I love to bake pies. I mean I really like to bake pies. Much to the delight of my friends and family, I’ve been known to turn up for Thanksgiving dinner with four different kinds of pie.

I like to believe that all this baking has turned me into somewhat of a pie aficionado, a professional of sorts regarding the intricacies of deliciousness in these tantalizingly tasty circular dishes. My point in all of this is that when it comes to “how to make a perfect pie” for your upcoming holiday meal, you can take my word for it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned (time and time again) from my many years of pie making, it’s that the tastiness of a pie is tied directly to the quality of its ingredients. A simple lesson, but an important one nonetheless. And that’s why fall is my favorite time of year for pie making. With the fall harvest in full swing in the Bay Area, there is a ridiculous amount of fresh, seasonal produce coming from our local farms. It’s the season of plenty, which means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and roll out the dough.

But before we get to my secret recipe for the perfect pumpkin pie, let’s take a minute to reflect on the magic of this season, the sheer awesomeness of having local food in a metropolitan area this size and the even awesomer (yes, that’s a word..sort of) fact that we still have
thriving local farms to feed our families.

Watch the video below of a pumpkin from our partners at Fifth Crow Farm and the family that brings it home – then let’s celebrate with some pie:


How to Make A Perfect Pumpkin Pie:



1 all butter crust for a single pie pan (I like this recipe)
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (1 15 oz. can or homemade pumpkin – I usually follow this recipe)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg 
Couple of grounds of black pepper
1 teaspoon molasses 
Juice from half a lemon
1 cup whole milk

Brown Butter Butterscotch

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy cream
Splash of vanilla 


1. Set the crust: Butter the pie pan and roll out the crust so it fits into the pan with just an inch of overhang. Roll the overhang over and crimp the edges. Place the pie crust in the fridge and cool for at least 30 minutes.

2. Make the butterscotch: In a heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Continue to cook the butter until it begins to foam and turn golden, then nut brown and smells nutty. Whisk occasionally so the butter doesn’t burn. Once the butter is nut brown, whisk in the brown sugar, and then carefully add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the mixture starts to darken and smells caramelized. Turn the heat down to low and slowly add the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble a lot). Remove from the heat and whisk until the entire mixture is smooth. Cool for at least 10 minutes and add the vanilla.

3. Prep the pie filling ingredients: While the butterscotch is cooling, you can make the filling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together with the salt. Set aside. 

Congratulations, you’re on your way to having one of these for your very own to share and enjoy. Just keep reading!

4. Make the pie filling: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or in a large bowl using an immersion blender, combine the pumpkin puree with the allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, molasses and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the machine running, slowly pour the butterscotch mixture through the top of the food processor and continue to process until everything is combined. Pour in the egg mixture. Scrape down the bowl, and then slowly pour in the milk.

If your food processor is too small, like mine, I like to transfer the pumpkin mixture to the bowl I used for eggs and whisk the milk into the pumpkin mixture by hand until everything is smooth and incorporated.

5. Put it all together and bake: Pour the mixture into the pie shell and place the pie shell on the foil-lined cookie sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through as the edges just begin to set. If you notice that the edges of the crust have started to brown, you can put some foil over the edges of the crust to prevent the crust from burning. I like to start checking my pie at the 40-minute mark, as it can very quickly go from under baked to over baked.

The pie is finished when the edges of the filling are set and puffed slightly and the center wobbles just slightly. The filling will continue to cook and set after the pie comes out of the oven, so be careful not to overcook the pie, as the this will cause the custard to separate. Cool the pie for at least 2 hours.

6. Enjoy your perfect pie: This pie can be served warm, at room temperature or cool.  It will keep at room temperature for 1 day, and if stored in the fridge for 2 days. Enjoy!

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Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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