The holidays are all about homemade.
Store bought pies/cakes/cookies are perfect for when you forgot you were supposed to bring treats to your kid's class. Store bought has no place at a holiday gathering... or so I thought.
Which is why I was kind of freaking out the night before Thanksgiving when I realized I'd committed to bringing a pumpkin pie and I had jack squat prepared.
It was either buy an in-store special or make my own-- something I have never done before. Randomly, we did have a whole pumpkin (thanks to Aunt Barb & her impressive garden), and I knew I had all the stuff to make Andrew Zimmern's recipes for pie crust and pumpkin pie filling.
I decided to go for it.
First, I tackled the crust, which was surprisingly easy to make. Combine the ingredients and voila!
However, there were a few plot twists post-dough assemblage (aka I didn't read the recipe all the way through before I started). Apparently, you have to chill the prepped dough in the fridge for an hour. Whoopsies! Wish I would've known that earlier in the day.
Next plot twist: Apparently, there are things called pie weights. They are designed to weigh down your pie crust. News to me! I was fresh out and didn't have any of the other pantry staples people lean on when they're fresh out of pie weights, like uncooked beans or rice.
Instead, I used some rocks we found at Lake Superior.
Next, it was time to whip up the filling.
Since I'd never made a pie, let alone a pumpkin one, I wasn't sure what the filling should look like pre-cooked. Initially, I mixed all the ingredients in my Kitchen Aide mixer, but the consistency seemed too lumpy. My real-not-canned pumpkin needed help.
I dumped my lumpy filling into my Vitamix. Not sure that was the right move, but the contents came out smooth, creamy and tasted just like delicious pumpkin pie.
I filled my par-baked crust with the pumpkin mixture and placed it in the oven for about an hour.
And then, because it was nearly 11 PM and I was feeling punchy, I took the crust scraps and excess pie filling and made the tiniest pumpkin pie ever.
That's the cutest, right?
Okay, wait one hour. Ding! Big pie's done. I set the big pie on a cooling rack. Then, with the tiniest spoon ever, I took a bite of the tiny pie.
It just wasn't that good.
The crust was perfect. Flaky, savory, delicious. But the filling fell flat. I love pumpkin pie, but man. The consistency was perfect, but it just lacked that distinct pumpkin spice.
Two and a half hours later and I got mediocrity. What a letdown.
Of course, I still brought the pie to Thanksgiving.
And there it sat, on a beautiful cake stand, sandwiched between a homemade apple pie with crumble top and the most beautiful GD pumpkin cheesecake I've ever laid eyes on.
As the night wound down and we all had our second round of leftovers, I looked at my pathetic pie. There was one slice missing and it was the one I'd taken for myself.
My first pie was a minor failure.
But that's how you learn, right?
Because I can, I asked the recipe creator himself what went wrong. His suggestion: add a dash of nutmeg. Like less than a teaspoon. Next time, I'll give it a whirl.
If there is a next time... 'cause truth be told, the store-bought pumpkin pies put mine to shame.