The First Pumpkin Pie (sort of) Recipe | PBS Food

The First Pumpkin Pie (sort of)

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  • 1 medium pie pumpkin (about 5-7 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 apples or pears, cut into rough 1 inch cubes
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg plus more for topping
  • 3 pieces star anise
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Zest of a small orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounce evaporated milk


  1. Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the top off the pumpkin and hollow it out, removing the seeds and stringy insides. Stir together the salt and ¼ cup brown sugar. Rub that mixture all along the cavity of the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin on baking sheet and roast it in the oven for 2 hours.
  2. While the pumpkin bakes, whisk together the remaining ingredients. I like to keep the cinnamon stick, star anise and orange zest whole. It’s fun to find them in the finished custard and I like the way they perfume the pie when left whole.
  3. Bring the pumpkin out of the oven and pour the uncooked custard inside its cavity. Lower the heat to 350 and bake another hour. The custard should be set and the top should be brown. Let the pie cool for 30 minutes before serving in slices.