Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Which Pumpkin Pie?

Decisions, decisions, decision, varying mostly for labor intensity for getting a pumpkin pie. I wanted to find a pretty pumpkin pie picture that I wouldn't get into copyright problems over. My image is two colored ovals and arced text that I used Microsoft Word's Word Art feature for creating.

The easiest way to get a pumpkin pie is buy it at a bakery or grocery store. Pay your bucks and take it. Might be iffy trying to buy one on Thanksgiving day itself, so buy the day before. The alternative to the easy way depends on the energy you want to expend and time you want to allot for acquiring ingredients and preparing the pie. Two main components of the pie are the pie shell and the filling, with the filling subdividing into canned and scratch pumpkin.

Pie Shell
A pie shell for pumpkin filling should be flour-dough. You can make one from a scratch recipe, which calls for flour, fat (butter or shortening), water, and elbow grease using a rolling pin and pastry blender. Or you can buy a refrigerated shell that you unroll and lay into a pan. Or you can buy a frozen shell that's already preformed into an aluminum pie pan. Either option usually comes in sets of two. A crumb-crust shell is not suitable. A flour shell acts as a liner during baking, not so for a crumb crust. Least work—the frozen pie shell.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
The pumpkin pie filling can be fresh pumpkin that you extract the meat from—cutting the rind off, removing the pulp, and shredding or grating the meat. A jack o'lantern from Halloween works, if it's not moldy. Or you can buy a pumpkin at the store as the BIG EVENT approaches. You can buy canned pumpkin. The fresh-pumpkin approach is very labor intensive, but tends to be less expensive than the very convenient canned pumpkin. YMMV. Least work—the canned pumpkin.

Spices
I pretty much knew about cinnamon and nutmeg, just would need to look up quantities. Saw recipes that also called for allspice. What the heck is allspice? The about.com explanation looks pretty thorough.

Candidate Recipe for Convenience
One recipe I encountered lately was in the Parade Sunday paper insert. Looked convenient to make, but the small, 6-point font bugged me. You McCormick people! Really???? 6-point font? Alienating a lot of older folks who have baked pies and might be turned off at the effort required to READ the ingredients and process? Well, I had torn out the recipe anyway, but decided to look for it online. Voila! Bigger font, and numbered steps at the Signature Pumpkin Pie Recipe. The big conveniences are the pre-formed pie shell, canned pumpkin, condensed milk, and McCormick's Pumpkin Pie spice. (You'll pay for the convenience of having all the spices in one jar.) The only additional ingredient is eggs. Hmm, I might make this pie, but maybe not this Thanksgiving Day.

For the record, over the years, I've made pies with scratch pie shells (cheap to make, but a lot more effort than pre-made shells.) I've used fresh pumpkin only, just because I've liked knowing the filling came from a pumpkin I acquired. I don't recall having used condensed milk, but maybe because I haven't baked a pumpkin pie in a few years and don't remember.

Which Pumpkin Pie?
For me this Thanksgiving Day, none of the above. I'm baking mini-cupcakes that have chocolate chips, chocolate cake mix, cherry pie filling, and three eggs. The recipe will be a variation of the Lucky Leaf recipe for Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake. Besides using chocolate cake mix instead of white, I'll also deviate from the recipe by making mini-cupcakes instead of a bundt cake.

November 26, 2014—
Visit "McCormicky-Libbyish Pumpkin Pie" about the hybrid-recipe pie that I DID bake.

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