Food & Wine

Alana Chernila’s Ginger Pumpkin Pie


Alana Chernila is a cookbook author, a dinner wrangler, mother to two girls, wife to an artistic preschool teacher, farmers market worker, a teacher of all-things-yogurt, and an undercover ambassador for the Berkshires, where she lives with her family. We love her blog, Eating From the Ground Up—we appreciate that she's human and makes mistakes, even though her food is supernaturally delicious. We got a sneak peak at her recipe for a cozy pie from her new book, The Homemade Kitchen, out October 6th.

My husband is a teacher, so when September rolls in, almost the whole family is going back to school. Our cooking and eating become all about comfortable routines—no more popsicles for dinner or nibbling through the day! I start to get really excited about meal planning again, and that coincides with some great fall produce and temperatures that make it possible to turn on the oven again. I start baking simple everyday cakes (my favorite) for snacks, and roast chicken becomes a staple. I love fall food—roasted stuffed squash, baked apples, late-season roasted tomato sauces—it’s some of my favorite food all year.

I could go on and on about fall ingredients. There are a few roots I can’t get enough of. I like to shred celery root and turn it into a slaw with yogurt and lime. We eat so many of those little white Hakurei turnips—raw, caramelized, in soup, or pickled. And the apples! My favorite orchard is Riiska Brook in Sandisfield, MA. We go to pick, snack on apple cider donuts, and I always come home with a few boxes of “seconds” which are really quite perfect. Then it’s sauce, pie, apple bread, and apple chips. And I love having a big bowl of those sweet and wonderful apples out on the table. They’re so different than apples at other times of the year. I also look forward to all the different little roasting squashes that start to turn up in October. Delicata, Carnival, Sweet Dumpling—I love them all. And don’t get me started on pumpkins…

Ginger Pumpkin Pie

This recipe makes enough filling for a 10-inch pie, a bit larger than the standard. If you’re working with a smaller pan and have too much filing for your crust, pour the extra into a few buttered ramekins and bake them alongside the pie for the first twenty minutes. Then you get pumpkin custard while you wait for your pie. This makes a super-gingery pie, and the crème fraîche adds a texture and tang to the custard that makes one of my favorite kinds of pie even more delicious. To up the ginger factor (and I always want to), add 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger to your crust when you add the butter.

Makes one 9 or 10-inch pie

Ingredients:

  • unsalted butter, for greasing the dish
  • all-purpose flour, for rolling the dough
  • 1 single whole-grain pie crust
  • 2 cups (490 g) drained fresh pumpkin puree or 1 15-ounce can store-bought pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240 g) crème fraîche
  • ½ cup (120 ml) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Grease a pie dish that can easily survive the direct journey from the freezer to the oven (not glass).
  2. Lightly flour the counter and roll your crust to between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick. Fold it in half, then in half again; center it over the pan and gently unfold the crust.
  3. Trim the crust so it hangs about 1 inch over the side of the pan, fold the extra crust in on itself and crimp to create a decorative edge.
  4. Put the crust in the freezer while you make the filling. (The crust can be stored indefinitely in the freezer at this point—just put it in a freezer bag if you plan to freeze it for longer than a day.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, crème fraîche, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  7. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is fairly uniform.
  8. Remove the crust from the freezer and place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
  9. Pour the filling into the crust.
  10. Bake until the pie just barely jiggles in the center, 50 minutes to an hour.
  11. Let your pie cool for at least 1 hour at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
  12. (Storage Notes · This pie does well tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

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