When I was in University, I’d use a fresh pumpkin to make some 20 pies each season. The pies were frozen and we took one out of the freezer each weekend to have a baked pie with our roasted chicken dinner. Pumpkins were inexpensive so this made a good dessert we could afford as a young couple. Today of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to baking pies with pumpkin. You can also make loafs, bars, squares, muffins, cookies, jam, marmalade and more. Google “What can you bake with pumpkin puree” for lots of different recipes. And you don’t need to make all 20 pies at once! You can freeze the puree in amounts needed for your favourite recipes and make the desserts as needed during the winter. BTW: I recently learned that there are special pumpkins for baking – sugar pumpkins. I’ve never used one and my pies have been enjoyed, even devoured, over the years.
Preparing pumpkin puree to use in baking
Bake a pumpkin much like any squash – simply cut it in half, take out the seeds and place your pieces skin side up on a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper. Cook for about 45 to 60 minutes at 350 or until the pumpkin “meat” is fork tender. Scoop out all of the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skin. Then puree the pumpkin with a food processor or an immersion blender until it is a smooth, uniform texture. It will contain more liquid than you want to bake with; so, place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and put all of the puree in the strainer to drain. You can weigh it down by placing plastic wrap over the puree, with a plate on top, and heavy cans on top of the plate. Allow it to drain for 1 to 2 hours, until no liquid is dripping out. Now the pumpkin is ready to use for baking or you can freeze it for future use. Follow your favorite recipe to make the dessert of your choice. If you were to use pumpkin pie filling (and sometimes puree) in cans from the store, know that those products already have spices added to them and thus you’d need to adjust the recipe.
Mom’s Favourite Pumpkin Pie Recipe
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar (optionally use light brown sugar)
2 teaspoon Pumpkin pie ground spice*
2 eggs slightly beaten in large bowl
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk (could use milk instead)
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 prepared uncooked pie crust or make your own
Directions: Sift dry ingredients together then stir into eggs. Add milk and pumpkin. Mix gently. Line pie pan with your pastry and pour in the filling. Bake at 450* for 10 minutes; reduce to 325* and bake 35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the pie. Makes 1, 9 inch pie.
*If you don’t find this “pumpkin spice” at your grocery, mix these together and use 2 t and store the rest: 3 T cinnamon, 2 t ginger, 2 t nutmeg, 1 t allspice, 1 t cloves. Mom would often leave out the cloves and/or allspice if she didn’t have it on hand.
Pumpkin Loaf ala my best friend Bertha
Dry Ingredients: Mix these together in a bowl:
¾ cup margarine
2 cups sugar
3 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda; 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Wet ingredients: Mix these together in another bowl:
4 eggs beaten slightly
2 2/3 cups pumpkin puree
Pour the wet ingredients a bit at a time into the dry ingredients while mixing the two sets together. Pour this into a flour coated loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. It is done when a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Cool.
Want to add a glaze (like a frosting) to the loaf?
Mix together the following: ½ cup icing sugar, 1/8 t cinnamon, 1/8 t nutmeg, and 1-2 T of cream. Spread the mixture over the cooled loaf. Slice and enjoy!