Ginger and pumpkin are a winning combo. So much so that I won the pumpkin pie contest at Wednesday's Woodstock Farm Festival with this here pie! Actually, I tied for first with a woman named Nancy - here's a photo of our big moment -- I'm on the left with my eyes closed, oh well...
When I began plotting my path to victory, I knew two things -- I wanted to use fresh pumpkin rather than canned and I wanted to highlight the warm, spicy flavor of ginger. As a result, the recipe below is a Frankenstein made up of bits and pieces that I liked the sound of -- Faith Durand's ginger pumpkin pie, the crust from this pie, and Simply Recipes' old-fashioned pumpkin pie.
The pumpkin part turned out to be easy. Our younger son had a field trip to Kelder's Farm last week and the first stop on the hayride was a field where each child was invited to pick one pumpkin. The vines were a bit too prickly for my son's taste so I yanked the pumpkin from its vine in the dusty field while the sun shone down from the bright blue sky -- it made a marvelously satisfying cracking noise.
A few days later, I cut the pumpkin in half and scooped out the seeds and guts -- I saved my seeds to roast -- they make a great, healthy snack.
I placed the halves cut-side-down on a baking sheet and roasted them for almost an hour at 350 degrees, until I could easily pierce them with a fork.
Once they'd cooled down enough to handle, I scooped the flesh out with a spoon. Boom! Done! Not quite as easy as buying a can of pumpkin puree but a heck of a lot tastier, plus we got to eat the seeds. If your pumpkin is stringy post-roasting, use a masher or immersion blender to puree it until smooth.
As for the ginger, I used it three ways just like the Chopped contestants do when they want to impress the judges...
I used a bag of organic ginger snaps to amp up the gingery flavor of the crust.
I also chopped up some crystallized ginger to add to the cookie crumbs for the crust.
And, last but not least, I added a healthy dose of shredded, fresh ginger root to the pumpkin custard filling.
The crust was very easy. I pulsed the cookie crumbs and ginger with a little sugar, then added plenty of melted butter and mixed it all together with my hands. Then I patted it into the pie pan and put it in the oven for a short while to pre-bake while I got the filling together.
Other than the fresh ginger, the ingredients I used in the filling were fairly standard -- organic heavy cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. I don't think this photo sells it very well... If you want your final, cooked pie filling to look more orange, use white sugar instead of brown.
Then I poured the custard filling into the pre-baked crust and put it in the oven for a long bake at 375 until the center was set, covering the crust partway through as it was getting pretty dark. I love the way it "cracked".
A warm, rich, spiced custard in a delightfully gingery cookie crumb crust that won the Woodstock Farm Festival pumpkin pie contest! Serve with fresh whipped cream sweetened with a jot of maple syrup.
Hope you enjoy it!
Makes one 9-inch pie
For the crust:
* 1 1/4 cups finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 25 cookies)
* 2 Tbsps sugar
* 3 Tbsps finely minced crystallized ginger
* 6 Tbsps unsalted organic butter, melted
For the filling:
* 1 3/4 cups (or 1 can) pumpkin puree
* 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
* 1 1/2 cups organic heavy cream
* 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
* 3 Tbsps grated fresh ginger
* 1/2 tsp lemon zest
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Make the crust: preheat the oven to 350°F. Pulse the gingersnap cookie crumbs, sugar and ginger several times then add the melted butter and stir until the mixture is eventy moistened (I used my fingers.) Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish and press the buttery crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides to the top of the dish. Bake the crust until firm and slightly darker in color, about 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.
2. While the crust is baking, turn the oven up to 375°F and then make the filling: whisk the pumpkin puree with the eggs, egg yolk, and brown sugar. Grate the ginger using a Microplane or fine grater - you don't want any of the fibrous stringy bits to remain. Add the grated ginger, spices, lemon zest and cream to the pumpkin mixture and whisk well to combine.
3. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for about 50 minutes or until the filling is just set - it will continue to set a bit more after it comes out of the oven. After about half an hour, check the pie, rotate it and tent with foil if the edges of the crust seem to be browning too quickly.
4. Remove to a rack and let cool. Serve with fresh whipped cream.
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