Adventures in Ratio Baking: Pumpkin Pie Attempts

So, it’s fall. It’s the time of everything pumpkin pie spice. For me, it’s time for just one, single pumpkin pie. A frozen one that I’ve loved since I was a child. Unfortunately, I have a hard time finding it.

A couple of months ago, I got it into my head that I really wanted cherry pie. I only had some of those flimsy 8-inch disposable pie plates, so my bottom crust was a bit raw. It was still good, but I was irritated about not being able to check the bottom for doneness, and 8 inches was a little too big for me to finish on my own. A little too much complaining and grumbling led me to looking at smaller, glass pie dishes. I found one and my husband insisted on getting it for me. In exchange for an apple pie.

We’re not big pie eaters. I was on the fence about getting the thing, but my husband is insistent, and the pie dish was a smaller 6 inches, so it seemed like a good idea. Maybe it was too much of a good idea. It’s fall and I have a hard time finding my favorite pie, but cans of pumpkin puree fill the grocery shelves year round.

It was time to try making my own pumpkin pie! For the first time ever, actually.

A Little Research

Since I’ve never made pumpkin pie, I had to go and look up what, exactly, pumpkin pie filling is. Along the way, I read a lot about pie in general. I’m now dreaming of a lot of different pies I never thought I’d ever make, let alone eat. Or should it be the other way around?

Anyways, pumpkin pie is a custard pie. A baked custard pie. That meant I should be able to use the custard ratio of 2:1, 2 parts dairy to 1 part egg, to make the filling. All I had to do was add the pumpkin puree, some pumpkin pie spice, and some sugar. It’s so easy I don’t know why I didn’t try this years ago! Convenience, I suppose. Though there’s nothing convenient about roaming through the frozen section in half a dozen markets before giving up. Which is unwise in the middle of a pandemic.

Attempt #1

My husband can’t have lactose, so using the evaporated and condensed milk I kept seeing in the recipes was a no-no since he wanted to try it, too. His milk is a lot thinner in comparison to the evaporated and condensed milks, so I was a little concerned about whether the custard would be rich enough. But that can of pumpkin was so big I was sure I could make 3-4 pies since my pie dish is so small and cute.

The pie crust was super easy. The ratio is 3:2:1, 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat to 1 part water. Just cut in the cold fat into the flour and then add in cold water. Mix it until it comes together and then stick it in the fridge for about an hour. My pie crust is always on the softer side and fairly pliant, which makes it a lot easier to roll it out to about a quarter inch thickness. Drape and tuck it into the pie dish and trim the edge.

The filling was also insanely easy. Since my pie dish is only 6 inches, I went small and used one egg, which weighs about 50 grams. The milk weighed about 100 grams. To them I added two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, about half of a quarter cup of brown sugar, and about a cup of pumpkin. I mixed it all together and poured it into my crust. Then I baked it at 450 for 20 minutes and then turned it down to 350 for another half hour or so.

So, the crust was good. The custard was a little watered down. The milk alone was definitely not rich enough. My husband insisted the flavor was good, but it just felt a little too thin. Still, it disappeared in a couple of days. After all, a 6 inch pie is actually pretty small!

Attempt #2

For my second attempt, I used condensed milk and a bit of milk for the dairy, otherwise I did exactly the same as above. It was better, an improvement, but still a little thin. My daughter, though, discovered she really liked the pumpkin pie filling. She insisted on eating half of the filling from each of the 4 slices.

Attempt #3

Okay, so using milk was not working out at all. I had no evaporated milk and no patience to make any, so just used condensed milk only for the dairy. It was such an improvement! Not exactly perfect, not 100% what I was looking for, but it was rich and thick and tasted just like pumpkin pie should. My daughter would agree. She ate half of my pie. I just can’t believe I forgot the whipped cream for three pies! I’m sure she would have eaten that and left me my pie.

Pumpkin pie

The Only Problem…

The only problem I had was that the custard was always a little too much for my crust. I always had some left over, and I really hate throwing out perfectly good food. I actually mutter angrily to myself whenever I clean out the fridge and discover hidden containers that were pushed to the back and, well, hidden. Honestly, the way our fridge is laid out, that happens a lot and it really, really bothers me.

Anyways, I took to saving it in a jar. But then I had the problem of what on Earth to do with it. I still have pumpkin sitting in the fridge, waiting to be made into a final pie, and making more filling and adding in the same amount would still give me too much left over.

Well, eventually I hit on a solution, which I’ll talk about next time: pumpkin pie muffins!

For more adventures in ratio baking or for my recipes, drop in over at the Kitchen.

  1. D. Wallace Peach

    You did well, Kat. I’m always having to fiddle with recipes these days to adjust for dietary needs. So good for you for trying options. 🙂 I used to purchased pies at the grocery store, secretly dispose of the box, press a fork into the pie crust rim to make it look homemade, and tell my husband that I baked it. To this day, he thinks I make amazing pies. Lol.

    • kat

      Thank you! That’s why I’m loving ratio baking so much; it gives enough wiggle room to work with dietary restrictions. That sounds like a much easier tactic! It’s amazing how well store bought pies can actually look homemade, or that homemade pies look like store bought pies.

  2. brookecutler2

    Oh good lord, I adore you, Kat. 🥰 And thank goodness you live so far away, otherwise I’d not fit into my pants anymore!! Ha ha ha. Delicious! I’ve always wondered what exactly is in pumpkin pie. ☺️

    • kat

      Haha, but I could use all the help I can get! I’m a little surprised I haven’t looked into what is in pumpkin pie earlier. It was shockingly simple, but so delicious.

    • kat

      It is definitely a good time of the year for pie. I especially like that it really warms up my home. It’s actually been a lot of fun to try out new things, though my kids have learned to be a little wary of what I make.

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