Virginia Barton

14 November 2013: Pumpkin pie S.O.S.

14 November 2013: Pumpkin pie S.O.S.


14 November 2013




Foolishly, I have promised to make a token pumpkin pie for a Wine and Cheese Evening on 28th, to give it an authentic Thanksgiving feel. I fear it may be a case of “oh silly Ginny.”

Eaten once in 1962, never made but never forgotten, the mouthwatering deliciousness of the authentic pie is one of life’s mysteries. One never sees them in the shops here. I’m sure they have to be homemade. Possibly home-bungled.


My problems are many: I would have to lift a recipe from the internet. I don’t know how to choose the right sort of pumpkin (should it be soft? orange? large or small?) and key where I am concerned – can I not make a pastry bottom for it? Can it be a crushed biscuit base instead?

My kitchen is galley sized, my gadgets few. I do have a rolling pin and a pinny but no electric mixer. When we retired, BH and I, I vowed it would be frozen dinners and packet soups from now on. This has not happened; life is not long enough for frozen dinners…


Please could someone give me a simple, fool (ha!) proof recipe with metric measures if possible, not “cups” [how big is a cup? Huge Mansize? Coffee? Builders Tea? Ladies Tea? Demi? Dolly?] And I need lots of notice because the shopping, especially for the pumpkin will be difficult; here they are only sold for Hallowe’en.

By the way; I will need to know what to serve it on, in, with, without, hot, cold and so on.

Then I promise not to mention food again in these Commonplaces until next year.


Why didn’t I shut up? I’m not even sure pumpkin pie goes with wine and cheese. Let’s hope there are no Americans present.





  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: November 15, 2013 at 7:03 am


    Dear Ginny, carefully pour out about 2 grams of 10 pound notes onto the food counter at Harrod’s, stirring carefully with your finger to check that you haven’t poured out any more than that, say “I want your nicest traditional pumpkin pie NOW” in a loud voice, and in no more than three minutes you’ll be looking down at a beautiful, creamy, seasoned pie. Don’t forget to buy cream for whipping and brandy for drinking. Or you could tell a visiting relative to use this recipe and bring you the pie.

    The traditional pumpkin pie is the ONLY decent end for that miserable vegetable. My wife has insisted that we eat our way through all our Halloween pumpkins, and while she’s cooked them all cunningly — soup, curry, stew — it has been boring for the tongue and extremely traumatic for the digestion.

    • Ginny says on: November 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm


      You’ve thrown in the welly!! Oh no, CFW, that’s not the point at all — you are obviously no cook, just a consumer. Ginny is made of sterner stuff and will make that pumpkin pie.

  • Rosanne says on: November 16, 2013 at 12:57 am


    Hi Ginny,

    I’m just back from a couple of days away, so I’m not quite up to doing metric conversions this evening — but that is easy to find on the internet.

    I make pumpkin pie all the time — in fact, I make sweet, but not oversweet, crustless pumpkin pie — and although some like it loaded with cream, I find that a bit too heavy in every sense of the word and get the richness from spices instead.

    So — if you are using a ‘real’ pumpkin, pick a sweet one — a “sugar pumpkin”. We also use butternut squash. You can just split it, clean out (and save*) the seeds, and roast it face down on a rimmed sheet with a little water in the bottom (maybe 1/8″) to keep it moist, if you want.

    You can also use a 15 or 16 ounce (16 ounces to US pound) can of either pumpkin or butternut squash.

    Preheat the oven to 425F

    1/2 cup (4 oz) densely packed dark brown sugar

    Spices mixed together in a small bowl:
    a pinch of salt
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ginger
    1/4 teaspoon each cloves, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg (fresh ground)

    2 large eggs

    Pumpkin/Butternut squash – 15-16 ounces US

    Fat-free Evaporated Milk (a 12 fluid ounce can — could use other than fat free but no need, taste-wise)

    A pie crust (If you make your own, it should be on the less-sweet side – a flaky crust)

    Whisk two eggs together in a large bowl
    add the pumpkin, spices, and sugar and blend well
    add the evaporated milk

    If you’re pouring it into a pie crust, do it now. I often use a well-buttered square baking dish and skip the crust to no ill effect.

    In either case, bake at 425F (or equivalent) for 15 minutes.
    If you’re using the crust — bake it another 40-50 minutes at 350
    If you’re ‘going crustless’ — 30-40 minutes usually works, also at 350

    Cool on a rack.

    Good with vanilla or rum-spiked whipped cream or the best vanilla ice cream you can find.

    If you do make the crustless version, I cut it into squares and serve it that way. Yummy for breakfast as well with fresh yogurt, believe it or not.

    *What to do with the seeds: clean them, toss them in olive oil, spread them on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a good salt, toast in the oven at about 350F for about ten minutes and then stir if they need a bit longer. Watch them. They burn easily. If they’re a bit too oily (and they may not be), let them drain a little on paper towels. Very good to nibble on.

    • Ginny says on: November 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm


      Someone somewhere must have noticed a certain reluctance on my part to have a go at the pie!! Today came an anonymous parcel with TWO tins of pumpkin (just as well as there was narry a fresh one in the market last week — where have they gone so fast? To the great big canning factory in the sky?), and, a ducky little tub of the correct spices complete with “Signature recipe for pumpkin pie”!

      Not quite sure why it should be “signature”? Am I to sign it?

      Never mind about that, I am now ready to have a go, with perhaps, some encouraging music. When we had stairs, BH used to come down to breakfast accompanied by the ringing strains of a Sousa march: there is nothing more cheerfully get-up-and-go.

      Own up! Who was the mystery parcel donor? ginny

      • Ana V says on: November 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm


        Hi Ginny, there is an opinion, and I hold to it myself, that canned pumpkin is better for pumpkin pie. For pumpkin bread, too.

        Good luck with your pie. I use the recipe from “The Joy of Cooking” myself. It does use measuring cups and makes for a very rich pie.

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