I’m a pretty decent baker most of the time, but if there’s one thing I’m dang good at, it’s pie. When I was eight, I won a blue ribbon at the fair for my apple pie. My grandfather, who used to be a pastry chef at a Doubletree Hotel, taught be how to make crust.

We practiced for months before the fair. I probably baked an apple pie every single weekend all summer until August 15th when the fair finally opened and I brought my final pie in. I’m pretty sure my family was traumatized by having to eat so many pies.

But anyway, Thanksgiving always makes me think of pies. And since it’s now officially past Halloween and into November, I can begin my pie-baking bonanza…starting with pumpkin!

Is it twisted to put a whole pumpkin next to its quartered, gutted, baked, and pureed cousin?  Because those two little pumpkins are going to meet the same fate in fairly short order.

Anyway, here are some random tips on making pumpkin (or other custard) pies:

  1. Frozen butter makes for the flakiest crust (unless you can get your hands on some legitimate lard, but I don’t think it tastes as good for pastries). Cut it into small pieces before blending it through the flour.
  2. Pre-bake your pie crust. If you don’t have pie weights (which I don’t) you can use a buttered sheet of tin foil, butter-side down, full of dried beans or rice. It will help the crust keep the right shape and not get soggy when you fill it.
  3. Use a light weight rolling pin to roll out the crust. If you use too heavy a pin, it will end up just mashing it to the counter and you don’t get the flaky deliciousness, you just get cracking, clumpy yuckiness. It’s kind of tragic.

That’s all I can think of right now, because I can smell pumpkin pie and it needs to be eaten. If there are any leftovers, I’ll bring you some…but don’t hold your breath.

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