The pumpkin pie is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dessert tables across the United States. For many families, Thanksgiving (and occasionally Christmas) are the only times this tasty dish is served – and everyone wants to learn how to make Grandma’s family recipe taste just like hers, so they can pass the pumpkin pie tradition on to their own children and grandchildren.
How did the pumpkin pie because synonymous with our holiday of gratitude? No one really knows. Historians say the pumpkin is native to North America, and Native Americans likely cut the pulp into slices and roasted them over the fire. When European settlers arrived, they began exporting the big orange gourd. There, the French and the English prepared it as a dessert, but differently from the presentation we’re used to. They stuffed the whole pumpkin with apples, spices, sugar and even honey, and then baked it whole.
Here in the United States, recipes for pumpkin pie as we know it began showing up on Thanksgiving tables in the early 19th century. As a fall crop, pumpkins were likely considered a symbol of the autumn harvest and were plentiful; cooks of yesteryear were accustomed to making the most of what was available, so it’s no wonder they found a way to make delicious pumpkin pie.
If this is your first time making Grandma’s famous family recipe, or you just want to perfect your own pumpkin pie, here are a few easy tips to make it turn out just right.
Be careful not to over-beat the filling. Pumpkin pie is supposed to be thick and creamy; too much mixing will add air and thin out the texture.
Brush the pie crust with a slightly-beaten egg white and pre-bake it before filling it. This helps the crust stay flaky and crisp.
If you’re having a hard time getting the crust just right (it can be tricky), consider using a refrigerated pie crust. No one will know the difference – and we’ll never tell!
Buy an extra pie crust and use cookie cutters to cut it into festive shapes for the top – autumn leaves, pumpkins and so forth. It will look beautiful.
- If you’re in a hurry, canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling will work. Or roast a sugar pumpkin and puree the insides.
Fold crushed toffee into whipped cream for a deliciously decadent pie topping.
Keep an eye on the pie while it’s in the oven. Overbaking leads to the pie “weeping,” which makes the crust soggy and creates cracks in the surface.
Keep the pie refrigerated until it’s ready to be served.