Thanksgiving Dinner: Pumpkin Pie

Growing up, my dad was always the pie baker in our house.  He was also the pie-pusher.  No, I don’t meant to say he insisted we all eat pie (though we all did eat it heartily).  He encouraged everyone make pie.  People are so afraid of pie crust, and yes it is daunting, but he would always smile and say “If I can do it, you can too.  I have the perfect recipe for you, with a secret ingredient.”

You know what that secret ingredient is?  Sour cream.


Yup! Sour cream.  It helps to make the crust flakier while still making it manageable to roll out. He is also always quick to give credit where credit is due.  This recipe comes from Edith Norton, who contributed it to the congregation cookbook, “Our Cup Runneth Over,” of the First United Methodist Church in Schenectady, New York.

And what about the filling?  Well, the filling is from my lovely grandmother, Grace, and it’s quite simply the best pumpkin pie recipe I know.  But, I’m biased by nostalgia so don’t take it from me – make it and tell me what you think!

With this recipe, you will not know when to stop making pies – pretty soon you’ll be making peach pie with a lattice top like I did for the first time this summer.  And you know what?  You’ll succeed.  Because this pie crust really is “Easy as Pie.”

Easy as Pie Crust

3 cups flour
2 sticks (= 1 cup) butter (the original recipe calls for margarine, I prefer butter)
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (e.g., Crisco) (not oil)
at least 1/2 cup sour cream
Cut the fat into the flour using a fork until you have circa pea sized little pieces of mix. Add the sour cream. If you add too much sour cream, you end up with a sticky glob, so go on the low side to start with.

Cut the dough into two equal pieces and place a piece on a floured surface. Roll out and place the crust into your pie pan and crimp the edges how you like. You can use both halves in one pie (one for the bottom crust, one for a top crust for cherry or apple pies), or you can use the recipe to make two pies with just a bottom crust (recommended for this pumpkin pie recipe).

This dough can be frozen for at least 1 – 2 months or stored in refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.


Pumpkin Pie/Custard Mix

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

Mix Dry Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice (If you’re in Germany: this isn’t a spice I could find there when I lived there, so I used Spekulatius seasoning, which though a blend of spices tasted just as delicious)
1/4 tsp salt

Mix Wet Ingredients:

2 cups pumpkin (canned is fine; fresh winter squash works just as well
as fresh pumpkin)
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tall can (about 1 2/3 cups) evaporated milk
1/2 cup of water (if you cook your own pumpkin and it is dry, use up to a full cup of water.  I’ve found half a cup is more than enough for canned pumpkin)

Combine the two mixtures and pour into prepared pie crust and bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit then 35 – 50 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2 Comments to “Thanksgiving Dinner: Pumpkin Pie”

  1. Hey Kerstin! Do you by chance have a substitute for evaporated milk? I’m not sure if I can find it here in Germany!

    • Heather, in my notes I had written that I used condensed milk in Germany and it seemed to work fine. However, if you only find sweetened condensed milk, you may want to use less sugar, since sweetened condensed milk has a lot of sugar in it already. Likely I didn’t do this or I would have written it down, and I’m sure the pumpkin pie turned out really well, just very sweet. Unsweetened condensed milk (though I don’t recall ever seeing that in the grocery store) should theoretically be the same thing as evaporated milk. Here’s more info:

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