Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream

Cover recipe from Fine Cooking, November 2008
Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream
FinePumpkin3November magazine covers typically feature either roast turkey or pumpkin pie.  Already having roasted a turkey from Living, I was stuck with pumpkin pie.  I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie at all.  For me, it’s always a disappointing end to a nice holiday dinner.  A lover of other pumpkin things, there’s something about the texture and flavor of pumpkin pie that just doesn’t appeal to me all that much.  Every year I try a new version… hoping to find a new one that will be a winning recipe. 

Fine Cooking is one of my favorite cooking magazines.  They have great contributors, and the recipes reflect the style and ingredients of the way I prefer to cook.  This pumpkin pie recipe from last year’s November issue looked like it was worth a try.  It was described as a spiced-up, rich and silky pie, and that caught my attention at once.  The intro to this recipe recommends taking the time to freshly grind the spices for the pie… that they’d add a depth and vibrancy you just don’t get with the pre-ground variety.    I did this, and I agree- lots of flavor and fresh scents.  Freshly ground black pepper and brandy are also included in the pie.  You don’t taste either one, but I’m quite sure they lend importance to the end result.  The texture is lighter and creamier than the typical pumpkin pie.  The whipped cream is genius… ginger-flavored with a touch of brandy.  I don’t think I’ll ever make plain whipped cream again.  I’ve finally found my Pumpkin Pie recipe… one that I can actually look forward to eating after turkey dinner.  I would not hesitate for a moment to recommend this to my readers.

FinePumpkin2Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Pie with Brandied Ginger Cream
Source:  Fine Cooking, November 2008

For the crust
1/2 tsp. salt
 1-1/2 cups  (6-3/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
10 Tbsp.  (5 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the filling
15-oz. can pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. brandy
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon stick (or 1-1/2 tsp. pre-ground cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly ground cloves (or 1/8 tsp. pre-ground cloves)
For the cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. brandy

Make the crust:  In a small bowl, stir the salt into 1/3 cup very cold water until dissolved. Put the flour in a food processor and scatter the butter on top. Pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is in pieces the size of peas, about 8 pulses. Add the salt water and pulse until the dough begins to come together in large clumps, about 7’ll still see some butter pieces. Shape the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle 16 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch ceramic, metal, or glass pie plate, easing the dough into the bottom and sides and then gently pressing into place. For a traditional crimped edge, trim the overhanging dough to 1/2 inch from the edge of the plate. Fold the overhang under and crimp decoratively. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Blind-bake the crust :  Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line the chilled pie shell with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until the sides have just set and look dry, 16 to 20 minutes (lift the parchment to check). Remove the weights and parchment and bake until the edges are light golden and the bottom is pale and completely dry, about 5 minutes. If the dough starts to bubble while baking, gently push the bubbles down with the back of a spoon. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Make the filling and bake the pie:  Heat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, cream, and brandy. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves. Whisk the sugar mixture into the pumpkin mixture.Pour the filling into the cooled piecrust. Bake until the pie is set around the outside but still slightly wet and jiggly in the center, about 1 hour. The filling will continue to set as it cools. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before serving.
Make the cream just before serving:  Whip the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until it forms very soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, ginger, and brandy and continue whipping until it forms medium-firm peaks, about 30 seconds longer. Dollop in the center of the pie, leaving a band of filling visible around the edge of the pie, or dollop on individual servings.

Make Ahead Tips:  You can make and freeze the crust up to 2 weeks ahead.  The pie may be filled and baked up to 2 days ahead.

Serves 8 to 10

Notes from Culinary Covers: 
*In the picture on the cover of the magazine, the crust of the pie has been sprinkled with sugar crystals.  I missed that, unfortunately, but it does add some sparkly pizzazz that I would include next time.
*It’s important to note that I am severely crust-challenged.  I never, ever have great luck with making any sort of crust.  This crust was basic, and it was simple as could be- easy to handle.  I didn’t have to re-roll it.  I had no problems at all, and it turned out to be flaky and delicious too.
*For my crust, I crimped the sides but then wanted to do something a little more decorative.  I rolled out the scraps and punched out circles with a cannoli tube, overlapping them around the rim of the crust.
*I freshly ground the cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper, but used pre-ground for ginger and cloves.
*The lighter and creamier texture made this pie quite different than a classic pumpkin pie.
*The whipped cream was so amazing.  Leave the brandy out if you’d like, but it’s not overwhelming and I loved the subtle flavor.

Did this recipe deserve the cover?  Most definitely!  In my honest opinion, it’s the perfect pumpkin pie, and that’s exactly what the recipe cover is trying to convey.

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

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3 Responses to “Blackberry and Apple Crumble”

  1. 1

    Lori Lange — March 12, 2014 @ 10:26 am

    I’m really glad you reviewed this recipe. I have this cookbook, and I tried hard to choose a recipe to make from it… but the ingredients called for are so strange on some of the recipes (for an American cook). For example, what the heck is custard powder? I’d have no idea where to find something like that. It does look like it turned out lovely for you though.

  2. 2

    Auntiepatch — March 12, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

    What is custard powder?

    • Faith Gorsky replied: — March 13th, 2014 @ 12:28 am

      Auntiepatch, Custard powder is used by cooks in the UK and Australia the way powdered pudding mixes are used in American kitchens. Basically, custard powder is just a pre-made powdered mix that you add milk to and heat up to get custard sauce. I’ve never seen it back home in stores in the US (but to be honest, I wasn’t looking for it), but here in Kuwait, I found it easily (it was in with the pudding mixes). You might be able to find it at the grocery store, but if not, it’s easy to whip up a simple homemade custard sauce (it’s similar to making a quick homemade stovetop pudding; a Google search will yield a lot of recipes if you want to take a look). Or if you prefer, vanilla ice cream is also a lovely topper for this crumble.

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