The First Pumpkin Pie (Sort Of)


On PBS’s “Autumnwatch New England,” Vivian took the risk of testing out what she believed could have been the first pumpkin pie recipe. We can assure it’s the most creative! This crust-less pie uses the pumpkin itself as the base, filling it in with a custard. Vivian recommends a fairytale or Cinderella pumpkin for the best flavor. Watch her explain the recipe on episode 3 of “Autumnwatch New England” HERE

1 medium pie pumpkin (about 5-7 pounds)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 apples or pears, cut into rough 1-inch cubes
8 eggs
1 ¼ cups brown sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean
2 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, plus more for topping
3 pieces star anise
½ teaspoon black pepper
Zest of a small orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces evaporated milk

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the top off the pumpkin and hollow it out, removing the seeds and stringy insides.

Stir together the salt and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Rub that mixture all along the cavity of the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin on baking sheet and roast it in the oven for 2 hours.

While the pumpkin bakes, whisk together the remaining ingredients. I like to keep the cinnamon stick, star anise and orange zest whole. It’s fun to find them in the finished custard and I like the way they perfume the pie.

Bring the pumpkin out of the oven and pour the uncooked custard inside its cavity. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another hour. The custard should be set and the top should be brown. Let the pie cool for 30 minutes before serving in slices.