Dear bon appétit: Please Don’t Ban the Pumpkin Pie!

Dear bon appétit:

I picked up my November 2014 copy of bon appétit magazine last week, and was very disappointed in the headline for your Thanksgiving dessert section: “YOU DON’T NEED A PUMPKIN PIE ON THE TABLE What you do need is plenty of other (more decadent, more delicious) desserts”. There are so many things in this statement that I disagree with, including the fact that the text took up a whole page; somehow it all just seems disrespectful of the Thanksgiving holiday.

First, of course we NEED a pumpkin pie on the table. I’m all for having other desserts, but those options should come after the pumpkin pie is firmly fixed on the menu. Nothing says “Thanksgiving” more than the turkey, the stuffing, and the pumpkin pie! Taking the pumpkin pie out of this equation shows total disregard for time-honored Thanksgiving rituals and traditions. I believe we should be about building those rituals and traditions instead of taking them away.

I also contend that a well-made pumpkin pie is delicious and that Thanksgiving is not really about decadence. The desserts should be home-y and familiar; delicious and memorable. “Home-y” means whole pies or pie-like desserts that get cut up and shared at the Thanksgiving table. “Familiar” means choosing from the traditional autumn flavors that we never tire of; starting with pumpkin, and including apple, pear, cranberry, pecan, and walnut. There are always chocolate lovers at any gathering, so something chocolate is an option too.

In order to be “memorable”, a dessert must be so delicious that it will be talked about and remembered from year to year. This is the role that a great pumpkin pie can fill. It is not only the ritual of eating pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving that we remember, but also the ritual of talking about eating the pumpkin pie and all of the pumpkin pies that we have eaten in the past; where we had the best pumpkin pie we’ve ever eaten, who made it, and when it was. Maintaining this timeless ritual is why pumpkin pie is a must.



Whole Pumpkin Pie

Whole Pumpkin Pie


In your Thanksgiving dessert article by Alison Roman, the “Salted-Butter Apple Galette with Maple Whipped Cream” and the “Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Tart” both have delicious descriptions, the photographs look good enough to eat, and the recipes sound like things I would like to make; but only after I’ve made my pumpkin pie. Please don’t ban the pumpkin pie!

-Shirl Gard

Lenox, MA



When it comes to what makes a memorable pumpkin pie, I found that I agreed with almost everything in this bon appetit article, especially when they say “Stick to a trusty recipe”.

Here is my “trusty recipe” for pumpkin pie, which was on the Thanksgiving dessert menu every year that I was a pastry chef, and has received many accolades from guests. I hope you enjoy it too.




Creamy Pumpkin Pie
YIELD: One 9" Pie

  • ONE 9" PIE - 2# 6 OZ FILLING

  • 1 9-inch blind-baked pie crust, hot out of the oven

  • 450 grams Libby's solid-pack pumpkin - One 15 oz can + a little more
  • 150 grams whole eggs (3 large)
  • 20 grams egg yolk (1 large)

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 200 grams sugar (1 cup)

  • 180 grams half & half cream (3/4 cup)
  • 60 grams evaporated milk (1/4 cup)
  • 60 grams heavy cream (1/4 cup)

  • 1120 grams = Total 39 oz (2# 7 oz)

  1. FOR THE PIE CRUST: Use a 9-inch aluminum pie pan or Pyrex glass pie plate, placed on a quarter sheet pan lined with parchment. Make the fluted edge of the pastry ½" high on rim of the plate. Blind-bake according to directions on pie crust recipe.
  2. HAVE THE CRUST HOT WHEN READY TO FILL AND BAKE PIE. If the crust was made ahead of time, re-heat just until hot when ready to fill.
  3. TO MIX FILLING BY HAND:Stir pumpkin into the beaten eggs and yolks. Mix salt and spices with the sugar in a separate bowl and whisk well to blend. Whisk into the pumpkin/egg mixture. Add the half & half and evaporated milk; mix well. Gently swirl in the heavy cream until completely incorporated.
  4. TO MIX FILLING IN A BLENDER: Add ingredients to the jar in this order: 1) Evaporated milk & creams 2) Eggs & yolk 3) Sugar (mixed with salt & spices) 4) Pumpkin. PULSE ON LOW SPEED #1 UNTIL WELL MIXED, ABOUT 1 MINUTE. Low speed will prevent incorporating too much air.
  5. IMPORTANT STEPS TO CUT DOWN ON BAKING TIME: Warm the filling in a large bowl over simmering water to 130º F (ie. just warm to the touch). Pour warm filling into the hot pie shell.
  6. TO BAKE: Bake in a 300°F oven just until pie is set in the center, 1 HR - 1 HR 15 M. After 30 M of baking, rotate the pan for even baking.
  7. BAKE PIE THE DAY BEFORE YOU PLAN TO SERVE: A cold pie is much easier to cut into clean wedges.