Ultimate Holiday Pie

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  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons cold vodka (see recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 24 ounces of roasted pumpkin or other squash – see note
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon table salt


The vodka is essential for texture. Do not substitute. Place in freezer 1-2 hours before making dough. Near frozen butter and shortening will help. Place in freezer 30 minutes before.

For the pumpkin purée, you are NOT limited to pumpkin. I recommend a 2 to 1 ratio of squash to sweet potatoes. For squash, you can use pumpkin, butternut or any fancy South American squash. For sweet potatoes, you can use traditional yam (orange) or one of the Asian varieties (white inside). Regardless you need to bake at 375 until done. Let cool, remove skins and mash (preferably in a ricer for uniform texture).

You are doing a blind bake. Do not omit the Al foil and the weights. If you do, the dough will rise and transform into a kind of thick cookie.


1. CRUST: Mix flour, salt and sugar until combined. Grate butter and shortening into flour. Using 2 knifes in a scissoring action, cut/mix the fat into smaller pieces until dough resembles cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining. There should be no uncoated flour. I use my hands in the end.

2. Sprinkle vodka and ice-cold water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. If too dry, add more vodka (a little at a time). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate (conventional 8″ or shallow quiche-like 10″), leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

4. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Using a fork, pierce bottom and sides in multiple places. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven. Let cool.

6. FOR THE FILLING: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; check for sweetness; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes at 400. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees or use clean toothpick method), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

Adapted from Chris Kimball’s recipe – NPR