CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry came from Sarah Spiller, a Seattle University Student and dorm baking expert. Sarah was disappointed with the end result as the pie was soft when served-- but when put into cups for individual servings, it was very delicious, and nobody complained one bit.
Here's her story:
My Grandma Brennan was a no frills baker. An amazing baker, but a no frills baker. Snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, molasses, and gingersnap cookies were right up her alley. Classic birthday cakes and summer fruit pies were always top notch. She was a master at canning, piecrusts, and putting hot, wholesome meals on the table. Dessert was always present, even when it was just a dish of Tillamook ice cream (Brown Cow was her favorite, and mine too). I picked up a lot of things from my grandma, namely my love for green beans that have been cooked into soft submission, probably a result of many days spent with my grandma as an infant.
I also seemed to inherit her love for baking and even greater love for pumpkin pie. Never ever a picky kid, I picked up on the greatness of pumpkin pie at a very early age. Around kindergarten, when the buildup before Thanksgiving was big – full of hand turkey crafts and talking about being thankful – all I could think about was pumpkin pie. I WAS OBSESSED. When the day finally came, all I could do was wait – wait those torturous hours before I would receive my beautiful, luscious, perfectly spiced piece of creamy pie.
When it FINALLY came time to slice the pie, my grandma sliced and handed to me what may have been the BIGGEST piece of pie I had ever seen in my six years of life. My eyes lit up with excitement, thrill, and disbelief that this huge amazing piece could possibly be for me! But I didn’t dare say a word and quietly started back to my seat at the kids’ table. Suddenly, my grandma looked up and realized what a large piece she had given me by accident and said, “Oh that’s far too big for Sarah,” and took it back. My eager grin turned to sheer disappointment in the blink of an eye. My parents were watching the whole thing and trying very hard not to burst out laughing. Grandma cut my piece in half and gave it back, still a fairly large portion for a little girl. It was delicious in all ways possible, of course, but I was still hankering for more.
That other half slice haunted me the rest of the evening. Being a very observant mother, my mom picked up on this and offered me a solution = pie for breakfast, possibly some of the greatest words to come out of her mouth. I was unsure if my mom would follow through, but the next morning when I asked for pie for breakfast, I was greeted with a beautiful piece of pie, even better the next day. This blossomed into a family tradition that I am always happy to participate in each year.
Things haven’t really changed at all. I’m still obsessed with pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving, waiting for weeks in anticipation for the big meal. This being my first year away from home, I made several phone calls to my mom before my trip home, making sure EVERYTHING would be exactly the same. I told her all menu changes must go through me – the president of the Thanksgiving Board of Trustees. While my grandma now has Alzheimer’s and no longer bakes the pies, she can still remember this story and chuckles at it every year – jokingly reaching for my plate. Now the baking responsibilities are in my hands – but so is the serving knife, guaranteeing a very big slice for me, both after dinner and for breakfast.
Here's the recipe:
Recipe for Pumpkin Pie (Adapted from Joy the Baker)
- 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers or crisp ginger snap cookies
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- In a medium bowl, combine crushed graham crackers or ginger snaps with sugar, salt and melted butter. Toss together to coat the entire mixture in butter. Press into a 9-inch baking dish, a tart pan with a removable bottom or 8 individual ramekins. I like making these no bake desserts in a tart pan or in individual ramekins so I don’t have to fuss with fighting to remove the sliced pie from the pie pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling.
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 2 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- Beat cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Both fats should be well softened to ensure the filling is lump free. Add the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, molasses, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree and beat until thoroughly combined. If you find that your filling is lumpy, pass it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. I did that. No shame in that game.
- Spoon the filling into the cooled pie or tart shell, or divide into individual ramekins. Let pie chill in the fridge overnight. This is actually important… the pie won’t be settled enough in 2 hours. Overnight is best.
- Cool Whip
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Beat together cool whip and maple syrup until cream is in soft peaks. Spread over the chilled pie. Slice and serve.