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Video: How to bake pumpkin pie — without the can

TODAY recipes
updated 10/23/2012 5:15:06 PM ET 2012-10-23T21:15:06

Fall is pumpkin pie season, but next time you're reaching for the can of puree, consider making it the Mark Bittman way — from scratch. Here, the cookbook author shows you how to make a traditional pumpkin pie with fresh squash and a graham cracker crust. In the mood for something a little less sweet? Also try his recipe for caramelized, roasted squash.

Recipe: Pumpkin pie (on this page) Recipe: Roasted squash (on this page)

© 2013 NBCNews

Recipe: Pumpkin pie

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces graham crackers, broken, or more as needed
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted, or more as needed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh (or canned) pumpkin puree (unsweetened and unspiced)
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half, cream or milk
  • For pumpkin puree:
  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin

1. To make the crust, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the sugar and graham cracker pieces in the bowl of a food processor and process until they're finely ground. You should have about 1 1/2 cups; add or remove some if not. Slowly add the butter and pulse a few times until they're all moistened by the butter (if the crumbs aren't all moistened, add a little bit more melted butter). Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and sides of a pie plate.

2. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, just until it begins to brown. Set the pie plate on a rack; the crust will crisp as it cools. Turn the oven up to 375.

3. While the crust is baking, use an electric mixer or a whisk to beat the eggs with the sugar, then add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the pumpkin puree, mix, then add the half and half.

4. Put the pie plate with the crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust all the way to the top (you might have some left over). Transfer the whole baking sheet to the oven (in case of spillover) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture shakes like Jell-O but is still quite moist in the center. Cool on a rack until it no longer giggles, then slice into wedges and serve, or refrigerate for a day or two.

For the fresh pumpkin puree:

1. Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin, then pull off on the stem and discard it. Use the cavity as a handle and peel the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler. Using a sharp and sturdy knife, cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds with an ice cream scoop or heavy spoon. Cut or scrape off any excess string and cut the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pumpkin; boil until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the pumpkin and puree until smooth in a blender or food processor.

Serving Size

Makes 8 servings

Recipe: Roasted squash

  • 2 pounds any squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash and cut them into 1 to 2-inch chunks, put them on a baking sheet, and toss them with the oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. If they're too crowded, consider using 2 pans.

2. Put the squash in the oven and roast without stirring for 20 minutes, then check. If the squash releases easily from the pan, stir or turn the pieces with tongs. If they look dry and are sticking to the pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon or more olive oil. Continue roasting, stirring or turning the squash once, until it is golden but still not tender all the way through, another 20 minutes or so. Sprinkle with sugar, then return to the oven and finish cooking.

3. The squash is done when it's tender on the inside (a sharp, thin-bladed knife will easily pierce the center of one piece); this will take another 20 to 40 minutes depending on the type of squash and the size of the chunks.

4. Remove the squash from the oven, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

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