This time last year -- the afternoon before Thanksgiving -- I realized I'd failed to buy a can of pumpkin pie mix at the grocery. I couldn't go to the grocery because I was too busy baking biscuits and cornbread for Cornbread Dressing, making Potato Salad and Sweet Potato Souffle, cooking Aaron's Green Beans, whipping up a Chocolate Dream Pie and prepping ingredients for homemade rolls. My then 16 year old only had his learner's permit so he couldn't go to the grocery for me. I texted my husband and asked if he could pick up a can of pumpkin pie mix on his way home from work. This meant it would be later in the evening before I could make the pie but, with the sugar and spices already added to the mix, it would be a quick task.
When my husband got home, he explained that the grocery was out of pumpkin pie mix and handed me a can of pumpkin puree. He said he hoped it would be ok since he knew I kept a well stocked pantry. I wasn't thrilled about making a pie from scratch -- after all I'd been cooking all day -- but I knew he was right. This is how I'd always made Pumpkin Pie until a sister-in-law introduced me to timesaving pumpkin pie mix 20 something years earlier.
Unlike my mother, I don't make my own pie crust. I always use frozen store bought pie crusts, unless the recipe specifically calls for a package of refrigerated pie crusts. However, I have a trick for making a store bought pie crust look homemade. I transfer the pie crust from the foil pan to a pretty glass pie plate.
To do this, let the crust soften at room temperature for a few minutes. Turn the pan over, letting the crust fall into your hand and transfer it to your pie plate. If the crust doesn't fall out the first time, let it sit a few more minutes. Don't force the crust out, or you'll risk breaking the crust.
If you're transferring the pie crust, make sure to use a pie plate that's close to the size of the pie crust. A frozen 9-inch pie crust works perfectly in my 10-inch pie plate. My experience has been that the crust expands during baking and conforms to the size of my pie plate.
Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and add the filling.
Bake the pie an hour and then let it cool on a wire rack before storing it in the refrigerator.
I'm thankful pumpkin pie mix exists, but I'm also thankful for canned pumpkin puree. Without it, I'd have to seed, cut, roast and puree the pumpkin before making the pie!