A Little Pumpkin History.
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America and contain potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C. References to pumpkins date back many centuries. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for "large melon" which is "pepon." "Pepon" was changed by the French into "pompon." The English changed "pompon" to "Pumpion." American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin."
Native American Indians used pumpkin as a staple in their diets centuries before the pilgrims landed. They also dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. Indians would also roast long strips of pumpkin on the open fire and eat them. When white settlers arrived, they saw the pumpkins grown by the Indians and pumpkin soon became a staple in their diets. As today, early settlers used them in a wide variety of recipes from desserts to stews and soups. The origin of pumpkin pie is thought to have occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and then filled it with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in the hot ashes of a dying fire.
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
This pumpkin pie recipe makes the perfect dessert for a special get-together with your beloved family and friends.
Active time: 45 min
Start to finish: 4 3/4 hr
Servings: Makes 8 servings.
Butter Pastry dough (see recipe below)
15-oz can canned solid-pack pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Special equipment: pie weights, uncooked dry beans, or raw rice
Accompaniment: lightly whipped cream (optional)
Make pastry dough as directed. Roll out dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate (4-cup capacity). Crimp edge decoratively and prick bottom all over. Chill 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°°F.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake shell until pale golden, 6 to 10 minutes more. Cool in pan on a rack. Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and salt, then pour into shell.
Bake pie in middle of oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling is set but center still trembles slightly. (Filling will continue to set as pie cools.) Transfer to rack and cool completely.
* To prevent overbaking custard, you should start checking the pie's doneness at 45 minutes, as ovens vary. * Pie may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered, but crust will not be as crisp as if made day of serving.
* An egg substitute is an excellent alternative to eggs if you want to cut your intake of fat and cholesterol, which are concentrated in the egg’s yolk.
Butter Pastry Dough
May be prepared in 45 minutes or less but requires additional unattended time.
Servings: Makes enough dough for a single-crust 12-inch pie.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
6 to 7 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt and with a pastry blender or fingertips blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to incorporate, until mixture begins to form a dough. On a work surface smear dough in 3 or 4 forward motions with heel of hand to slightly develop gluten in flour and make dough easier to work with. Form dough into a ball and flatten to form a disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Pastry dough may be made 1 week ahead and chilled.