Pumpkin Pie – Completely From Scratch!

from Emily (who loves food)

In New Zealand, it’s near impossible to get pumpkin puree. It’s a totally savory vegetable here: pumpkin desserts aren’t on our radar.

Except pumpkin pie – which everybody knows about, but nobody really makes, because like I said, pumpkin isn’t considered as much past a savory dinner vegetable.

But, I had to take my hat off to American thanksgiving. I really like the idea of the holiday… a big hearty meal with all the family together. And what would thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie, right?

I’ve only every tried it once before, when I was in America in early January. It was on my list of things to try, including Peanut Butter m&ms (tried, loved), Dennys (tried, loved) and Taco Bell (didn’t try.) We were due to leave my uncle’s house and the convenience of nearby supermarkets, and pumpkin pie was still unchecked on the list. Desperate for a taste, I ended up buying an absolute monster of a pumpkin pie from Costco, of which I ate one slice before we had to leave.

Still, I got to taste it.

And that taste was enough to convince me that it was worth making again. We don’t get sugar pumpkin here, so butternut squash is the next best option, with it’s slightly sweet flesh. Much better than the roasting pumpkins, which are much more savory.

I’ve also never made pastry before. Well, I have, if you can call it that. Stiff, cardboardy stuff not worth eating. Since then, I’ve taken the frozen-from-the-supermarket shortcut, but I thought, since I was making my pumpkin pie from scratch, I may as well make my pastry from scratch too.

This recipe is more suited to those vanilla lovers (like me). If you’re not as much of a vanilla fan, sub the vanilla for 1/2 tsp lemon rind and you wont skip the flavour!

Also, it’s really easy to make this a day or two ahead – store it covered in the fridge to allow the flavour and texture to mature.



Pumkin Pie – Makes one 24cm pie

Prep time: 30 mins + cooking time  Cook time: 50-60mins


  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar (or vanilla sugar, if you have it)
  • 116g of butter, frozen-cold, cut into cubes
  • 3 or 4 tbs cold water


  • 1 butternut squash or sugar pumpkin (or 2 cups pumpkin puree)
  • 2-4 tsp condensed milk
  • 1 375ml/12oz can Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or vanilla sugar, if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or 1/2 tsp lemon rind)

To make the pastry:

Cube the butter, and stick it in the freezer, at least an hour before you want to make the pie (first thing when you get up in the morning is good!)

Pop the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, and pulse to combine.

Add half the cubes of butter, and pulse four times. Add the second half of the cubes, and pulse 4-6 times until the mixture resembles coarse meal and there are still some decent, pea-sized lumps of butter.

Dribble in 2 tbs of very cold water, and pulse a few times. Add more water, 1 tbs at a time, pulsing after each addition until the mixture holds together when you pinch it (should be 2-3 tbs of water after the initial two).

Pour the entire contents of the food processor bowl into a zip-lock bag, and using the heel of your hand, press the mixture into the bench top 4-6 times (this is called ‘fraisage’ and it makes your crust extra crumbly and flaky). Then work the dough together inside the plastic bag until it clumps into a ball. Don’t over-knead it, it’ll get tough.

You should be able to see little speckles of butter in the dough.

Wrap it up in the bag, and stick it in the fridge while you cook the pumpkin.

(If you’re making it ahead of time, you can stick it in the freezer, then defrost overnight in the fridge.)


To make the pie:

Preheat the oven to 180C, and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Cut the pumpkin or squash in half, and scoop our and discard the seeds. Lay cut side down on the baking paper, and bake in the oven for  50 – 70mins until fork tender.

Cool the pumpkin, and preheat the oven to 220C.

Scoop the flesh out of the skin. It should come out easily, and in places, the skin can just be peeled away.

Stick the pumpkin in a food processor, and blitz until smooth-ish. Add 2 tsp of condensed milk, and blitz again. Keep adding condensed milk, 1 tsp at a time, until the puree is smooth, thick and creamy (this could be anywhere between 2 and 6 more tsp, depending on the moisture content of the pumpkin.)

Remove the puree from the food processor and (optionally) force it through a sieve to make sure it’ll be extra smooth and silky.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars, salt and spices. Add the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add two cups of the pumpkin puree (if you have some left over, freeze for future use.)

Stir to thoroughly combine, then add the evaporated milk, stirring to a smooth consistency and colour.

Remove the dough from the fridge, and on a floured work surface, roll into a 3-5mm thick disk. Draping the dough over your rolling pin so it doesn’t tear, gently drape it across a lightly greased 24cm pie dish. Using your fingers, gently push the pastry into the corners. Trim off any excess.

Take your filling mixture, and pour it into the prepared crust (you don’t need to blind bake this baby!).

Bake in the 220c oven for 10mins, then turn the temperature down to 170 and bake for a further 40-50mins. Tent it with tin foil if the crust is browning to fast or the filling is in danger of cracking.

Remove and allow to cool before sticking it in the fridge, where it can be kept, covered, for up to 3 days.

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