Recipe by Sarah Phillips and Kelly Hong; Photos and food styling by Sarah Phillips © 12-2-2013 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variation: Easy Sweet Potato Pie Tart
Spicy, creamy, and perfect for the season, is there anything better than pumpkin pie dolloped with whipped cream after Thanksgiving Dinner? But they aren't always easy to make: they crack, taste too dense, don't cook all the way through in the center, and can still be notoriously overbaked! Find out below how I solved all of these problems with one delicious recipe.
QUESTION: I would like to make pumpkin pies in advance and freeze them. Is this possible?
SARAH SAYS: It's not a good idea to freeze a pre-baked pumpkin pie. But you can freeze the unbaked frozen pie shell and the uncooked pumpkin pie filling (in an airtight container) separately for up to one month. Defrost the pumpkin filling, ideally overnight in the refrigerator, then pour it into the frozen crust (no need to thaw) and bake as usual.
PIE RECIPE HELP
To solve the typical pumpkin pie problems of cracking, under- or over-baking, and having a dense filling, it dawned on me that I should try making it as a shallow tart, rather than in a deep dish or regular pie pan. I found that, as a result, pumpkin tarts turn out much better and perfect everytime. In fact, I swear I will never make pumpkin pie in a pie pan again!
Because pumpkin pies are custard pies, they need delicate heat to set the filling. The shallow tart pan allows for the filling to bake all the way through without cracking or giving it a "sandy texture" from overheating. I've also found that the delicate filling comes out lighter and more delicate in texture than a traditional pumpkin pie.
Baking the recipe in a tart pan also allows me to mix all of the pumpkin pie filling ingredients in one bowl with a hand-held mixer; I'm no longer afraid of overbeating it (which causes it to crack during baking), making it so easy to prepare!
Finally, baking the pumpkin tart in this shape makes it very easy to unmold it from the pan, and thus, so much easier to cut and serve. And no more having to worry about crimping pie crust edges either!
One unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) pie shell from Sarah's Perfect Pie Crust
1 can (15 oz.) or 1 3/4 cups LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin; do not use Pumpkin Pie filling
1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk, well shaken
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
NOTES: Substitute 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger and cloves
1. Position an oven shelf in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.
2. Roll the pastry dough and fit it into the tart pan:
a. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 9 x 13-inch rectangle for the 7- x 11-inch oblong tart pan with removable bottom.
SARAH SAYS: You can use a round tart pan that varies in size between 9- to 11-inches in size. Make sure you roll the dough about 2-inches larger than the diameter of your pan size.
b. Fit the dough into a tart pan with a removable bottom.
c. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin and carefully transfer it to your tart pan.
d. Patch and piece together the tart dough as necessary.
e. Trim the dough so it is flat with the top of the tart pan by moving the rolling pin evenly over the top of the pan.
f. Remove the scraps, and save in the refrigerator in case the tart shell cracks when blind-baked.
After that, bake them sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar or save in the freezer for another time.
g. Let the formed pie dough rest in the fridge for about 20 - 30 minutes or longer.
There is no need to "dock" the pie crust or prebake it.
3. To a large bowl, add the pure pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.
4. With a hand-held mixer fitted with beater attachments, beat the mixture on medium low speed until well combined.
5. Pour the pumpkin pie filling into the unbaked tart shell almost to its rim. You may have a little extra pie filling left over; bake it in a greased custard cup, if desired.
SARAH SAYS: To do, I pour the pumpkin pie ingredients into a pitcher or ladle them right from the mixing bowl into the pie shell.
I place pie shell on a foil-lined baking sheet, pull out the oven shelf part way and place them on the oven shelf. I then pour the filling into the shell and push the shelf back into the oven.
6. Bake the pie for 55 to 60 minutes or until when lightly tapped with a wooden spoon on the pan's side, the pie's filling will jiggle slightly and appear to be set. Do NOT overbake as the pie will crack.
7. Cool the baked pie thoroughly (takes about 1 to 2 hours) on a wire cake rack. Do not leave it out of refrigeration more than 2 hours.
Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 - 4 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the filling to set before serving.
SARAH SAYS: To prevent marring its surface, I make a foil tent and lay it over the tart so it doesn't touch the surface of the tart. I attach the edges to the foil underneath the tart pan and seal the two together.
8. Unmold the tart from its tart pan. To unmold, remove the side and bottom of the tart pan.
Or, if you wish, simply leave the tart on the removable bottom of the pan and place it on a serving plate.
