Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pies aren't just for Thanksgiving! My husband's uncle turned 60 a few days ago. He LOVES pumpkin pie. I had made pumpkin pies in the past for his birthday. I skipped last year because I was pregnant, but I figured I'd get back to it this year.

I love making pies. Pies are by far my very favorite thing to bake. Cream, fruit, custard, it doesn't matter. I love them all. I think I like to make pie so much because I make good pie. A lot of people have trouble making pie dough. It is definitely something that has to be done time and time again to perfect. The real trick is to not mess with it too much. The less you work the dough, the more tender it will be. My first job as a baker, I made pies. That was pretty much all I did for the first 4 hours of every day. I definitely perfected my pie dough techniques working there. You just have to have a feel for the right consistency. Some days, the flour/shortening mixture may need a little more water than other days. My best advice to anyone who wants to make a great pie crust is to not give up. Just keep practicing. And remember, most importantly, DO NOT overwork the dough.

Pumpkin pie has a long history here in America. English settlers in the 1620s were filling hollowed pumpkin shells with milk, honey and spices and baking in hot ashes. However, it was not until 1796 that the first American cookbook was published with a recipe resembling today's pumpkin pies. American Cookery, by an American Orphan by Amelia Simmons was the first cookbook written and published in America. It was also the first cookbook to have recipes highlighting ingredients native to America. This cookbook included a recipe for "pompkin pudding." These puddings were baked in a crust and were very similar to the modern day pumpkin pie.

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