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Pumpkin Pie Day celebrates the humble pumpkin pie, a national favorite in the United States. Pumpkin pie is a traditional North American sweet dessert, eaten during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In fact, those two holidays are the days when most pumpkin pies are eaten by Americans. 

Although many people around the world might think of this gourd as being used for savory dishes such as soups or pasta, pumpkin is also delicious when doctored up to be eaten in the form of a dessert. And, thus, the reason for Pumpkin Pie Day! 

History of Pumpkin Pie Day

The pumpkin has become an international symbol of harvest time, and is often featured also at Halloween in the form of jack-o-lanterns and other autumn decorations. However, the pumpkin can be used for much more than simply carving. It has a whole host of options for use in recipes–and it’s actually a rather nutritious food (although not quite as much when so much sugar is added to it).

The pie made from this gourd consists of a pumpkin-based custard, ranging in color from orange to brown. It is baked in a single pastry shell, and does not normally contain a top crust. Pumpkin pie is generally flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger–a combination of which is often referred to as “pumpkin pie spice”, the inspiration for the famous coffee drink.

This pie is often made from canned pumpkin or packaged pumpkin pie filling (spices included) but can also be made from freshly harvested and cooked pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is a seasonal product available in bakeries and grocery stores in the USA, although it might be possible to find it year-round in some places.

The history of the pumpkin pie is a little fuzzy, but its origins seem to date back approximately 400 years. This was in the early 1600s, when settlers in the New World may have used the gourds to make some sort of pie. Although they probably didn’t use crusts and likely were not as sweet as they are today, they might have been flavored with honey and certain spices.

Even though the Americans claim this pie as their tradition, one of the first known recipes for something resembling pumpkin pie with a crust can be found in French and English cookbooks dating back to the late 1600s. It took another hundred years or so before pumpkin pie resembling what we know it as today would appear in an American cookbook, American Cookery, by an American Orphan written by Amelia Simmons.

And now, Pumpkin Pie Day can be celebrated by anyone, all throughout the world!

How to Celebrate Pumpkin Pie Day

Celebrating this day is a delight, particularly because it coincides with what many people around the world celebrate as Christmas Day, a perfect day to enjoy eating a slice of pumpkin pie. For others ideas to celebrate Pumpkin Pie Day, try out these tips:

Eat Some Pumpkin Pie

During this time of year, pumpkin pies can be found in many bakeries and grocery stores around the US and other places in the world. But since it’s a popular holiday, it might be a good idea to order pies ahead from a favorite bakery, to make sure they’re available for the celebration. Whether eaten with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream on top, pumpkin pie is a tasty treat!

Compete for the World’s Biggest Pumpkin Pie

Interested in earning a Guinness World Record? Perhaps the title of World’s Largest Pumpkin Pie could be challenged. The current record was set in 2010 by those at the New Bremen Pumpkinfest in New Bremen, Ohio. It contained almost 2800 eggs, more than 1200 pounds of canned pumpkin and 14 pounds of cinnamon. The final result was a pie weighing almost 3700 pounds and measuring 20 feet in diameter. Now that’s a pumpkin pie! 

Make a Pumpkin Pie

Freshly baked pumpkin pie is delicious, and not terribly difficult for someone who knows their way around the kitchen. Why not try a hand at making one at home in celebration of the day?

Ingredients

Pumpkin:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
  • Canola oil, for oiling pumpkin

Easy Pie Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (11 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Filling:

  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs

Directions

For the pumpkin: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the stem from the pumpkin and scrape out the insides, discarding the seeds. Cut the pumpkin in half and lay the pieces cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminium foil. Rub canola oil all over the skin and bake until fork-tender, about 1 hour. Let cool.

For an easy pie crust: While the pumpkin is cooking, make the crust. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add in the butter and work into the dough with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in just enough cold water (4 to 5 tablespoons) with a fork just until the flour is moistened. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball and flatten slightly. Wrap one ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another use.

Roll out the remaining dough ball on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold the overhangs under and crimp decoratively. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Line the crust with foil, fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake until the sides are set, about 12 minutes. Remove the foil and beans. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

For the filling: Scoop out the pulp from the roasted pumpkin and puree in a food processor until smooth (you should have about 4 cups). Add the condensed milk, cream, cornstarch, molasses, canola oil, cinnamon, ginger, salt and eggs and combine thoroughly.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake until the filling is set in the center, about 1 hour. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe courtesy of Nancy Fuller

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