When I wrote about making a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin a few weeks ago, Nancy Koester was the first of several readers who wrote in to say I made it "way too complicated."
Koester's husband, Dan, grows about 4,000 pumpkins a year at their Eden farm, Vine Ridge, where they also raise dairy goats. In pumpkin season, "I make two or three pies every week," she writes. "Trust me, I would never do it using your recipe!"
Instead of oven-roasting the pumpkin and pureeing it, she suggests microwaving the pumpkin, and working it over with a potato masher before mixing in the other filling ingredients.
"I can have this pie in the oven in about a half hour," Koester writes. "Because it is not pureed, it has so much more texture and taste."
> Nancy Koester's Easiest Pumpkin Pie
1 pie pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can evaporated milk
Take the pumpkin, knock the stem off. Cut it "on the equator," and scoop out insides. Place both halves, cut side down, in a 9-inch Pyrex dish. They won't both sit on the bottom, that's OK. Cover loosely with a sheet of wax paper.
Do not add any water or salt.
Microwave for 20 minutes on high. Don't do anything; no rotating (my microwave has a carousel), no shifting.
Wait about 5 minutes, just until they are cool enough to touch. Pick one out, and put in a mixing bowl. Grab the rounded side with both hands, and squeeze as you lift. The pumpkin pops right out, no mess, no fuss. Do the same with the other half.
Mash with a potato masher. Mix in other ingredients. Pour into prepared pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let cool.
(Cook's note: I use a deep dish pie pan, and don't put the cookie sheet under; if worried about spillage, I put it the next shelf down. Also, I have one of those aluminum edge covers, and that makes the pie puff in the middle, not at the edge.)
> Pie crust
2 cups shortening
4 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
Mix dry ingredients together. (I just put them in my KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook.) Add the shortening and blend.
Put the egg and vinegar in a 1 cup measure. Add cold water till it measures 3/4 cup. Add this to the dry ingredients. Divide into 4 equal parts, put in Ziploc bags. Roll one part out into a pie crust.
Can be refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen. To thaw, leave overnight in fridge.