Pumpkin Pie! In my house, it’s a tradition to eat pumpkin pie during the Feast of the Winter Star. The season just isn’t complete without that wonderful flavor you can only achieve with the finest farm-fresh pumpkins. A little nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove will sweep you off to a land of crimson and gold...—Queen of Sauce, 21 Winter, Year 1
Marnie the rancher LOVES pumpkin pie in Stardew Valley. It’s a favorite treat of hers, and after trying this recipe I can absolutely see why—with a sweet and spicy pumpkin custard surrounded by flaky pie dough, it’s hard to resist even in the real world. In the game the recipe comes from the Queen of Sauce, host of the popular cooking show of the same name. Pumpkin pie is also a popular gift to receive at the Feast of the Winter Star, a Christmas-esque festival held in Stardew Valley at the end of winter.
For our upcoming real world festivities, I tried to keep this pie as easy to make as possible while still delivering on flavor. There’s no pre-baking the pie crust or cooking the filling over the stove, but there are a lot of spices in this recipe. If you prefer a less intense flavor, I recommend cutting the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves by half. Alternatively, just add 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to taste.
Here are some hints to help keep you calm while making your seasonal pumpkin pie.
What to know about pie dough
To start, if you don’t have the time or confidence to make your own pie dough, just go ahead and use store bought. Your pumpkin pie will still be delicious. If you do decide to make your own pie dough, hooray! This dough is pretty similar to the one used for my Stardew Valley blueberry tart and rhubarb pie. For this recipe I decided to add apple cider vinegar; supposedly it makes the dough more flexible and easier to roll. I found conflicting information on this, so you can leave the vinegar out if you don’t have it or are afraid it will affect the flavor.
When the time comes to roll out the pie dough, make sure you’re starting with room temperature dough.
I’m serious. Be patient and let it warm up a little.
It’s the best way to keep your dough from cracking at the edges as you roll it (provided your dough isn’t too dry). As you continue, remember to rotate the direction you roll the dough to keep a semi-consistent round shape.
When you’re ready to put it in the mold, roll some of the dough back onto your rolling pin and then gently drape it over your pie dish.
How do I prevent cracks in my pumpkin pie?
There are a few things that can help prevent pie cracks, and some work better than others.
Adding cornstarch, all-purpose flour, or tapioca flour all supposedly help give the custard filling more structure and reduce the risk of cracks.
The more important factors I discovered in my research, however, are twofold.
One, don’t overcook the filling. Make sure you stop baking it when the edges are set and the center still has some wobble or jiggle. This also keeps the texture silky smooth.
Two, be careful of cooling it too quickly! If you can, turn the oven off and let it sit for a while in the oven with the door slightly ajar, as one would a cheesecake.
My pumpkin pie still cracked! What do I do?!
Well, panic a little, to get it out of your system.
Then take a deep breath.
If your pie cracks, it’s okay! My own pie began to crack shortly after I started taking photographs. It happens. As life and Stardew Valley teach us, sometimes setbacks occur, but they aren’t insurmountable.
You can always decorate the pie top to cover the cracks. If you had extra dough and an overachiever mindset, beautiful cookie cutter shapes are perfect for covering any wayward openings. Whipped cream, toasted meringue, or toasted marshmallow fluff also make excellent toppings for hiding any defects. (Consider adding some sweetener and extract or liqueur to homemade whipped cream.)
And honestly? People probably won’t remember how your pie looked. What they will remember is how the pie tasted.
How do you make your pumpkin pie, or do you have a different holiday favorite? Comment below and if you’d like to see more content consider joining my Patreon!
Makes 1 pie 9-inch pie; serves 8
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon white granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons cold water as necessary
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
1 15 ounce can plain pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
3 large eggs
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
- For the crust: combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Finely chop the cold butter and add it to the dry mix. Pulse until a coarse crumb mixture forms.
- Mix the egg yolk and apple cider vinegar, if using, with 1 tablespoon of ice cold water. Pour it into the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together in small clumps, adding more water to moisten as necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Bring the dough to room temperature. Lightly flour your surface and roll the dough out to an 11-12 inch round roughly ¼ inch thick. Place the round into a 9 inch pie plate, tucking the dough into the edges on the inside of the pie plate first. Fold overhanging dough under itself and crimp edges as desired, trimming extra dough if necessary. Put in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
- For the filling: in a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, eggs, light brown sugar, cornstarch, spices, and salt. Whisk until a smooth paste forms and then set aside.
- To assemble: preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Remove prepared pie crust from the refrigerator and pour the filling into the crust.
- Brush the leftover egg white onto the edges of the crust. Bake the pie on the bottom rack in the oven for 45-50 minutes until crust is browned and filling is just set 2 inches from the crust but still jiggly in the center (about 165-170° Fahrenheit if you test the filling’s temperature with a digital thermometer). If necessary, cover the crust edges with foil to prevent burning.
- Cool for at least 1 hour, preferably in the off oven with the door slightly ajar, or up to 4 hours and then refrigerate overnight until completely set. Serve cold or at room temperature with toppings of choice, like whipped cream or ice cream.