vegan baker


still-flawed pumpkin pie

pumpkin1.jpg

Go to the farmer’s market and buy a pumpkin. Something at least ten inches in diameter. You do not want a pumpkin that looks like anything you would carve. (That beautiful reddish orange above? It made the worst pie in the history of the world.) You want one that is a “milk” or “cheese” variety, which is somewhere between sickly orange, peachy pink and tan. Once you’ve bought a few, you’ll be able to tell when they’re ripe, but you should ask the farmer until you get the hang of it.

Bring it home. Set the oven to 350. Cut up the pumpkin. I usually do eighths, but it sort of doesn’t matter. You just want manageable pieces that are evenly cut. Pull out the seeds and the pithy slime, but don’t get OCD about it, just toss what seems inedible. Lightly oil a baking sheet or three, and put the pieces down. They are going to render juice while in the oven, so use a jelly roll sheet (with edges) or orient the pieces so that the flesh (not the skin) faces inwards. Put them in the oven for about an hour. They are done when you poke them with something sharp and they are soft.

Peel the flesh away from the skin. This will be an annoying and imprecise job. Use your nails and a sharp spoon. Again, don’t get all OCD. You have a whole lot of pumpkin, the goal is just to not waste a lot and to get rid of all the skin and weird blackened bits. Do not try to save the clear juice, as it will water down your puree.

Put the pumpkin in the food processor. A good blender or food mill would also work. Puree it until there are no chunks left, but stop before it looks smooth as baby food. This can sit in the fridge for about a week, though you’ll need to stir fluid back into it whenever you scoop some out to bake with it.

Now, the actual recipe.

STILL-FLAWED PUMPKIN PIE

one package mori-nu silken tofu (do not use light, but the organic and calcium-enriched kinds are great)

a splash of apple juice or soy milk or water

2 cups of pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves (make this a scant measure if your spices are fresh)

shot of vanilla (1/2 teaspoon or so)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Set oven to 400. Blend the tofu in the blender until it is entirely without chunks. This will require poking at it with a spatula or spoon. You are making thick soy cream, so you will probably need to add the splash of juice/water/soy milk. Apple cider is a nice option if you have it. Cream together the pumpkin, cornstarch and sugar. Make sure there are no secret lumps of cornstarch. Add the tofu (you don’t want it to sit out long or it congeals a bit) and mix until homogeneous.  Mix in the spices, salt and vanilla. Pour it all into your pie crust, put on a crust shield (or wrap foil around the edges of the crust), and put into the oven. Bake at 400 for ten minutes and then turn the oven down to 350. Keep it in for another 35-50 minutes. To check for doneness, you can quickly open the oven door and do a jiggle of the rack the pie is on. Or you can watch the color of the filling to see when it all acquires a “golden sheen.” When it is set all the way through, it is done.

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