We have a tradition in the Koontz-Bostow family: on the first day of fall, regardless of the temperature or the day of the week, we roast a pumpkin for pie and wash it down with cool pumpkin beer. There’s something special about this season, some secret hold it has always had on my heart. Sure, every season brings the promise of renewal or change. But Fall seems, somehow, more familiar. Even if you can’t identify with this deeper connection, I’m sure you can understand the more obvious perks: Like sweater weather. Or big warm bowls of stew. Or the fact that you can now justify listening to Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas album with a little less shame than when you were blaring “What Child is This” in mid-June. My gratuitous use of the second-person is serving as a means to distribute the shame, which is unfair. Unless, of course, you too have been marking off the days in Autumnal anticipation. I know we have.
To give you an even better sense of just how giddy we were about it, I can tell you that after reading dissenting reports on the actual “first day of fall,” we sided with the one article that declared it to be Monday September 22nd, even though there was a wealth of information which suggested otherwise. This would not be the first time I’ve used shoddy information to support my own selfish aims. Like the time I approved of the daily consumption of Nutella because the label claimed “as much calcium as a glass of milk.” Whether we celebrated the season a day early or not, it certainly felt right.
In the late afternoon, I made a run to Midtown Wine & Spirits, a liquor store whose vast bourbon collection always astounds me. Though I am wont to stake out in the bourbon section for a half hour, I was there for something else entirely: Pumpkin beer. In the picture above, though the sun shines bright on the Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale, my taste buds favor the Schlafly. It’s complex and robust with just the right amount of spice and balanced sweetness. Once back home, the beer went for a chill while I carved and roasted the pumpkin. By the time the pumpkin had softened, Raquelle had made it back home to put the finishing touches on the pie. As it went into the oven, we sat down to the table for dinner. We filled our glasses with the cool, deep amber ale and toasted to the new season. We toasted to all the seasons we’ve spent together. We toasted to the unbelievable realization that this Thursday, September 25th marks 9 whole years of loving and learning another. And with the pie out of the oven, we found ourselves impatient again. Sure, it needed time to cool, time to set, time to meld. But with the kitchen door ajar and a brisk breeze rolling through the room, this tiny bit of warmth was just what we needed. It seemed all of the night was a smile, and all of the season was a song.
Roasted Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream
For the filling(from 101 cookbooks):
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend(predominantly cinnamon, with clove, nutmeg, and allspice)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup full-fat coconut milk(the kind you get from a can)
For the crust(from the Les Halles cookbook):
9 oz AP flour
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, well chilled and cut into small cubes
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
For the bourbon whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp bourbon whisky
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Note: If you’d like to make your pie with real roasted pumpkin, you’ll need a 4 pound pie pumpkin. Chop it into the quarters, clean out the seeds and other junk, and roast it on a well-oiled pan for 1 hour in a 400 degree oven. When soft, scoop out the tender flesh and puree it with a hand mixer or a food processor.
Let’s get started by making the pie crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. When the butter is well-chilled, add it to the flour mixture. You can incorporate it using a pastry cutter. Or, you can use your hands. Whatever the case, be sure to work quickly. The butter must stay cold to preserve the flaky quality of the crust. When the flour-butter mixture is about the consistency of very coarse meal, add the beaten egg and water. Stir to bring together. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and let chill for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt, and cornstarch. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the chilled dough. Flour as needed. Be sure to roll it out so that it will be large enough for the crust to come all the way up the sides of your pan. The easiest way to move the dough round into the pan is to fold it into a half moon and to lay this half-moon into the pan. You can then gently unfold it and press it gently into the pan. Then, use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes – the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie – the edges should be set.
Let the pie cool in order to set. Meanwhile, with a handmixer or a whisk and some determination, agitate the heavy whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar, whisky, salt, and vanilla. Stir to mix. When the pie has cooled, serve it with a dollop of the bourbon whipped cream.