I love pie!
Despite the fact that I’ve relaxed my diet a bit during pregnancy and I’m now much more omnivorous, all my baking is still vegan. I don’t like eggs and I don’t drink milk, so why have them in the house just for baking? It’s too much trouble!! So this Thanksgiving, I wanted an excellent pumpkin pie that didn’t require me to buy either of these things.
There are a lot of vegan pumpkin pie recipes out there, but I can’t bring myself to make any recipes that call for a big ol’ brick of tofu or other ingredients which affect the texture and the taste of the pie. Why can’t there be a pie that tastes good, has the right mouth-feel, contains only ingredients you can get at your local grocery store, and doesn’t have tofu, dairy, or eggs?
Well, there can be! I made it!!
This recipe has been in development for the past few weeks. I tried several iterations of spice blends and methods of thickening the pie until I got it just right. Today was a calculated risk, using my family as guinea pigs to test the final iteration, but it totally paid off – I made the perfect pie today!
It’s a bit time-intensive, but if you roast and puree the pumpkin a day or two beforehand, then all you need to do is prepare the crust and toss together the filling. Don’t be daunted! It’s great! The pie came out of the oven at about 11:30am, and I just let it cool on the counter all day, and served it at about 6:30pm, after we all stuffed ourselves with a downright tasty Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll admit, the dinner menu was largely dictated by my pregnancy cravings, but nobody seemed to mind.
Is this not a beautiful pie? See the big butternut squash in the background – that was the size of the one I roasted up for this pie. All the veggies in this centerpiece were grown in Donna’s garden. Yum! Okay, let’s make a pie!
First, prepare the pumpkin
Get yourself a little sugar pie pumpkin. They are small, only about 8 inches in diameter. If you get a big jack-o-lantern pumpkin, not only will you have more pumpkin than you know what to do with, the pumpkin flesh itself will not be very flavorful. (More about flavor and the quality of your squash later.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Split the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, and place both halves cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until tender.
Let the pumpkin cool until you can handle it comfortably. Scrape all the pumpkin flesh from the skin. Puree in food processor. Line a colander with cheesecloth and allow pumpkin to drain for several hours to remove excess moisture. Then measure out pumpkin as needed for recipe.
One pumpkin will make enough puree for two pies, so make a double batch of filling, or store the puree in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze it for later.
Here’s my tricky little secret
You can also use butternut squash instead of pumpkin! I was disappointed with the flavor and quality of the pumpkin I’d purchased at the store – it was much more watery and bland than I was expecting from a pie pumpkin. My mother-in-law had a big harvest of butternut squashes this year, and I thought, “Why not use them?” The homegrown, organic squash tasted so much better.
To cook a butternut squash, proceed as for the pumpkin, splitting and scooping out the seeds, but place cut side up in a 13×9 baking dish with about 1″ of water in it before baking at 350 degrees for 1 to 1.5 hours. Puree as for the pumpkin, but you can skip the draining step since butternut squashes are much drier. Depending on how big your squash is, you can get anywhere from 1 to 3 pies from your squash!
Make the pies!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Make a half recipe of the canola oil piecrust found in the Peach and Dried Cherry Tartlet post.
Roll out crust until it is 1/8 inch thick, and place into a 9 inch pie plate. (An 8 inch pie plate will work also but you will have extra dough – use it to make leaves or other fun piecrust shapes to decorate the top of the pie when you serve it.)
- ¾ cup organic cane sugar (you can also use plain granulated sugar without much difference in flavor)
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 ½ cups pumpkin (or butternut squash), prepared as above
- 14oz can coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and spices together in a small bowl. Place pumpkin into a large bowl and stir in the sugar mixture, blending thoroughly to avoid any lumps of cornstarch. Add in coconut milk and vanilla, and mix well to combine.
Pour filling into prepared crust. If you use a 9 inch pie plate all the filling should fit. If you use an 8 inch pie plate, you may have extra filling, and if you do, pour into small 4-oz ramekins to bake alongside the pie.
Bake at 375 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until the crust is golden and the center is slightly jiggly but not liquid. (If you have ramekins, bake them for about 30-35 minutes.)
Let cool at least 3 hours before cutting, to allow the pie to firm up.
A final note
I realize that this pie is not gluten-free, nor is it corn-free for those with allergies to either of those foods.
If you bake the filling in ramekins, without bothering with the crust, that is gluten-free and very tasty (as my mother-in-law can attest). You can also make a gluten-free pie crust; I’m just partial to my classic canola oil crust that I’ve been using for pies my entire life.
I began the recipe development using arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch to thicken the pie, hoping to make a corn-free pie as well. However, arrowroot starch breaks down and loses its thickening power the longer it is heated, so that pie wound up having a texture similar to a thick applesauce. I do not recommend substituting arrowroot starch for the cornstarch in this recipe, but I would definitely be interested to hear if anyone makes it with yet another starch, maybe tapioca, and lets me know how that works.