Pumpkin pie made by substituting ingredients

A pie with no eggs

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On the first half of the recipe
I was looking at all the needs
There were pumpkin and sugar and spices and things
There were eggs and milk and crust
The first thing I met was a fridge with no eggs
And a pantry, ginger without
The oven was hot and the crust was sure
But the custard was anything but

You see I’ve made this dessert, it’s a pie with no eggs
It feels good to switch out some things
In this dessert you mightn’t know the exchange
‘Coz there ain’t many things to give it away

Pumpkin pie is a very close second to my absolute favorite winter holiday treat–snow! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed living vicariously through all the wonderful snow enthusiasm swirling around social media these days. Reading how the snow and severe cold are ripping apart the country puts a smile on my face! I say, “Don’t let winter get you down! Bake a pie.”

And if you don’t have all the ingredients, improvise! What could go wrong?

Earlier this week, Eric and I sat down to a homestyle family dinner with friends Jason, Tim, and Dave. I had fully intended to bake a pumpkin pie for dessert. I knew I had the cans of pumpkin and condensed milk in the pantry, and my brain fully expected all the other ingredients to be there, too. You know, left over from previous pie-makings. These are ingredients that make multiple pies after all. And last year, I made these awesome apple hand pies and these just-okay individual pumpkin pies, both with my mom’s Classic Crisco Crust recipe.

Shortening… check.
Flour… check.
Pumpkin, milk… check.
Cinnamon, sugar, salt, cloves… check.
Ginger, eggs? Nope!

As the dinner was meant to bring together and celebrate several unorthodox meanings of family, it was only perfect that the dessert would also be radically nonconformist. Sugar I can understand, but who needs ginger or eggs for a pumpkin pie, anyway? Mom?

A quick visit to the Internet revealed byte-loads of wonderful ingredient substitutions to save the day. I exchanged the two eggs with 1/4-cup of corn starch. For the lacking 1/2-teaspoon of ground ginger, I grated 1-tablespoon of fresh ginger and tossed in 1/4-teaspoon of allspice.

Once blended, the slurry took on a very familiar look and smell. It even tasted like pumpkin pie, and so it was time to move on to the crust. This was my third time making the crust by hand and my first time actually using the crust for a full-size pie. I chilled the Crisco shortening in the freezer and then cut it into pieces before adding it to a 1:1 white and wheat flour mixture. I find that using some wheat flour makes the crust wonderfully easy to form without ruining its final texture.

After an hour in the oven, the pie emerged with only a slightly-overbaked look to the crust. The custard had risen and set perfectly. The house certainly smelled divine!

Eric and I took our deviant pumpkin pie to the deviant dinner and had a delightful time. Everyone enjoyed the dessert and spoke highly of the substitutions. I will note that wheat flour makes the crust look overcooked, though it is not; the corn starch makes the custard more firm than eggs do, though not too firm; and the fresh ginger is very flavorful. Next time, I will use a 2:1 ratio of white to wheat flour, cut the corn starch to 3-tablespoons, and halve the fresh ginger.

And remember: for a good time, forget, ignore, or flat-out condemn the rules. And sing.

After one swap to get the dessert done
My smile began to appear
After two swaps to get the dessert done
It was spanning from ear to ear
And the story it told
Of a recipe changed
Made me glad to see it was here

You see I’ve made this dessert, it’s a pie with no eggs…

Brian

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