It is Thanksgiving Monday, a day for turkey, pie, and cranberry sauce. I am making the Pumpkin Pie from scratch using Mrs. Nic. Schwartz’ recipe from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
I bought a pie pumpkin and turned it into puree this morning. The recipe says to stew the pumpkin. I simply washed the pumpkin, cut it in half, and scooped out the seeds and stringy bits. Next I steamed it on the stove top. I put the two or three pieces of pumpkin (skin on) into the top of a steamer and cooked for 30 minutes until soft. The skin was easy to remove and the flesh went through a colander to remove any remaining strings and water. I let it cool and then started the pastry. I made a typical pastry but discovered my parents don’t have any pie pans. Instead I made tarts. I rolled the pastry and cut it into circles before placing them in the cupcake tins.
I measured two cups of cooled pumpkin into a bowl and added three eggs and 1 cup of sugar. I was supposed to add four cups of milk but it seemed excessive. I added just two cups of milk since my pumpkin puree was still a bit watery. I added the salt and ginger and mixed well. I was beginning to have serious doubts about the success of this recipe but decided to go ahead and spoon the mixture into the tart shells. I baked the tarts at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes. They were well set and the crust was beginning to brown. I let the tarts cool a bit before sampling.
Elisabeth Fortin married Nicolaus Schwartz in 1858 when she was 17 and he was 21 but I know little else about them. They were both born in this county and Elisabeth’s parents were local too. Nicolaus’ parents were born in Germany. With such a long lineage in Waterloo County it is no wonder that Elisabeth would be comfortable with pumpkin.
Mrs. Swartz’ recipe makes a different sort of pumpkin pie. The colour was yellow rather than orange and it is very mild (bland really). I couldn’t taste the ginger and it had none of the familiar pumpkin pie spices. However, it is certainly edible and was actually a hit with my father. He grew up with squash pie and it resembled that style more than my favourite pumpkin pie. My brother wasn’t fond of the tarts saying they are eggy and he didn’t realize it was pumpkin. He should know. When he was about 12 years old he decided to grow his own pumpkins. Once they were ready he taught himself how to make pumpkin pie. We all liked the custard part so we regularly ended up having his homemade pumpkin custard for dessert. My mother also found the tarts a tasty custard even if it didn’t seem to be pumpkin. I found the texture unpleasant but the flavour was okay … just not for pumpkin pie.
Try this one if you have lots of pie pumpkins around or use commercial canned pumpkin but be prepared for a different tasting pumpkin pie. Commercially canned pumpkin was available at the turn of the twentieth century.
Stew the pumpkin till tender, rub it through a colander. To 1 pint of the pumpkin, add 3 eggs, 1 quart of milk, 1 teacup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ginger, this will make two large pies.