Top tips for pumpkin pie (you won’t get these anywhere else)

9 Comments 23 November 2011

Don't be fooled, there's only a thin layer of pumpkin on these little pastries.

This post is for anyone who ever erroneously believed I am a perfect homemaker. Another title for this could be ‘A cautionary tale about making pumpkin pie while distracted.’

Caught up in the spirit of Thanksgiving but knowing I wouldn’t be hosting a dinner this year, I decided to make a pumpkin pie on Monday when most of the family were around. I wanted it to be different from the usual plain ol’ pie I do every year so I decided to experiment. This decision led me on a voyage of discovery which I have turned into tips for you, in your own pumpkin pie making adventures tomorrow–may they be completely uneventful.

1. Use tinned pumpkin.

There is absolutely no difference between tinned and fresh. Seriously. I dare you to take a blind taste test and see if you can tell the difference. Oh, I guess you’ll know that you’re using fresh when you get so fed up with the process of peeling, scooping, cutting, cooking, and mashing–then you’ll know you’re using fresh, but other than that… save yourself the hassle and just use tinned.

2. The recipe on the tin of Libby’s pumpkin is impossible to beat. Almost.

Even Martha Stewart says so. However. I have one simple trick that does beat it, and this trick was given to me by my dad. Double the spice quantities, at least. And if you really love these spices you could probably triple the quantities. Yep, that’s it. Then the pumpkin pie is elevated to heights of seriously wonderful holiday flavours and the house is filled with scents that make people go Mmmmm!

3. Ready rolled pastry works pretty well.

It’s okay if you need to use ready rolled pastry because you’re trying to save time. Good homemade pastry is probably better (it must be!), but ready rolled is just fine.

4. But don’t try to be a bit different and make pumpkin pie tartlets with ready rolled.

Unless you roll the pastry thinner. Even if you think they might be a fun change from the regular ol’ pie. Once you blind bake it (baking the pastry in the dish before you pour in the pumpkin mixture) it will swell up so much that you won’t have enough room to pour in enough pumpkin mixture to make this work. Even with the ceramic beads to weigh down the pastry. The final product will be all pastry and no spicy pumpkin filling.

5. And when you realise the tartlets won’t work, you can console yourself with the idea of making a smaller pie with the remaining pumpkin mixture and a second roll of ready rolled pastry, but you need to remember to bake it blind first.

Or, if you forget and put the filling in before blind baking (because there’s too many people milling about in the kitchen and you’re distracted by conversations about which forms you’ve forgotten to sign and send back to the school), you can always take the pie back out of the oven immediately upon remembering and pour the filling out into a bowl, and then bake the pastry, but be aware that you may leave behind evidence of that (see the large black streak across the crust, below).

I have made what feels like hundreds of perfectly fantastic pumpkin pies. Not that you'd know looking at this.

Probably you should also have thought more carefully about the size of pie dish to use, so you don’t have super size crust rising up like a half burnt tidal wave over the pie.

6. And once the crust is baked blind and the pumpkin mixture is put back in the pie crust and the final baking has commenced, a useful thing to do is to not forget about it while watching TV.

It’s handy that those spices are so strong smelling because if you do forget and the whole house starts to smell of them, you’ll suddenly remember, throw the cat off your lap and rush into the kitchen just in time to save it from cinders.

7. Luckily the pie filling actually tastes better with a slight over cooking, and that pesky oversized, overcooked ready rolled stuff can just be knocked away anyway.

And although I do love Cool Whip, living in Britain has taught me how easy it is to make your own with some whipping cream, sifted icing sugar and a blender.


All's well that ends well.

Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are!


The Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe–with my dad’s alterations


9oz shortcrust pastry (or one package of ready rolled)

2 eggs lightly beaten

1 can of Libby’s pumpkin

6 oz / 170g granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 pint evaporated milk (like Carnation brand)


Pre-heat the oven to 220C, roll out pastry to line a 9 inch, deep flan tin.


Bake blind for 10-15 minutes.

Reduce oven to 180C.

Combine filling ingredients together and pour into pastry case.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool before serving.

Serve with whipped cream, sweetened to taste with icing sugar.



Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Shelley says:

    Boy, this sounds like my cooking! Except I’ve not been able to find tinned pumpkin up here for years. So we do the ‘real pumpkin’ thing. Except when a “large” (Brits don’t even know what they don’t know) yields like 2 cups of pumpkin and I need enough for 4-5 pies. Then we resort to sweet potatoes. Because the flavour is definitely in the spices and I am lavish with those! Homemade crust is very satisfying and not really hard, but very messy. Knowing what it costs to make, this tightwad turns up her nose at storebought and sprinkles flour all over her kitchen… Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

    • Michelloui says:

      Sweet potatoes–excellent idea!!! And much easier than pumpkin. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

  2. Lucy says:

    I keep meaning to try making this, it sounds lovely! I once saw Libby’s tinned pumpkin in Waitrose, but haven’t since – how annoying!

    • Michelloui says:

      It seems to be a seasonal thing–they know their market I guess! Although I’ve also noticed that some stores will have it for a while then just stop and it won’t be thee the nxt year. But like Shelly said, sweet potato is a pretty easy alternative!

  3. Geekymummy says:

    How serendipitous, just read your post as I am about to start on my pie! I have ready rolled frozen pastry and canned organic pumpkin all ready to go!

  4. Iota says:

    I’ve always used the recipe on the Libby’s label, and it’s a fail-safe.

    I had a slice of someone’s pumpkin pie yesterday and it really wasn’t very nice. Husband agreed with me. I think they’d forgotten to put any sugar in. Is there a type of pumpkin pie that’s meant to be a bit sour? Was it a gourmet moment that I misunderstood?

    • Michelloui says:

      I forgot to put sugar in once and it was just bleh. I couldn’t even force my self through it for the sake of the lovely spices. Just bleh.

      Was the pie maker eating it as well? Did they not make a face? Weird. Never heard of that version unless it was a mistake like mine!

    • Michelloui says:

      PS Pleased to read you’re getting into the spirit of things by making them yourself!! :)

Share your view

Post a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Who is The American Resident?


An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

Type your email here for delivery straight to your inbox!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow on Bloglovin
© 2010 Michelle Garrett

© 2015 The American Resident. Powered by WordPress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium WordPress Themes