Baking a pie from scratch is a big flex. Pumpkin pie, even though some will say isn’t only allowed between November to January, is a great pie to start with. You get experience shaping dough and making a filling. This recipe is really easy and uses common ingredients.
My biggest issue with pumpkin pie is that too often it’s bland or just tastes like pumpkin. I know. It’s in the name. It should taste like pumpkin. But. I’m not fully crazy (yet). What makes a dope pumpkin pie is all the other flavors and the balance between them all. The aroma of spices. The sweet caramelized sugar scent. I don’t want my dessert to just taste like a squash with sugar. I don’t go nuts with flavoring, but I do a bit more than just pumpkin pie spice.
This recipe was designed for the novice baker and to work on the first try. It works so well that it’s a test kitchen verified recipe at Taste of Home! Plus, I’ve had it floating around on Instagram for a few years and I’ve heard great responses to it. So, I finally decided to put it here on my blog. Truly, it’s for selfish reasons, because if my recipe is here then I can Google search for it and find it faster. My blog is more about me being lazy and unorganized. It’s so I can find my own recipes. Ya. The truth comes out. I’m a hot mess.
For this recipe to work you really shouldn’t substitute ingredients unless medically necessary. Here’s what I mean.
Desserts need to use regular sugar. Sugar has a melting point, caramelization, where the granules combine to create a variety of formations based on temperature of heat. When sugar is baked in a pie or sweet bread the sugar melts and gives the baked good a desirable structure. Sugar is what makes a cake stay fluffy, a cookie chewy, and a pie crust flakey. If you are swapping sugar with a sugar substitute (Stevia, monk fruit, etc) the results aren’t going to be the intended ones. Recipes that are sugar free are designed with additional ingredients to mimic the structure of melted sugar.
Here’s my apple pie recipe! Lots of information on that blog post too.
Sugar also does a variety of other things in baking and cooking. It isn’t just for the sweetness.
Sugar becomes syrup at 110F, melts to soft ball stage at 114F, loses more moisture to become firm ball at 118F, and over 130F it becomes crystalline. At around 150F the sugar has lost most of its moisture and it will dry to become hard candy. Anything over 175F and the sugar is burnt. Understanding this helps you to see how it plays out in various recipes.
Sugar is a preservative. It’s why you can leave baked goods out on the counter and they won’t spoil quickly. Sugar acts as a humectant (maintaining and stabilizing the water content in foods) which limits and slows bacteria and fungus growth. This is also what traps moisture in a baked good making it moist and fluffy.
Its sweetness balances flavors and helps to tone down overly acidic flavors. It’s also a naturally recognized flavor for our tongue and we perceive sugar as sweet. Artificial sugars are many times sweeter than sugar and can have a bitter taste if not in proper ratio of use.
The caramelization product, where sugar heats to above 170F, creates a brown color. That is what makes a baked good golden brown. This is called the Maillard reaction, where sugar has been heated to a certain temperature and combines with amino acids to create a darkened color and change in flavor. This is why gluten free bread doesn’t brown the same, or at all. It’s why sugar free desserts tend stay whatever color they were raw.
Avoid replacing sugar in baked goods unless it is medically necessary. It’s better to enjoy a small amount of a well made dessert than to not really enjoy a large piece of a sugar free dessert.
This is the pie crust I use for all of my other pies.
With all baking and cooking it’s important to “mise en place” (everything in place), have all your ingredients ready. Cooking is an artform and you can go with your intuition and creativity when cooking. Baking is a science and if time, ingredients, or heat isn’t right, the end result is likely to not be the intended one. As soon as you put a leavener, baking soda or powder, there is a chemical reaction started to create gas. This gas is what makes your baked goods rise. Baking soda’s reaction takes place immediately since it reacts with the acids to create gas. Baking powder has both a time delay and heat requirement to create gas. However, there is still some reaction and you want to bake it shortly after mixing. Also, once you mix all of your ingredients together, you can’t really change the recipe or fix it if you added too much, too little, or omitted an ingredient. Have everything out and measured ahead if that’s an option. It also helps to read through the recipe a few times before starting to do anything. This helps you with timing and making sure you don’t skip an ingredient or an important step.
So. Maybe you’ve made it this far. Maybe you just jumped right to the recipe. I don’t blame you. I hate when bloggers write a bunch of nonsense just to get you to scroll past ads. But, hopefully you found this information helpful. There’s so much to write about in terms of the science behind baking. I’m no expert on it, I have an English degree, but the more that I learn the better at food preparation I become. Just knowing the why and how helps you to see that sometimes there is a proper way to do things and you do them because you know that it matters. You get more standard results from batch to batch and you have less chance at a failed bake. I hate wasting food and ingredients so I try to get the desired result on the first try. None of it’s hard. You just need to do it and make some mistakes to learn from. Cooking and baking is one of the beautiful things that makes us human. We don’t just eat for nourishment. We create and explore flavors so that we can also eat for enjoyment. It’s also one of the easiest ways to bring back memories and create comfort and keep heritage alive. Every culture from every era had their food and their flavors. The more we cook those recipes the more we can honor the generations before us. It makes me sad that food gets ruined moreso every year by fad diets and all the fat free, sugar free, everything free ingredients swaps. Between that and everyone’s lack of desire to cook at home, these cultural foods are being lost and replaced with industrially created food products. This isn’t me being judgy. It just makes me sad that cultural food is disappearing and not being celebrated like it should. So. Ya. Random little paragraph in the middle of all this pie talk. Continue on for the recipe. You’ve earned it.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- 1 9 or 9 1/2 in pie pan
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil or shortening (cold)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 2-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple or agave syrup
- 3/4 cup oat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons tapioca flour or arrowroot flour (can also use corn starch)
- In a food processor, mix flour, sugar and salt; pulse in coconut oil until crumbly. Gradually add ice water, pulsing until dough holds together when pressed. Shape into a disk. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 1/8-in.-thick circle. Transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. Trim crust to ½ in. beyond rim of plate; flute edge by pinching the dough together to form the wavy edge design. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°.
- Place a piece of aluminum foil on the dough and lightly press it onto the dough. Fill with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake on a lower oven rack until crust is set, about 5 minutes. Remove foil and weights. bake until crust just starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°. This step is important and shouldn't be skipped or rushed.
- In a blender or food processor, combine all of the filling ingredients. Puree until smooth. Pour filling into crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set and filling is beginning to crack (cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary). Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight or until set.
- If you cut into this too soon, the filling will not be very firm and it could even fall. It should be refrigerated overnight or for at least a few hours.
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I’m a terrible blogger and I admit that all the time. I do, however, post a lot to my Instagram. So, if you want lots of recipes, check there too.