Five-Spice Pumpkin Pie

October 22nd, 2010

Five Spice Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is almost unavoidable during the fall.  Not so bad, because it tastes great and really feels like the season.

This fall is turning out quite nice in my view – I have a new job that I love, the weather has been great and my wife and I are finally feeling settled in to our house that we bought almost two years ago (we even got some paint on the walls).  The garden is mostly done but still producing a few things (rosemary and peppers mainly); I don’t know how long that will last.  The air is picking up that familiar chill, and leaves are starting to turn their colors.

So it’s just the time for a pumpkin pie.  This version is based off a classic and simple recipe, all I have done is add a little five spice powder to the mix to give it a flavor profile that seems just right to me.  A fresh, homemade crust and delicious filling can’t really be improved by tampering too much.  Just do it like your grandmother did (or maybe she didn’t, I don’t know).  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Five Spice Pumpkin Pie Five Spice Pumpkin Pie

Five Spice Pumpkin Pie

  • 3/4 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 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
  • 3/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. You can make the pastry dough for the crust by hand: Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with rest in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Or use a food processor: Pulse together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a food processor until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with rest in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times, or just until incorporated.
  3. Gently squeeze a small handful: It should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring or pulsing 2 or 3 times after each addition until incorporated (keep testing).
  4. Turn out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and form it, rotating it on work surface, into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. 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.
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  7. 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. 
  8. Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and salt, then pour into shell.
  9. 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.
Five Spice Pumpkin Pie
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~ Walt Kelly