Fresh or Canned? Pumpkin Pie

The 64-dollar question is…does pumpkin pie taste better made with fresh roasted pumpkin or canned pumpkin?

Fresh-vs-Can

The answer is…it depends on what your definition of “tastes better” is.

We are no “America’s Test Kitchen”  — who’s got time for that — but we did do a little experiment. (And when I say “we” you know I mean “me.”)

I roasted a pumpkin and made a pie. Then I made the exact same pie with canned pumpkin. Lots of spices were involved.

SpicesNamed2

You should know, roasting a pumpkin takes a bit more work than opening a can. Driving to Costco to pick up one of their monster 12-inch pies might be the easiest thing of all.

(By the way, if you want the recipe for the Costco pumpkin pie, get a pen, ready? … Take 1 ton of pumpkin pie filling…)

CrimDough

Oh, I’m kidding about the Costco pie.

pumpkin-filling

Back to the fresh vs. canned smack down.

My original hypothesis was that it doesn’t matter whether you start with fresh or canned pumpkin — because all the spices would drown out any taste differences.

pumpkin tart raw

And I was right…sort of. In the end, there was a difference between the two pies.

But it has less to do with taste, and more to do with texture.

Pumpkin-Tart-Whole

The canned pumpkin pie was creamier than the pie made with fresh roasted pumpkin.

Slice-Canned-Pie

If I had to choose one, I would choose the fresh roasted pumpkin pie.

I liked the firm texture, although the canned version reminded me of all the pies from Thanksgiving pasts.

Slice-Fresh-Roasted-Pumpkin

So there you have it. Fresh roasted is the way to go…unless I’m pinched for time. Then I’ll pop open a can without a smidgen of guilt.

What will it be for you?  Roasted or canned…or Costco?


Spiced Pumpkin Tart

Pie or tart, it really doesn’t matter what you call it. I named it a tart because I used a tart pan, but it technically is a pie dough, rolled into a tart pan. I did add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the easy buttery pie dough recipe (adding it with the flour in step 1).

The combination of spices — including white pepper — and peppery, fresh ginger makes this a hyper-spiced pie. I love the flavor but really love the tiny bit of heat — a pie that bites back.

Makes 1 deep dish 9-inch tart

Ingredients
1 recipe for easy, buttery pie dough
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup dark brown sugar*
1-3/4 cup fresh roasted pumpkin puree OR 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon each of: ground cloves, white pepper, allspice
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

Method
1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Roll the pie dough out large enough to fill a 9-inch deep dish pie or tart pan (about 13-14 inches). Press gently into pan. If using  a pie pan, crimp edges. If using a tart pan, roll the rolling pin over the top to cut the excess dough off. Chill the dough-filled pan in the fridge.

2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in the evaporated milk and brown sugar.

3. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until blended. Whisk in the remaining ingredients: brandy (if using), fresh ginger, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, white pepper, allspice and nutmeg, until smooth.

4. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the pan. Place in the oven and bake until the center of the pie barely jiggles when moved and the crust is light golden brown (the crust will shrink and the filling will rise.)

5. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Place the tart pan on a large can, and slip the ring down.

6. Slide the pie off the metal bottom onto a rimless serving platter. (This is a little tricky. I use a thin, large metal pizza spiel, but you could use any wide, thin spatula, working slowly and carefully because a) the pie is hot, and b) it will break if you’re not careful.)

7. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour and then refrigerate until chilled.

8. Slice the pie, when chilled, into 8 or 10 pieces. Garnish with sweetened whipped cream if you like.

*If using light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar, add 1 teaspoon of molasses.

[NOTE: This pie will keep for 3 or 4 days, but I think it tastes best the 2nd day, which comes in handy, since it needs a while to chill to firm up.]

12 replies
  1. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    Hi Gwen!

    You read my mind and answered ALL of my questions……………now I can’t wait to roast my first pumpkin. This looks wonderful and just in time for the holidays!

    As always, I love reading your blog. You always make my day brighter………Thanks!

    Teresa

    Reply
  2. Dana Treat
    Dana Treat says:

    I love the idea of pumpkin pie because I love squash and I love all those spices, but I have never been able to choke down a piece. I love your smackdown though! Thanks for testing in the name of research! And I LOVE that deep dish tart pan.

    Reply
  3. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    OMG! Gwen this is fabulous! More than worth all the effort to roast the pumpkin…..this is hands down the best pumpkin tart I have ever had…..I will be making it again for the holidays……………Thanks again.

    Teresa

    Reply
    • chefgwen
      chefgwen says:

      Teresa, calm down honey, it’s just a pie! And besides, you’re going to give me a big head with your way too generous compliments.

      (thank you… you don’t know how happy you just made me feel) :)

      Reply
      • Teresa
        Teresa says:

        This excitement includes me roasting my first pumpkin…………well worth the effort. Which I would have never tried without your reading your blog ……….one on the how to’s and one with a wonderful recipe, making it more than worth all the effort…………….Thanks again!

        Reply
  4. diana
    diana says:

    I agree! I love making pie with fresh roasted pumpkin; I find that it tastes silkier, too, in the recipe I use. I feel like I get more compliments when I make it with the fresh stuff, too!

    Reply
  5. Juanita
    Juanita says:

    Pumpkin pie is most definitely best when made with fresh pumpkin. However, if you make the pumpkin puree the day before and allow it to firm up for 1 day or 2 then the pie will come out creamier.

    Reply
    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Juanita… thanks for commenting… I did make the puree a day in advance. Maybe I should have waited 2 days. Or, perhaps I roasted the pumpkin longer than you do, so mine was less moist. Lots of variables, eh?

      Reply

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