Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to make Pumpkin Pie from Scatch. In Italy.

1. Brag to all your friends about how yummy pumpkin pie is. Get roped into making some for the Halloween party.
2. Explain to everyone three times that pumpkin pie is indeed a sweet and cannot be served as a main course.
3. Buy zucca from the store. “Zucca” is the translation of “pumpkin,” so even though it’s a different shape (and green on the outside), assume it will come out just fine. Don’t expect to find it in a can.
4. Removed the seeds from the quartered zucca. Try not to fling them all over your apartment in the process.
5. Boil or bake the zucca until the flesh comes off the skin easily. Remove the skin when cool enough to handle.
6. Puree the cooked zucca with a fork until it is a uniform, smooth consistency. Set aside.
7. They don’t sell pie crust in Italy, so you must make it from flour and margarine. Find a recipe online and follow it as best as you can. It’s surprisingly easy, and fun to get your hands into.
8. Put the finished dough into the fridge. Spend an hour picking pie dough bits off the rug. Next time don’t let it be quite so much fun.
9. The next day, you are ready to make the pie. You will need: zucca puree, pie dough, pie pan, sugar, egg, evaporated milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
10. Set the oven to 400 degrees F. This is probably 215 degrees Celsius.
11. Roll out the pie dough. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine bottle (preferably empty) works fine. Use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. Sneak tastes of the dough.
12. There are no pie pans in Italy with angled sides. A torte or cake pan with 90 degree sides will suffice. Carefully transfer the crust to the pan and flatten it down. Using your thumb, flute the edges attractively.
13. Mix the filling.
14. There’s no evaporated milk in Italy. You can make it by preparing powdered milk using fresh milk instead of water. If you don’t know this, thicken some cream with flour and let it simmer a while until it gets to roughly the right consistency. Do this ahead of time so it is cool when you are ready to make the pie.
15. There’s no allspice or powdered ginger either. Substitute cloves. Don’t worry if you have to grind the cloves yourself; just pick out the largest pieces and use the finer ones in your mix.
16. Relish the chance to grate fresh nutmeg instead of using stale powder from a shaker.
17. Stir everything into the zucca and then pour it into the crust.
18. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees F (175C?) for another 45-60 minutes.
19. Serve chilled. Don’t worry if the crust flops; that’s because there wasn’t an angled pie pan. Don’t worry if it comes out a rather nuclear greenish-orangeish-yellowish color; it will still taste delicious.
20. Explain to everyone three times that no, this is not pumpkin cake. Because it has a crust, we call it pie.
21. Note that it does not pair well with Tiramisu.
22. Enjoy! Happy Halloween!

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