For as long as I have been making them, the feeling of satisfaction when pulling a pie from the oven never goes away. Whether their all-butter crust is perfectly crimped or not or whether they are filled with seasonal fruit (my preference) or topped up with custard – any pie is reason to celebrate.
How long have I been making pie? It wouldn’t be a stretch to reply, “as long as I can remember”. I had been making them well before my dear parents bought me a pie cookbook for my twelfth birthday; perhaps they were trying to improve their chances of eventually getting a flaky crust (I tended to let my enthusiasm for baking get in the way of delicate pastry execution) or maybe they were gently encouraging me to expand my repertoire of apple pie, raisin pie, and wild Saskatoon berry pie. Not that there’s anything wrong with those options.
Regardless, branch out in my pie-making I did, as my stained and tattered cookbook bears witness. Let’s see, there was the lattice-topped orange cranberry pie, which inspired one of our favorite Christmas-time desserts, Cranberry-Orange Pie with Cornmeal Streusel Topping, and I remember plenty of orchard apple pies with cheddar crusts, a favorite still, only now I live in Quebec and sweeten my apple pies with maple syrup.
My teen years of angst were not helped by the occasional memorable pie-making disasters. I once saved my allowance just to buy high-quality chocolate for a three-tone chocolate mousse pie that ended up being a total flop. Suffice it to say, white chocolate and I are still at odds over that one.
Over time, I learned to make the perfect buttery pie crust, bake a meringue that doesn’t weep, and serve up a slice of custard pie that holds its shape when transferred from pie pan to plate.
Perhaps one of my best takeaways from my cherished and well-worn pie cookbook, however, was learning to pair maple syrup with roasted pumpkin in a dreamy, creamy autumn pie.
Forget cups of sugar and cans of condensed milk; a really good pumpkin pie needs pure maple syrup and thick cream to stand out on the dessert table and I’m convinced I have found the best Maple Pumpkin Spice Pie recipe.
I recently recreated my childhood pumpkin pie with our own farm fresh eggs and an impossibly fragrant homemade pumpkin spice blend* that I grind every fall. It was sweetened with organic maple syrup that we get from friends of ours who own a sugar bush. The sugar pumpkins were slow-roasted, then the puree** drained for a few hours to remove some of the water and intensify the flavours.
Wow, just wow. I’m both completely biased and utterly honest when I say this was the best maple pumpkin spice pie recipe I’ve ever made (or, ahem, tasted). Texturally it is smooth and yielding; the perfect recipient for pillowy whipped cream. The fresh ground spices make all the difference, nicely complementing the dark maple syrup, and enhancing the mild pumpkin flavour.
A few weekends ago, I brought two of the pies to our family Thanksgiving dinner, where my father-in-law carved up slice after slice and declared that it was the best pumpkin pie he’d had in 20 years. I didn’t disagree!
A quick query on my Facebook page proved that people are still wild about pumpkin pie, especially at this time of the year when the leaves on the trees match the rusty orange colours in the pie.
If you need any encouragement at all, I beg you: please make this pie and share it with someone you love. And don’t forget the whipped cream.
Now, here’s the best Maple Pumpkin Spice Pie recipe, as promised, with a few notes.
*You need this spice blend. Grind it, then store the blend in a small jar in the freezer and add to your baked french toast, spice snaps, gingerbread, overnight oats, apple butter, pumpkin granola, and anything else that needs a little punch of flavor.
**You don’t have to worry about making your own pumpkin puree, if that seems like work (really, it’s not much).
Have you made a pumpkin pie yet this fall?