k which is super exciting! Judging by her smile, I’d say I didn’t completely scare her away from running. (Phew.) (Parentheses!)

Running!

I usually celebrate my birthday with a chocolate pie, but after the race and then attending a party with one of M’s Antarctica coworkers I didn’t feel up to making one. Instead, I made one yesterday and added a teensy bit of Irish flair for today’s post.

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate pie is a long-standing favorite of mine and probably my most requested birthday dessert, although cherry pie would be a close second. Even from scratch, chocolate pie is an easy dessert to make, and a hard one to screw up, which makes it great for beginners. I can even personally attest that whipped cream is stiff enough for regular birthday candles, although I skipped those this year.

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Flaky pie crust, creamy pudding, and fluffy whipped cream are a combination that can’t go wrong, unless you are one of those weird people that doesn’t like sweets. (Seriously, I do not understand this. No judgments, just confusion.) But if you are one of those people, you probably aren’t reading this post anyway.

This pie is fairly rich, but the whipped topping helps keep it from feeling overly dense. Even so, you may want to start with a smaller piece than I have in my pictures, and make a note to go back for seconds. It should keep for a few days in the fridge, but it would be best to have a few friends over to share it. I’m sure they won’t mind helping you out.

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re new to homemade pies, pudding, or whipped cream, have no fear! This is a great starter pie and will be sure to give you some confidence in the kitchen. If you’re still apprehensive, feel free to substitute a pre-made pie crust (but please, use the roll out dough) or a cookie crust. Or skip the crust entirely and pour the pudding into individual serving glasses. (Although this rather deviates from the “pie” idea.) You could also use cool whip for the topping: just thaw it in the fridge and add some Baileys. I’ve included recipes for homemade versions of all three steps if you really want to wow your audience (and your taste buds.)

Pre-baked Single Pie Crust

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens
Makes one 9″ pie crust

Ingredients

1/3 cup shortening

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

4-5 Tbsp ice water

Directions

  1. Measure shortening into a small bowl and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Pour water and a few ice cubes into a cup and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt together until well combined.
  5. After shortening is cold, combine with the flour and salt and mix with a pastry blender (or a fork) until blended into pea-sized pieces.
  6. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, mixing gently after each addition. Repeat until all pastry is moistened and it all sticks together.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten pastry into a disc, and then roll out large enough to fit your pie plate.
  8. Transfer dough to pie plate and crimp the edges.
  9. Prick liberally with a fork over the entire bottom and sides of the crust in order to prevent shrinkage.1
  10. Bake crust for 10-12 minutes, then set aside while you make the filling.

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Pudding Pie

Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake
Makes one 9″ pie

Ingredients

1 pre-baked pie crust

2 cups milk
1/2 cup half and half
5 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate

4 large egg yolks2
3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dark cocoa powder (optional)3 

Directions

  1. Place milk, half and half, and chopped chocolate into a medium sauce pan. Over medium heat, warm the mixture until chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together egg yolks and sugar until well mixed.
  3. Add corn starch, vanilla, salt, and cocoa (if desired) and stir until completely combined.
  4. When the chocolate is melted, slowly pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth.
  5. Return entire mixture to the saucepan, and heat on medium until it thickens and bubbles slowly. (5-10 minutes)
  6. Remove from the heat and stir gently until pudding is smooth, then pour directly into prepared pie crust.
  7. Cover immediately with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the filling to prevent a skin from forming.
  8. Refrigerate at least two hours, or until ready to serve. Then top with whipped cream.

Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Baileys Whipped Cream

Borrowed from The Cupcake Project
Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp Baileys Irish cream liqueur4 

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer (whisk attachment for a stand mixer) beat the cream until very soft peaks form.
  2. Gently stir in the sugar and Baileys until just incorporated.
  3. Continue beating the cream until soft-medium peaks form.
  4. Spoon onto chilled pie, then use a spatula or spoon to create swirls.5
  5. Top with chocolate jimmies, mini chocolate chips, or chocolate curls, if desired.
  6. Return to fridge, or serve immediately.

Chocolate Pudding Pie with Baileys Whipped Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Notes

1 I really don’t think you can over-prick a pie crust.
2 Don’t throw out the egg white, make meringues!
3 I like richer chocolate flavor, but if you’re not into dark chocolate just leave this out. It’ll still be delicious.
4 If you just want regular whipped cream, use 3-4 tsp vanilla instead.
5 You will probably have about a cup or more left over. Store in a sealed container in the fridge and it’ll keep for several days. It’s great to use on hot chocolate or ice cream or to eat with a spoon.

Fresh Peach Pie

Despite the huge amount of effort involved, peach pie is one of my favorites. It’s a summery flavor that’s delicious all year round, and is a great way to use those large trays of peaches I can’t seem to help buying from Costco. The hint of cinnamon present is always a welcome flavor in my book, and a dash of nutmeg adds a little something. As one of the sweeter pies, it’s definitely a dessert pie to me, but I’d never turn it down for breakfast.

Peach Pie

Fresh peaches are admittedly a pain to work with, but it’s oh so worth it in the end. If you’re on top of things, peel and slice enough peaches for several pies and freeze them in pie quantities for later use. Just make sure you let them thaw before you use them, and maybe add a little extra flour.

Peach Pie

Never peeled peaches before? You’re in luck – there’s an easy way! Set a large pot of water to boil (not a rolling boil, more like a strong simmer) on the stove, and place a bowl of ice water nearby. I like to put a colander in the sink as well but that’s up to you. For each peach, submerge in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then immediately dunk in the ice water for another 20 seconds. With a paring knife, cut the peach (around the pit!) into 8-10 sections. The skin should just slide off the fruit during this process, but if it’s still sticking you can redo the boiling/ice water baths. Keep in mind, however, this will only work if your peaches are ripe enough. Throw the slices in the colander, the skins in the disposal, and the pit in the trash, and you’re good to go! Repeat for all your vast trays of peaches as you revel in how easy it is while wasting no delicious peach. You can definitely take the skin off before slicing the peach, but skinned peaches are ridiculous slippery, so I prefer the extra grip while I hold it.

As summer winds down, this is a wonderful pie for a “last hurrah”; saying farewell to summer with fresh peaches, and welcoming fall with that hint of cinnamon.

Peach Pie

Fresh Peach Pie

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens
Makes one 9″ pie

Ingredients

Pastry for a double-crust pie

6-8 large peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (I usually use the lesser amount)
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Layer the bottom crust in the pie plate, and trim the edges to 1″ larger than the rim.
  3. Gently toss the peaches with the lemon juice, and set aside.
  4. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl until well combined, and gently fold in the peaches.
  5. Layer the peach mixture in the pie plate, and cover with the second crust, either with a lattice top or cutting vents for steam to escape. Seal the edges and crimp as desired.
  6. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before enjoying with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or both.