“Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives!”
“And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies…”
-The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
What is Pumpkin Pie?
Pumpkin pie is a sweet baked dish, made of a pie shell that lines only the bottom and sides. Filled with pumpkin, sugar, cream, eggs and pumpkin pie spice (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice), the filling becomes custard-like when baked.
what is the history of pumpkin pie?
Pumpkin pie can be traced easily to the 1600s when it was spelt ‘pompion’.
Pumpkin is a type of squash and is native to North America. As early as the 1500s, pumpkins were exported back to England, where we find them recorded in old cookbooks. With such a long history across multiple continents, it’s not surprising to find several variations as the dish evolved over each century.
By the time we come to the 1800s when Washington Irving wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in America, it’s possible you would still find a version of ‘pumpkin pie’ where a pumpkin was stuffed with apples, spices and sugar, then baked whole.
However, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796 gives a recipe for Pompkin Pudding which we know as the pumpkin pie we see today.
Excerpt from American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (1796)
No. 1. One quart stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross and chequer it, and baked in dishes three quarters of an hour.
No. 2. One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.