Every year, my mother and I begin mapping out our Thanksgiving menu over the phone. We’ll begin the call with a flurry of new recipe ideas, things we’ve clipped from the New York Times, flavors and spices we’re currently obsessing over (cardamom everything!) and pages we’ve earmarked from our favorite glossy magazines.
And it’s not until we’re deep into conversation about what it means to spatchcock a turkey when we’ll realize it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without grandma’s cornbread stuffing. And wouldn’t Dad be upset if we didn’t have his favorite mashed potatoes and that gravy he loves from Ebert’s Market? And would Mom’s famous cranberries taste as good without the fluffy Parker House Rolls?
On and on we’ll go, making our way around the table, until the entire menu has been spoken for by tradition alone. And we’ll save those clippings and ideas for next year, when we’ll do this routine all over again, and continue what has become our own little Thanksgiving tradition (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).
Oh, but wait! I almost forgot to mention the big deal news about this year’s Thanksgiving festivities! I am in charge of the pies! Hurrah, I’m so excited! This is a very big deal and one I plan to take very seriously. You see, this is my chance to make my mark and create a signature dish that my future great great grandchildren won’t be able to live without. “It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Great Great Grandma Mack’s Pumpkin Pile of Leaves,” they’ll all shout as they pull out a worn, vintage set of leaf-shaped cookie cutters.
So, no pressure! But I’m hopeful this recipe sticks and becomes my thing. Now let me tell you about this pie already!
If you’re a classic Pumpkin Pie kind of person, then you’re in good hands! This recipe is largely inspired by Libby’s tried-and-true Pumpkin Pie. It’s creamy, flavorful and loaded with all the best fall spices. I’ve always thought it was a shame that Pumpkin Pie didn’t come with a decorated crust like all the other pies, and this here recipe puts an end to that nonsense. Lined with a rim of pastry leaves, this pie gets the filling to crust ratio just right and makes it enormously fun to make and look at.
Oh, and if you’re looking at this and thinking it is hard, I assure you, it is not! Simply use leaf-shaped cookie cutters, or a paring knife if you want to create them by hand, and cut out your preferred shapes with the extra pie dough. Bake them separately and decorate on top as you wish! You can try to place them atop the filling and bake altogether, but I found that they wanted to sink and weren’t as golden and pronounced.
As always, I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Classic Pumpkin Pie with a Leafy Crust
for the filling:
- 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 package store-bought pie dough, or 1 batch of homemade double crust pie dough (see below for my preferred recipe)
for the homemade pie dough (courtesy of Ina Garten):
- 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
- 8 Tbsp. ice water
Prepare the dough:
If you wish to make your own dough, I highly recommend Ina Garten's recipe. It's delicious and never fails! You can of course opt to buy pre-made dough from the store or rely on your own favorite pie dough recipe:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Dice the butter and return to the refrigerator. Then, place the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
- Add the butter and shortening and pulse 8 to 12 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube (cubes removed) and then pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and roll into a ball. Cut the ball of dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Make the filling, prepare the pastry leaves:
- While your dough refrigerates, prepare the filling. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, sugar, brown sugar and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat the eggs. Then, add in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract and mix together. Then, add in the sugar and spice mixture and mix until combined. Lastly, slowly mix in the evaporated milk until combined.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. and lightly grease your pie plate, set aside. Next, on a lightly floured, cold surface, roll out one half of the dough into a 12” circle, about 1/8” thick and fit into the bottom of a 9” pie plate. Use scissors to trim the excess dough around the edge and crimp with your fingers.
- Pour the filling into the lined pie plate, leaving about 1/2" at the top. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F., and continue to bake for another 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the pie comes out clean.
- While your pie bakes, prepare the pastry leaves. Roll out the remaining pie dough (or take the other package of prepared pie dough) and use leaf-shaped cookie cutters or a paring knife to create the leaves. If you want to give them some dimension, squeeze the ends together, by the stem, or turn the leaf edges underneath so they bake like dried leaves. Use a knife to create the veins. Place your pastry leaves on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
- Once your pie has finished baking, remove from the oven and let cool. Then, remove the pastry leaves from the refrigerator and lightly brush with an egg-wash. Place in the 350 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until they are nice and golden. Remove and let cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, simply place around the rim of the pie, creating a decorative wreath. Then, slice, serve and enjoy!