Pumpkin pie is a typical dessert eaten in the fall in the United States and Canada. It also traditionally is served at Thanksgiving Day dinner. Baked, pureed squash or pumpkin is combined with spices, milk, sugar and eggs, and then baked in a crust. While I love pumpkin pie, I don’t like the crust, especially the gluten-free versions.
This crust-free version of pumpkin pie (also known as pumpkin pudding) satisfies my craving for pumpkin pie and focuses on the best part of the pie: the spiced, pumpkin-based custard filling! It is the same filling as a traditional pumpkin pie but it is baked in a dish, instead of a crust. With no crust, the time to make this “pie” and the number of calories when eating it are reduced too – so it is a win-win in many ways.
Pumpkin pie without the crust is closer to what early American colonists ate – a hollowed out pumpkin shell was filled with milk, apples, honey and spices and then baked in hot ash. It wasn’t until the 1800s that recipes began to more closely resembles the pumpkin pies of today.
Preheat the oven to 160C (325F) for glass or ceramic baking dishes or 175C (350F) for metal cake pan or pie dishes.
Butter a 23 cm / 9 inch round baking dish/pan and set aside on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add the sugar and the spice mixture and whisk until combined. Add the pumpkin purée and mix until smooth. Gradually whisk or stir in the evaporated milk.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes for metal dishes or 50-55 minutes for glass or ceramic – metal baking dishes require a hotter oven and a shorter baking time than glass or ceramic. Baking times vary significantly, so check periodically. The pie is baked when a knife inserted near the center comes out clean or if it jiggles slightly in the center but the sides are set, when you gently shake the pie.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.
Serve immediately or tightly wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
To serve, you can slice it or scoop it like pudding into small dessert dishes. It is easier to serve and is tastier when the pie is chilled for a few hours or even until the next day – the texture and flavor are enhanced. Serve with whipped cream.
* You can use canned evaporated milk or make your own. If making your own, you need to simmer 885 milliliters or 30 fluid ounces of fresh milk for about 30 minutes until it's reduced by 60% and is creamier and slightly yellow in color. You also can substitute the evaporated milk with a combination of half heavy cream and half milk – which results in a richer and creamier pie and is my personal favorite substitute for evaporated milk. More information on evaporated milk substitutes can be found here.
** You can use canned purée, which usually consists of butternut, Dickinson or a combination of various winter squashes (cucurbita moschata, cucurbita pepp or cucurbita mazima). You can make your own by slicing a small pumpkin or squash (about 20cm / 8 in in diameter) in half, discarding the seeds and roasting it cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 200C (400F) until its tender – about 45-50 minutes. You know that its done when a small knife can be inserted easily into the side, with no resistance. When cool, scoop the pulp from the peel using a spoon and purée the pulp in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth.