Just in time for Thanksgiving, we travel to Illinois. The state pie of Illinois is Pumpkin Pie, a much-loved Thanksgiving tradition. The climate and soil in Illinois are somewhat unique and ideally suited for pumpkins. Illinois produces more pumpkins than any other state, about twice as many the next two states, Texas and California. About 80% of the pumpkin acreage in Illinois is devoted to pumpkins eventually turned into canned pumpkin.
It is believed that pumpkins were first cultivated in Central America around 5000 BC. It was one of the earlier foods brought back by European explorers. It became popular in Europe (especially France) as a savory component in pastries.
In parallel, the Native Americans of the North East were also familiar with the squash, both baked and used as a substitute for flour in breads.
It is believed that some sort of pumpkin (perhaps closer to a pudding than a pie) was served at the first Thanksgiving.
Our version of the pie is heavily inspired by the recipe on a can of Libby’s pumpkin. We tried a few alterations, but without success.
Single-crust 9 inch pie shell (recipe below, or use a premade one if desired)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-15oz can pumpkin
1-12oz can evaporated milk
3/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Combine eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk; whisk until combined.
In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Mix all together and pour into crust.
Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 F and bake for 40-50 minutes more, until center of pie is set. If needed, cover crust with foil about halfway through to prevent the crust from burning.
Single Crust for a 9-inch pie
1/2 c butter, chilled and cut into small (ie 1/2 inch) pieces.
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
3-5 T ice water (amount depends on humidity)
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour and salt. Add butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas (this takes about 20-30 pulses). With the food processor running, add the water through the feed tube 1 T at a time until the dough comes together. Flatten to a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough out to a 9 inch circle (it will be about 3/8 inch or 4 mm thick) and fit into pie pan.
Inspired by the recipe from a can of Libby’s pumpkin.