Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Breakfast Pie

A time to be born,
A time to die,
A time to have
A breakfast of pie.

I know which time I'm ready for.

It started when my friend gave me a piece of pumpkin pie somewhere around the beginning of October. Suddenly I couldn't get enough pumpkin. Seriously, I was like an addict who had just fallen off the wagon. Who knew? I tried out several different recipes to choose a winner for what will be my Thanksgiving day pie. And then I thought, "You know with a little less sugar and a healthier crust, a person could eat this for breakfast." Oh yeah.

(Also, I will not tell anyone if you happen to eat regular pie for breakfast. Not that I would ever do a thing like that. Nope, not me.)

It took a few tries--practically enough tries to push me over the pumpkin edge. Thus, the ramekin. By the time I hit on the final recipe, I couldn't handle a whole pie recipe anymore. Or even a half (I mean, pie wasn't the only pumpkin I was eating at this point in my life). So I pulled out my trusty math skills and reduced my recipe by a third or fourth and made 2 ramekins of pie. Don't you just love ramekins.

But for you, my friends, the full pie recipe. I should note, of course, that the vitamin A count here is something to be proud of. If you cut the pie into 8 slices, each serving will give you about a day's worth of vitamin A for only 2 teaspoons of sugar (which is about how much you get in a bowl of lightly sweetened cereal such as Honey Nut Cheerios). It is not low-fat unless you forgo the crust. Sorry, folks, sometimes something's gotta give. That said, this pie is delicious even without a crust. It's also gluten-free that way. I like it with the crust because I find it more filling.

I should note, too, that if you, like my oldest son, cannot bear to eat anything for breakfast besides cold cereal, lest the world as you know it come to an end, this also makes for a great healthy dessert. (Or you could do, as one fitness magazine I read a few years ago suggested. You can put a bit of Sweet 'n Low into 1/2 C canned pumpkin. This, the magazine, assured me, would waylay any pesky cravings I might have for a pumpkin pie. That's right--canned pumpkin mixed with artificial sweetener. I don't know about you, but I think the people who make suggestions in fitness magazines have not had regular pie for a very very long time. I'll take my chances with breakfast pie.)

May all your days be bright and may your skin not turn orange from those pesky pumpkin addictions.

Pumpkin Breakfast Pie
Serves 8

For the custard:

1 C fresh or canned pumpkin puree
3/4 C milk
1 egg
4-6 T brown sugar (white works too) (6 T will give you a pie that tastes just about like a regular pie--it works out to just over 2 t sugar per slice. 4 T is more virtuous, but works too, especially if you're the type to add a dollop of loosely whipped cream. It comes out to just over 1 t sugar per slice)
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground ginger

Whisk pumpkin, milk, and eggs till smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and spices and mix.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and cook for another 30-40 minutes. A nickel-sized spot in the middle should remain and be slightly jiggly when you take it out. Or, if you have a food thermometer, it must read at least 160 and will probably be closer to 180 when you take it out.

For the crust (which you may skip if you have fat and/or gluten concerns)

1 C whole wheat flour*
1/2 C white flour
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
4-5 T water or milk
*If you'd like more protein, swap out 1/4 C flour for 1/4 C finely chopped pecans

Combine dry ingredients.

Cut in butter. You can use a pastry cutter or even a fork or 2 knives to do this. As for me, I use a food processor. Why? Just because it's easiest and I'm not motivated to make a crust if it's difficult. I've heard a blender works too. I will not even tell if you use your hands to mash it together and thereby warm the butter (oh, the flaky pastry horrors). We're not opening a restaurant here where we need a perfectly flaked crust--just trying to get something somewhat healthy-ish and tasty under our pie. You may even note from the somewhat stunning picture above that my crust is, er, not exactly fit for a magazine cover. It tasted good anyway.

After the butter is in pea-sized chunks begin adding the water or milk (I use milk) one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together.

Lay it on a floured counter or on a piece of parchment paper (this will make it easy to put in the pie pan) and roll it out to 1/8 inch thick. Flop it into your pan and cut off the edges. Add the pie filling and bake as instructed above.

It's good warm or cool and I like it with a dollop of loosely whipped cream because I'm that kind of a girl.


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