1. Cut into individual squares.
2. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Because all custard pies are HIGHLY PERISHABLE, which includes Pumpkin Pie in the category, store well covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. If you don't want to mar its top, what I did was to make a foil "box"; I brought foil up around the sides of the tart pan, and straightened them so they made walls. I then attached a piece of foil to the top edges of the walls by crimping the two pieces together to form a box-like structure. The top foil piece did not touch the top of the tart.
Pumpkin Pies don't have a long shelf life; they last a few days in the refrigerator. When in refrigerated storage, sometimes they will "weep" or water will collect in the bottom of the pie.
Do NOT freeze. In theory, baked pumpkin pies can be frozen for 1 - 2 months and then thawed in the refrigerator. But, I have found that the quality of a freshly baked homemade pumpkin pie is usually higher than a frozen one. Whenever I have frozen a baked pumpkin pie, I have never liked the results -- custard pies, which include pumpkin pies, can get watery after thawing, ruining the filling and the crust. With pumpkin pies, the texture of the filling suffers -- it loses its custard-like and delicate texture and becomes more dense and sort-of heavy and unappealing.
SARAH SAYS: If you purchase an unrefrigerated pumpkin pie, refrigerate it when you get to your destination. Keep it refrigerated.
Easy Sweet Potato Pie Tart
Instead of pumpkin puree, you can use 1 3/4 cups cooked sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and drained and mashed.
NOTE: If using fresh cooked sweet potatoes, and they are stringy, with long fibers, push the cooked potatoes through a fine mesh strainer or food mill to remove them before using as an ingredient in the pie.
HOMEMADE PUMPKIN FILLING OR HUBBARD SQUASH
Instead of pumpkin puree, you can use 1 3/4 cups homemade pumpkin or hubbard squash filling
FOR LOWER FAT / CALORIE PIE, substitute NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Lowfat Evaporated or Fat Free Evaporated Milk.
FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (6,000 feet): Deep-dish pie- extend second bake time to 55 to 60 minutes. Shallow pies- no change needed.
- Substituting one 12-oz. can (1½ cups) CARNATION® Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk OR CARNATION Evaporated Fat Free Milk for CARNATION Evaporated Milk produces acceptable results. However, the pie will be slightly darker in color and will have a slightly more pronounced cinnamon, ginger and clove flavor. The texture will be similar to a pie made with regular CARNATION Evaporated Milk.
- Substituting one 14-oz. can of CARNATION Sweetened Condensed Milk for CARNATION Evaporated Milk produces acceptable results; however, the pie texture will be more firm and the taste will be slightly sweeter. Omit the granulated sugar from the recipe.
- CARNATION Nonfat Dry Milk: reconstitute according to package directions. Substitute 1½ cups milk for one 12-oz. can (1½ cups) CARNATION Evaporated Milk. Nestlé Kitchens recommends mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch with the granulated sugar and spices. Prepare pie as directed. This milk will produce acceptable results, but the pie texture will be softer than a pie made with evaporated milk. However, the cornstarch will aide in firming it up. The pie will also have a slightly more pronounced cinnamon, ginger and clove flavor.
- Whole Milk, 2% Milk, 1% Milk OR Skim Milk (Fat free): Substitute 1½ cups milk for one 12-oz. can (1½ cups) CARNATION Evaporated Milk. Nestlé Kitchens recommends mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch with the granulated sugar and spices. Prepare pie as directed. These milks will produce acceptable results, but the pie textures will be softer than a pie made with evaporated milk. However, the cornstarch will aide in firming it up. These pies will also have a slightly more pronounced cinnamon, ginger, and clove flavor.
- Soymilk: (brands such as SILK® Soymilk, Plain or Unsweetened) – Substitute 1½ cups milk for one 12-oz. can CARNATION Evaporated Milk. Soymilks produce acceptable results. Soymilk pies will be slightly darker in color, the texture will be just slightly softer and maybe slightly sweeter than a pie made with evaporated milk.
- Lactose-Free Milks-Whole, 2%, Fat Free- (brands such as LACTAID®) Substitute 1½ cups milk for one 12-oz. can (1½ cups) CARNATION Evaporated Milk. Nestlé Kitchens recommends mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch with the granulated sugar and spices. Prepare pie as directed. These milks produces acceptable results, however, pies will be slightly sweeter with a softer texture.
- NESTLÉ COFFEE-MATE® Liquid Coffee Creamer: Produces an acceptable pie, however color is darker. Add 1 Tbs. cornstarch to sugar.