Today has been A Day. As it turns out, it’s not just work that’s stressful; a messy house (specifically, my messy house) is also quite stressful. Cleaning it is even worse, but absent magic fairies doing it for me, clean it I must, and it’s what I spent the better part of the afternoon doing.
By the time 4:00 pm rolled around and the house was finally back in some semblance of order, it was time to bake and decompress from the cleaning spree. It’s the second day of October, it’s finally starting to really feel like fall, and I have approximately 800 cans of Libby’s pumpkin pie filling in my garage. A pair of pumpkin pies it was!
Now, some may think I’m just tooting my own horn here, but I make the best pies. Some artists work in oils or clays; I work in pie. With my pies, it’s all in the crust…the delicious, buttery crust.
If you’re hoping I’m about to share my secrets of The Most Magical Butter Crust in The World, well, you’re sadly mistaken. I do not share my pie crust recipe with anyone. I made the mistake of giving the recipe to a boyfriend once; he turned out to be an idiot (as boys are wont to do), and now he’s an idiot out in godknowswhere, fully equipped with my pie crust recipe. Granted he’d probably just screw it up if he tried to make it (he wouldn’t be the first), but it’s a mistake I will not make again.
However, a “secret” that I will share is one I’m sure translates for whatever type crust you’re making: Use the absolute best rolling pin you can get your grubby mitts on. I hunted years and years for my perfect rolling pin, all to no avail. The closest I came was a heavy maple beauty I found at an upscale kitchen goods store, but I found it when I was in law school, and $40 for a rolling pin seemed too extravagant a purchase. Then, last Thanksgiving, I found the bad boy pictured on the right just lying on my parents’ kitchen counter. Apparently it was tucked away for decades in my grandmother’s storage unit. It’s large, it’s heavy, it’s well used (re: doesn’t stick as much), and I just had to have it. A little sweet talking and a slight guilt trip later, I was headed home with the King of All Rolling Pins.
So, step one of a delicious pumpkin pie is the crust. If you’re particularly busy and/or just terrible at making crust, you can always use a store bought one (though I never would–that’s cheating!). Once you’ve gotten your crust ready, it’s time for the filling. I use the recipe from the back of the Libby’s can, but I spice it up–literally! You can never go wrong adding a pinch of nutmeg, and if you really want some flavor, add an even smaller pinch of ground cardamom. It’ll be like fall exploded in your mouth.
Making the filling for a pumpkin pie is ridiculously easy, much easier than it is for apple pies (no peeling and coring, yay!). But one way to make it even easier is to invest in a KitchenAid stand mixer, which is something every busy baker should have. I coveted KitchenAid mixers for years before I finally got one. Seriously, some little girls dream of their wedding days; I dreamed of my perfect kitchen, replete with a KitchenAid mixer. Now that I have one, I cannot imagine life without it. As to the filling, just dump everything in and let it do its thing while you start the cleaning up process! Yay, multitasking!
Another little bit of “help” that I get is tiny, furry, and not available for rent: Miss Miata. She absolutely loves canned pumpkin, and will wait at my feet until I give her the empty can. She’s been known to get her face sullied with pumpkin goo many a time!
Once the filling is ready to go (and, in my case, I’ve gotten Miata’s head out of the pumpkin can), simply pour it into the crust and pop the pies in the oven according to the directions on the can. Wrapping the crust in foil up till the last 20 or so minutes of baking helps prevent the crust from overcooking. In no time flat, you too can have a delicious piece of fall!