Today I’ll be baking another pumpkin pie, this time using the 1940ish recipe listed above, in my Grandma’s own hand.
See below. This is Alice, around the time the recipe was written.
I won’t go into the particulars associated with making this pie as my methodology will be unchanged from the last pie, see part two of this series.
There are four constants:
- The fresh pumpkin filling, baked and prepared yesterday.
- Land O’ Lakes cream.
- Straight from the coop eggs.
- The Walmart pie crust.
Here’s what is going to be different. Grandma’s recipe uses an additional egg, as well as less milk/cream. Also, she made the brown sugar/white sugar proportions identical, and she used different spices.
And that’s going to be a big difference in this pie. She wrote a note on her recipe about substituting cloves and ginger for nutmeg, I am going to do as she suggests for the following reason; Dad says she never used nutmeg in her pies as long as he knew her, since 1972 or so. (when I did the substitution for nutmeg I used 1/4 tsp each for ginger and cloves. It worked fine!)
So I’m going to try to play this straight. I’m curious if the pie turns out similar to the pies I remember throughout my life; she baked past her ninetieth birthday.
I do not doubt that this pie will taste and cook differently from the Civil War pie.
Let’s see, shall we?
Using the same method as described in Part Two, I stuck this in the oven.
It could be my imagination, but this pie mix seems to have a more orangish cast. Probably because there’s a hair more pumpkin in the recipe, 2 cups (16oz) as opposed to 1 3/4. BTW- that eight inch pumpkin had exactly enough puree for two pies! Be sure to conserve puree- I barely had enough.
I’m curious about a lot of things with this recipe, not the least of which is taste. How will the cooking time be affected? How rich will it be? Will the heavy dose of cinnamon stand out?
All there is to be done now is to wait.
A surprise- if anything, this pie took longer to bake! Here’s what my cycle looked like as I did it- I checked the pie with the knife method after 45 minutes. Shouldn’t have bothered- it wasn’t close until about an hour and ten minutes on 350F. 15 @ 400, 30 @ 350, 15 @ 350, 5 @ 350, 5 @ 350, 5 @ 350, 5 @ 350, 5 @ 350, 5 @ 350, 2 @ 350. So in total 77 minutes at 350, as opposed to half an hour.
An observation- don’t bother to poke it while the center is still cratered.
Finally, the pie was done (hopefully).
Here’s how it looked after it cooled a few minutes.
This pie looked a little different from the 1865 pie; perhaps a darker shade of brown-orange and a more porous look. I think that might have to do with its higher egg content. Maybe.
Proof’s in the pudding, though. After this cools, I’ll sample it and write it up.
So I had two pieces.
That really says enough, but I’d like to go a bit in depth. The WW2 pie is definitely sweeter, less exotic tasting than the 19th century pie. Its taste is more in line with a conventional product, although I must say that if you use your own pumpkin, fresh eggs and cream you will get a superior pie. Both recipes make that clear.
My two cents? Both of these pies are excellent. I give a slight edge to the 1865 pie, though, because of its originality and the way it makes its ingredients really shine. Grandma’s pie, while awesome, is just a tad too sweet. However, if I would not have had both pies readily available, I would have never noticed.
And my family? They prefer Grandma’s pie because of the sweetness.
So it’s kind of a toss-up as to which pie is better.
- Fresh pumpkin kicks the crap out of canned.
- Go with cream over evaporated milk. I get why they used it years ago, but cream is better.
- Nutmeg, while not overpowering, makes a real difference.
- Walmart ready-made crusts rock!
- If you have access to them, get quality free-range eggs. Better yolks, happier chickens.
- Less is more with sugar.
Final reflection- I am really glad I tracked down these recipes and did this. Also, now that I’ve set them on the internet, they will live forever.
In some small way, this is a tribute to my Grandma, a kind lady who lived a long and meaningful life.
If you get a chance, try these recipes this Thanksgiving. For my friends in Australia, try to source a genuine North American pumpkin and put something unusual on the table this summer.