Monday, 10 November 2014

Freeze & Bake Pumpkin Pie

Time to stop eating so much squash! How about some pumpkin, instead?

Actually, this is a mixture of squash and pumpkin - they are quite interchangeable, when it comes to pie, and after all pumpkins are only squash of a specific roundish shape. I had a few that were starting to go bad shortly after we picked them all, so to save them I roasted them all up. Then, when I went grocery shopping, I found ready-made pie shells on sale. I don't usually buy prepared pie shells, but this was pretty serendipitous, so I bought 4 packs and now my freezer is full of pumpkin pies, ready to be baked. Well, was full. The level is dropping pretty quickly. (Just as well - I don't think these frozen pies should be kept for more than a month or two.) 

This is a very classic pumpkin pie recipe, with fairly mild, well-balanced spicing and a smooth, soft texture. Of course, you don't have to freeze them - you can bake them at once. Start them off at 400°F, as below, but once the heat is reduced to 350°F they should be ready in another 45 to 55 minutes.

Don't forget that if you are starting with pumpkin or squash you have cooked yourself, it is a good idea to spend some time caramelizing it before you use it. I didn't do that this time, as I was in a big hurry, but it does improve it. I give more detailed directions in my recipe for Pumpkin Loaf.

I used the higher amount of Sucanat, and thought it was a bit too sweet. This is, however, about half the amount of sugar that most pumpkin pie recipes call for. Next time I make it though, I'm going to cut back just a little more.

2 8-9" pies (12 servings)
15 minutes prep time, not including cooking the pumpkin
2 hours bake time, plus cooling time

2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 to 3/4 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup cream, 10% or richer
2 frozen 9" pie shells

Put the prepared pumpkin into a mixing bowl, and mix in the salt and spices. Mix in the Sucanat, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Slowly mix in the cream.

Divide the custard evenly between the 2 pie crusts, which should still be completely frozen. Set them in the freezer, on a very level shelf, to freeze solid. Once they have frozen (overnight) wrap them up tightly in plastic. One can go back into the pie carton, if you like, so you can stack the second on top of it.

Note that this is a very soupy filling, so it will be a bit tricky to get the filled pie crust into the freezer. I put mine onto a large tray that fit into the freezer, and that worked, but if you do not have very steady hands you may want to put the pie crust into the freezer half-filled, then finish filling it up right in the freezer.  Once it is frozen, of course, it is easy to take it out and wrap it up.

To bake a pie, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the unwrapped but still solidly frozen pie for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F. Bake the pie for another hour and a half, until the top has puffed up all over and the crust is nicely browned. Remove it from the oven and let cool. The puffing will subside as it cools.

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