SILKY SMOOTH PUMPKIN PIE WITH EINKORN CRUST (DAIRY FREE)

Sunday, we walked. Out into the trees. A long wander, surrounded by the young, twig-like trees of the Appalachian.
The drive up we watched as leaves turned and flew in formation across the Blue Ridge Parkway, like packs of butterflies or birds. We stopped and took a long hike into the mountains. Crunching along the trail at a wicked speed, we ate wild, minty, pink tea-berries, chatted about our chocolate plans, our holiday plans, our families and our love. We kicked up spotted leaves in brown and gold and grape. We walked alongside each other under the quickly dispersing canopy. One would push ahead, the other drop back to admire the clarity of the stream. Then switch. Smells of ice and sweet, musty decay all around. Time to celebrate an almost-naked autumn before its full winter display of bare branches. And at our lookout spot over the valley, wind looking for every nook and cranny in which to nestle and freeze, we ate an entire pound of trek mix between the two of us.
We prepared to make a pie long before we went on the hike. We packed everything together -- no we didn't make it in the woods -- so that when our hike was done, we could go to his parent's serene, woodland home and bake this thing. Man had pie on the mind. I'm always happy to follow through with pie-inspiration on a Sunday afternoon. I get the satisfaction of creating something to share, and Logan gets to fill his belly with warm, silky smooth, creamy, pumpkin-y stuff. Co-conspiring can be rewarding.
Pumpkin pie. Next to apple pie, it's the most All-American food out there. Actually, probably more so as pumpkins are actually from North America -- vs. apples with originate in Mongolia.
There must be thousands of pumpkin pie recipes out there. Why should this one be any different? Well… it's dairy free, for one. The texture is silky and the pumpkin flavor full and rich while not being painfully sweet. And it's ours. It's the result of years of attempts to make great pumpkin pie, followed by sadly limp, liquid, grainy messes. But, thanks to a recipe by smitten kitchen, this pie variation is now committed to memory. It's the Byrd pumpkin pie. Creamy, smooth pumpkin custard in an easy-to-make, flaky einkorn crust. Yes.
The secret -- of course there is one -- is to cook down your pumpkin puree to remove excess moisture. Oh, and high quality egg yolks. LOTS of 'em.
Silky Smooth Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe
(makes two 9 inch pumpkin pies)
For the custard:
6 cups pumpkin puree (or roast your own*)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground anise
2 eggs + 4 egg yolks (I used small, fresh farm eggs)
2 cups full-fat coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped of its seeds
For the crust:
1.5 cups einkorn flour (or spelt flour)
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp solid, room temperature coconut oil (approx 65'F to 70'F)
1/3 cup yogurt (I used a thin, kefir-like fresh goat yogurt, but any thin yogurt will do. To make it dairy free use coconut or soy yogurt.)
Preheat oven to 400'F.
To make the crust:
Line a flat surface with parchment paper.
In a Cuisinart fitted with an S blade, combine einkorn flour, salt, and solid coconut oil. Pulse 7 to 8 times to combine. Turn the Cuisinart on and, while it's running, pour in the yogurt. Blend until the mixture begins to form a large ball.
Scrap the dough from the machine and form it into a large ball. Place on your parchment paper. Cut another large square of parchment paper, and lay it on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll your dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Remove top slip of parchment, and flip your crust upside down over top of your pie plate. Trim edges to your fancy. Prick bottom with a fork, cover with parchment paper and line with baking weights or pennies. Bake at 350'F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, remove weights and parchment paper, and fill with your pumpkin pie custard.
To make the custard:
In a large pot, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and anise. Cook down for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite thick.
While the pumpkin is cooking down, combine coconut milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla bean.
Once the pumpkin has thickened, let cool 10 to 20 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk & egg mixture, and combine completely. Pour pumpkin custard into your prepared pie plate, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350, and cook 30 minutes more. When it's time to remove the pies, the edges will be firm -- though the centers make still seem underdone. Remove pies and let cool 2 to 4 hours by a windowsill or on a cool surface. Radiant heat cooks the center of the pie during this cooling period. (If you immediately cool your pies in the refrigerator, the centers will never set.)
Serve with a good cup of coffee, whipped cream, and a touch of chocolate ganache (of course).
*To make pumpkin puree: Preheat oven to 400'F. Halve and de-seed your pumpkin (save, wash, and toast the seeds w salt & coconut oil for snacking). Roast on a parchment lined sheet for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork can be easily plunged into the flesh. Let cool 10-15 minutes. Scrape out pumpkin flesh, discarding the skin. Place scooped out flesh into a food processor, and process for 10 minutes, or until completely smooth (check for graininess by rubbing a bit between your fingers). Stores for approximately a week in the fridge, a month frozen.
notes:
1. this makes two pies, so just halve it for one (that's pretty much a no brainer, yes?).
2. the sweetness is about half that of other pumpkin pies, I believe. which is how I like it (and why I have been eating it for breakfast). but amp up the sugar for thanksgiving, if you like. I would only add 1/4 cup more sugar, personally.
3. the crust pictured is a wholly wholesome gluten free vegan pie crust that i bought on one of those almost-too-tired-to-bake days (it's actually quite good for store-bought). the crust recipe is one I have now used many times and stand by, and it is preferable to the store-bought one.