I Made a Pie from Scratch & I Have Mixed Feelings About It.

There she be, my first-ever pumpkin pie.
There she be, my first-ever pumpkin pie.

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!

Perfect dough.

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.

Worked perfectly!

You call them rocks, I call them pie weights. 
You call them rocks, I call them pie weights.

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.

Bic for scale. Pie cooked in tiny Pyrex bowl, not ashtray. 
Bic for scale. Pie cooked in tiny Pyrex bowl, not ashtray.

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.

* * *

Other failures? Glad you asked! I failed at running, I was pretty bad at this and I totally sucked at this (but am trying again!).

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Comments (7)

  • Sue Katt 3 years ago Reply

    Your pie looks beautiful and give me a home made one any day of the week. The crust is the hard part so you’ve got that down! Truthfully, I think squash makes a better pumpkin pie than pumpkin does, it has better texture and flavor. The canned "pumpkin" is actually squash. Try it next time.

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Sue, I feel like you just told me Santa doesn’t exist. What do you mean the pumpkin they normally use for pies is SQUASH!? Well no wonder mine tasted weird!

    I will try that next time. Any squash recommendation? Thanks!

  • marge 3 years ago Reply

    Not to out-do you, but I made TWO homemade pies for Thankgiving…one pumpkin, just like your story…it was good, had nutmeg in it and ground cloves and cinnamon and….some other stuff – BUT it wasn’t nearly as good as the SWEET POTATO pie I made with pecan crust. That was delicious…so I think Sue is on to something – let’s leave the pumpkins on the stoop with the faces carved into them.

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    trying that next time, margie!

  • Ashley 3 years ago Reply

    I made a really delicious pumpkin pie (pumpkin is a squash, I’m sure there could be a mix with other types to add sweetness and flavor. I’m already thinking butternut) from scratch this year, but a little differently than usual. Instead of the normal crust, I did a graham cracker and ginger snap crust which added a lot of flavor. I’d found a recipe with 1/2c sour cream in the filling as well, precisely since I wanted to ensure my home made puree wouldn’t make a blah pie (I see that Andrew’s had creme fraiche, which really couldn’t have failed you!). That and plenty of ginger and nutmeg made it a winner.

    I think the right amount of spices are the key to a good pumpkin pie, and after this year I’m totally sold on crust experimentation. The pecan crust Marge wrote here sounds like a fantastic idea!! Your pie looks great, and that’s a big part of pumpkin pie.

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Tell me more about this graham cracker/ginger snap crust….

    Ashley 3 years ago

    The recipe called for just a plain graham cracker crust, but I spotted ginger snaps at the market and had a eureka moment. Just your usual crumb crust, I did about half and half graham and half ginger snaps, 1 1/2 ish cups total. A couple table spoons sugar mixed into it with a melted stick of butter, press into the pan and pre-bake as you would a regular crust. Voila! It added a nice spiciness, and I liked the texture of the crumb crust with the creamy filling.

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