I often ask my brother if he wants to switch birthdays. I would much rather have a birthday in the fall. I could reward myself with long walks amid the changing leaves and pumpkin pie instead of cake (though I don’t remember the last time I had cake for my birthday). But alas, I must endure a birthday in March – not quite winter, not quite spring and always sopping wet with rain. It turns out my brother isn’t much of a cake fan either. So with the extra pumpkin purée I had, I baked him a pumpkin pie for his birthday.
As I was gearing up to shoot the process, I knew I had to get started early. It’s true, natural light is best when it comes to food photography. But the type of light is very important. 9 am light looks very different from 12 pm light and each one creates different textures and moods. I shot this sequence of pictures from 8 am to 8:30 am which was perfect! I knew I needed enough morning light but not too much to where it was harsh. The result was a very soft light with deep shadows. The lighting just made me want to stay in that spot forever and keep baking like there wasn’t a care in the world.
It’s funny, when you smell pumpkin purée it smells nothing like the pumpkin taste we know and love. Someone somewhere put a bunch of spices together and said, “this is what pumpkin should taste like.” And I agree with that person, so I don’t intend on creating anything new here. Here is a very timeless pumpkin pie recipe you can enjoy for thanksgiving (or anytime someone doesn’t want cake for their birthday).
You will need:
2 cups pumpkin purée (I used real pumpkin from a pie pumpkin but canned will work too)
1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk or 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs plus the yolk of 1 egg
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, this stuff is expensive!!)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/3 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup water (or as needed to form the dough)
Start with making your crust. Mix together flour, salt, shortening, and water and form into a dough. Knead and roll out large enough to fit a 9″ pie pan. You want at least an inch of overhang for the crimping. Roll the edges under so they sit on the edge of the pan. Next, with your index finger and thumb form small notches all around the edge of the crust. Poke holes in the crust once it is formed in the pan (this will prevent the crust from expanding during baking). Refrigerate for 1 hour.
– Preheat oven to 425 –
Combine eggs, spices and sugars, pumpkin purée, and evaporated milk and mix well. Pour filling into the crust and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The filling will be puffed up but this is normal due to the leavening of the eggs. Let cool for two hours. If you’re making it for the holidays or anything special, I would suggest baking the pie the night before and let cool at room temperature until the next day when you’re ready to eat it. This will let the pie firm up really well.
Any holiday or birthday favorites of yours? Comment below!