When you make four different pumpkin pies, all vegan, wheat-free, and macrobiotic, and then subject your family (mostly "regular eaters") to multiple taste testings, you kind of hope there will be a definite best-tasting pie. At least I did.
This time, though, two of the pies received equal praise. There was no clear winner. But then I realized: 2 > 1. Two delicious pumpkin pies is better than 1 delicious pie. Um. Duh.
Enough chit chat. Here are the recipes & reviews:
Pie #1 - 3rd Place
Recipes from Kristina Turner's The Self-Healing Cookbook.
Wheat Free Oat Crust (p. 152) & the filling for Sweet Squash Pie (p. 154)
For the filling I roasted 2 sugar pie pumpkins in the oven ( I cut them in half, gutted them, rubbed a tiny bit of salt on the flesh, then placed them cut side down in a baking dish with a 1/2 inch water, and baked at 350F for about 50 minutes). And I followed the directions in the book exactly for the crust, which baked fairly well!
Results & Comments: Last Place. It was still edible---but was just "ok" as reviewed by the "regular pumpkin pie eaters." Most people found that the crust tasted a little bitter (perhaps they weren't used to the strong taste of wholegrain flour --- brown rice flour, in particular). I was told that the filling was delicious, but not really like a pumpkin pie filling, and would perhaps do better as a savoury dinner kind of pie. It wasn't spicy or sweet enough for most eaters. To be honest, I think that the sugar pie pumpkins were a bit under ripe. They didn't seem heavy enough for their size, and the flesh just didn't have the rich colour I was expecting. For my macro-ified taste buds, the crust was just fine, and the filling was okay. But, I think it would have been more delicious had I used my favourite, kabocha squash, instead of the sugar pie pumpkins. This cookbook is wonderful though, and I highly recommend it. Most recipes I make out of it are received very very well, and I plan to give this recipe another chance in the future.
Pie #2 - tied for 1st place
I used this recipe as my base: from the Eden foods website.
My substitutions were: I used all oat flour instead of wheat flour, and rolled the crust into a ball, then put it between parchment paper and rolled it out. I needed to add a tiny bit more oat flour to make it form a ball. I also used almond milk (unsweetened vanilla flavour) instead of the soy milk. In the filling, I again used almond milk, and also used only 1/2 cup maple syrup instead of 3/4 cup. The canned pumpkin I was used was organic, in a BPA free lining can. I also omitted the nuts. Overall, my changes from the original recipe lightened up the pie and made it wheat free.
Results & Comments: Well deserved 1st place spot. The filling was really great: the spices could be a little stronger, but the texture was amazing. The crust was a clear 1st place winner though. Out of all the crusts, this one was everyone's favourite. The oat flour worked perfectly in place of the wheat flour, making it tummy friendly. It stuck together well, and baked quite nicely. I preferred this pie the 2nd & 3rd day, after it cooled off a bit in the fridge. This recipe makes a LOT of filling. I filled two regular pie crusts full and had TONS left over (must be intended for a deep dish pie) when I doubled the recipe, so I imagine the normal recipe could make enough filling for two regular crusts.
Pie #3 - 2nd Place
Crust from Kristina Turner's The Self-Healing Cookbook
Nutty Oat Crust (p. 152 ) with some modifications. Same filling as pie #2.
Substitutions: I used ALL oat flour instead of the recommended brown rice & wheat flour. I did not use any nuts, simply left them out. And I was out of sesame oil, so I used sunflower oil instead.
Results & Comments: 2nd place. This pie was definitely good. Everyone enjoyed it, as expected, because it has the same filling as pie #2. The crust was enjoyable. It held together nicely and baked well, BUT, it just didn't seem quite right for a pumpkin pie. Not so much like a regular crust. As you can tell by the picture above, it was almost like a giant not-so-sweet oatmeal cookie. I want to try this crust again with something else as a filling. This combo was good for breakfast the next day, I was told.
Pie #4 - Tied for 1st place
Based on this recipe here.
Substitutions: For the crust, I used the same as pie #2, only lightened it up a bit by using 2TBSP olive oil and 2TBSP cold water. Again, I used all oat flour, and almond milk in place of the soymilk. For the filling, I reduced the ample syrup to 1/2 cup, left out the barley malt, and used a generous 3 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon plus hefty shakes of cloves and nutmeg.
Results & Reviews: A very close flat out winner. Upon first bite, most people said this was hands down the best. But after a few more tastes, the votes were split between this and pie #2. No one could guess the secret ingredient: tofu. The spices in this pie were the strongest, and therefore my favourite hands down, and everyone else agreed that the flavour was delightful. The biggest pumpkin pie fan of the lot said that this one had the most similar texture to regular pumpkin pie. The sweetness of this one was JUST perfect---it tasted a bit sweeter than pie#2 though, despite having the same amount of maple syrup. As per the instructions in the recipe, the pie definitely does best to sit overnight in the fridge. The lightened up version of crust #2 was good, but not as good as #2 --- if you must reduce the oil, then this one turned out very well, but if you can spare the extra oil, using the full 1/4 cup in the crust will give you the best taste.
I was really impressed with pie #4. I am not usually a big tofu eater, and was definitely skeptical making this pie. As I was blending the filling (very quick & easy btw) I really couldn't predict how it would turn out. To say I was pleasantly surprised with the taste is a big understatement. I knew pie #2 would be delicious the second the filling started bubbling on the stove & I snuck a taste.
I'm really happy that I was able to successfully replace wheat flour in the crust. Changing flours in recipes is always tricky, but it turned out so well I couldn't stop smiling. I plan to do a post soon with the measurements and changes I made to both winning pies in regular recipe format for ease of reading.
Next year, I'll be making 2 pies: Crust #2 for both, filling one with pie #2 filling but adding more spices, and then making filling #4 exactly the same as I did this year.
And what to do with all that extra filling from pie #2? Well folks, that's 2 more sweet pumpkin treat recipes for 2 new posts.
Did I ever mention how much I love pumpkin?