Tag Archives: baking

Smoked Pumpkin Pie

Our garden was a disaster this year. A late start, some inattention during a critical early period, and very few hot days left us with not a lot of produce. The tomatoes were pathetic, and the zucchini only really started producing at the beginning of September. Therefore, we leaned on the farmers’ market more than usual.

However, one item that we always get from the market, regardless of how well (or how miserably) our garden did, is pie pumpkins.

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I am a lucky woman, because my husband makes a wonderful pumpkin pie. And he doesn’t use the canned stuff; he starts with an actual pumpkin, roasted in the oven. And… he’s starting smoking the pumpkin before roasting it.

When he first suggested doing this, I admit to being skeptical. Smoky pie? I rolled my eyes. Ever since we got the smoker, he’s smoked a huge variety of things, and I’ve liked most of them. But smoky pie was just weird, I thought.

I was wrong.

Actual Pie

Obviously, you don’t want the pumpkin saturated with smoke, so it’s only lightly smoked. Pumpkin is like a sponge for smoke, so it’s a good idea to smoke it at the tail end of some other smoke job you have going. I’ve included instructions in the recipe below. But he had a few other suggestions that might help you find success:

  • Make sure you’re getting a pie pumpkin. You can make pies with regular pumpkins (like the ones you carve for Hallowe’en), but they won’t taste nearly as good. Proper pie pumpkins have dense flesh and a high sugar content.
  • Heft it a bit. You want one that’s heavy for its size.
  • Pick a pumpkin with at least an inch or two inches of stem left, and avoid pumpkins with soft spots.
  • Use a mild, sweet smoke like apple or maple.
  • Save any leftover pumpkin puree in a freezer bag, and use it in soups, muffins, or to pad out your next pie.

Finally, he noted that he screws with this recipe constantly; this is just its current iteration.

Smoked Pumpkin Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A pumpkin pie with a light smoky flavour, perfect for fall.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 16
Ingredients
Smoked Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 pie pumpkins
Pumpkin Pie
  • 4 cups smoked pumpkin puree
  • 1 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup half-n-half
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (rounded) nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 2 prepared pie shells (using your favourite recipe or store-bought)
Instructions
Smoked Pumpkin Puree
  1. Preheat smoker to 250°F and start apple or maple smoke.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Split pumpkins vertically and remove seeds.
  4. Place pumpkins in smoker.
  5. Smoke for 20 minutes, then remove from smoker. (Pumpkin absorbs smoke like a sponge, so beware of leaving the pumpkins in for much longer.)
  6. Line two cookie sheets with foil and cover the bottom of the sheets with water.
  7. Place smoked pumpkins face-down on the foil and place in oven.
  8. Bake until soft. After 30 minutes, check the pumpkins with a fork. Continue to check every 15 minutes until they are done.
  9. Shut off oven and open the door slightly. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
  10. Remove skins and cut into chunks. Process pumpkin in a food processor until smooth. Note: Smoking can dry the pumpkin out. If your pumpkin puree is too dry, add a bit of water, orange juice or vodka until it has a smooth consistency.
Pumpkin Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the pie mix into the prepared pie shells. Cover the edges of the crust with foil or a pie crust shield and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes. Pies are done when an inserted knife comes out clean.
Notes
Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

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Springerles

I am not a baker. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I much prefer cooking, where you have a great deal of leniency in what and how you can cook. Errors can be caught and fixed before the dish goes on the table. Don’t have a specific ingredient? No worries, just substitute something similar.

Baking… baking involves MATH. It involves a great number of ratios and exact ingredients. And after you’ve committed your batch to the oven, it’s like peering into the core of a nuclear reactor: if anything goes wrong, too bad! You have to wait for it to finish. And if you totally screwed up, there’s no fixing it.

So I when I bake, it’s for specific reasons or with very tried and tested recipes. And Christmas is one of those specific reasons where I really get the urge to bake: to satiate my nostalgia.

Springerles, baked

Among all of the cookies that my family traditionally made was the springerle. Springerles are a German cookie flavoured with anise. Traditionally the flavouring came from scattering anise seed on the cookie sheet, but my mother’s recipe calls for anise oil. After mixing, the dough, which is very stiff, is decorated using a stamp or a roller with traditional designs. (I use a rolling pin. Also, after I noticed that one of the designs looks like a dick, it’s something that I simply cannot unsee. My inner 10 year old salutes you.) After cutting the cookies apart, they have to stand and dry for a day or so before baking.

Springerles, unbaked

Because of the chilling and drying time, these aren’t cookies that you can just whip up in an hour or so. That, combined with my reluctance to bake, means that I don’t get around to making these every Christmas.

However, this year I had the time and the inclination, and so I made springerles. That means on Christmas Eve we’ll be able to sip steaming mugs of hot chocolate and dip springerles into them as we watch the cats disassemble the Christmas tree.

Aah, traditions.

Merry Christmas

Springerles
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An anise-flavoured shortbread cookie.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Serves: 30-40 cookies
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 4 ½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp anise oil (to taste; make sure it’s anise oil, not extract)
Instructions
  1. Using a whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the eggs until light (about five to ten minutes). Add the sugar slowly and beat until very light (another five to ten minutes). Add the anise oil and mix until incorporated.
  2. Switch to a flat beater. Sift the baking powder into the flour, then add to the batter slowly. Mix thoroughly (the dough will be quite stiff.)
  3. Chill covered for about an hour (or if you live in Winnipeg, place on your back porch for about 20 minutes). Roll the rough to approximately ½ inch thickness. Roll or press designs into the dough, then cut apart and arrange on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  4. Leave exposed overnight, or until the designs on the top are dry. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies for about 30 minutes. Watch them carefully so that they do not brown.
  5. Transfer to a cooling rack. When completely cool, store in a sealed tin. As they age they will become tender. Makes 30-40 cookies.

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