For my first serious foray into pie making this Thanksgiving, I knew I wanted to make a classic pumpkin pie. So I made this "silky smooth pumpkin pie" from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Cook's Illustrated (and if you're familiar with the people at this publication, you'll have high expectations for this pie.)
The "secret" ingredient in this pumpkin pie is candied yams, which I think boosts the flavor of generally rather bland pumpkin significantly. Secondly, taking the extra effort to strain the cooked filling through a sieve gets rid of any lumps and ensures you have the silkiest possible result. I would just note that when straining the cooked filling, use a medium-mesh strainer as opposed to fine-mesh. It's nearly impossible to do with a fine-mesh strainer, which I tried using first. On my long list of things to be thankful for, I had to make a little room at the bottom to be thankful I recently tracked down a medium-mesh strainer for my macarons.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. I hope your table was bountiful and you were surrounded by some of the most important people in your life. I have so much to be thankful for and I think about it almost everyday of the year. May we always have a whole lot to be thankful for both during Thanksgiving and the rest of the year.
I used one of the all-butter pie crusts for this pumpkin pie.
For the filling, the key ingredients are canned pumpkin puree and candied yams. I was very happy to find the candied yams in the supermarket but you can substitute it with regular canned yams, which appears more widely available.
Mix the pumpkin puree, the drained candied yams in a pot together with the traditional spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg) and salt. Separately, combine a cup of cream, a cup of whole milk, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 3 eggs, 2 egg yolks, and a teaspoon of vanilla to make the custard.
Cook the pumpkin/yam filling over the stove top on medium-heat. Bring it to a sputtering simmer (takes about 5-6 minutes) and then continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly. You want to mash the yams against the sides of the pan and work it until it's thick and glossy, about another 10-15 minutes.
At this point, take the pot off the heat. Slowly whisk in the custard mixture and fully incorporate them together.
To get the filling silky smooth, pour it over a medium-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Do not use a fine-mesh strainer since the holes are only big enough to pass the liquid through. You want to strain the entire mixture, pressing the solids through the strainer with a wooden spoon. Whisk the mixture again.
Pour the filling into a prebaked pie crust. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 20 to 35 minutes or until the edges of the pie are set. It took me upwards of 35 minutes to reach this point.
The pie should be cooled at room temperature for a few hours, at which point the filling will continue to set with the residual heat.
The recipe for this pumpkin pie can be found at Smitten Kitchen. Again, strain the filling through a medium (as opposed to a fine)-mesh strainer.
The recipe for the pie crust can be found here.