Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkin Pie, Squared

The first thing you might notice about this piece of pumpkin pie is that it does not look like a traditional slice of pie. Instead of using a 9-inch round pie pan, I opted to use an 8-inch square baking pan. I did it partially out of laziness because the square pan was right in front of me and fresh from the dishwasher, and partially because I wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary.
Before I even get into the pie, I think it turned out beautifully this way and when I am baking another pie that has a crumb crust (graham or otherwise) I will definitely make a square pie again. This is also a good trick for anyone who has limited access to kitchen equipment but owns a square casserole dish.
Back to the pie.
This pumpkin pie is made with canned pumpkin, but was inspired by a recipe from The Good Home Cookbook (read more about it here), rather than the one on the back of the can of pumpkin. I altered the spicing, the amount of liquid, the crust and, of course, the shape of the pie, so it really looks nothing like the original recipe in anything but the baking time, which should be just about the same regardless of whether you make a round or square pie.
The pie itself is delicious: creamy, light and flavorful. One bite makes you think of fall in an instant - and I can attest to the fact that two pieces make you feel even better. I left ginger out of the filling and, instead, used crushed gingersnaps to make the crumb crust.
I think pumpkin pie is one of the easiest you can make - especially since I've eliminated an actual pie plate. Make two and enjoy one yourself, then use the other to impress your family.

Pumpkin Pie, Squared
2 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs, room temperaure
1 - 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (any kind)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine all crust ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Press into the bottom of an 8-in square baking pan and bake for 12-14 minutes, until just beginning to brown at the corners.
Set aside to cool completely.

Turn up oven temperature to 425F.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until slightly foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in all the remaining ingredients, except the milk, and beat until smooth. Then whisk in the milk.
Pour mixture into cooled pie crust and bake for 15 minutes at 425F, then reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for 35-40 more minutes, until the pie jiggles only slightly and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and refrigerate if storing leftovers.

Makes 9 good-sized pieces.