Simple and filling the classic pumpkin pie is a symbol of thanks for a good harvest and the blessings which come with plenty of food on the table. Here’s how to make a classic pumpkin pie with a classic pie crust.

After a year spent fighting a virus that came from nowhere and stopped the world in its tracks, the concept of giving thanks for all our blessings is a powerful reminder to treasure the small things in life.

America celebrates giving thanks with a much-loved annual holiday which brings family and friends together to enjoy a traditional feast at a shared table. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, while Canada celebrates on the second Monday in October.

The first true American Thanksgiving in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, in Virginia. It’s just outside of Jamestown, the first permanent English Colony in the New World. Since then, Americans have given thanks across the table, sharing their bounty with friends and family in the wonderful tradition of Thanksgiving.

classic pumpkin pie
classic pumpkin pie book

The first classic pumpkin pie

This year the folk of Virginia decided to share a little of their historic bounty this Thanksgiving with an adapted version of an original pumpkin pie recipe. After all, who doesn’t like a slice of pie!

This pumpkin pie recipe comes from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery cookbook, published in 1796 and the first known cookbook written by an American. It was a revolutionary publication, as it used terms known to Americans and ingredients readily available to American cooks. It was also the first cookbook to include what is now called pumpkin pie.

Why use pumpkin?

The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time which is a time of plenty and of celebration – something for which to be very thankful!

Pumpkin pie is generally eaten during the fall and early winter. In the United States and Canada, it is usually prepared for Thanksgiving and other occasions when pumpkin is in season.

What the locals say

I asked some top Virginia chefs for their favourite pumpkin pie tips and tricks.

  • What type of pumpkin makes the best pie?

Marcus Repp, Director of Culinary Operations at the plush Lansdowne Resort says – We use a local Sugar Pumpkin out of the Shenandoah, we have some great local farms and the Hot Cider that comes with the delivery is just the best. The pumpkin needs to be local. There is just something about your home soil that brings out such a special pumpkin.

Santosh Tiptur, chef at The Conche in Leesburg says to use a Cinderella pumpkin.

  • What accompaniments do you serve with the pie?

Marcus: A nice simple whipped cream or Sauce Anglaise (Thick Vanilla Sauce) a light dusting of cinnamon).

Santosh: Milk chocolate ganache and topped with whipped white chocolate ganache.

  • What other times of the year do you eat pumpkin pie?

Well, we serve it leading up to Thanksgiving and through the holidays as well. It is a very traditional pie for thanksgiving though.

  • Are there any special tricks to ensure a good pie?

Marcus: Don’t Over mix the filling and keep it simple, it’s better to grind your spices fresh instead of using the store-bought. For the crust use a High-fat butter like a French Plugra or Irish Butter. Make sure the butter is cold while bringing the dough together and don’t overwork it.  Bake your Pie at least two days ahead and let it sit to develop the flavours.

Santosh: Roast the pumpkin with maple syrup prior to purée. Bake low and slow to avoid cracks and ensure a shiny surface. 

classic pumpkin pie recipe

Classic pumpkin pie recipe

Make a classic pumpkin pie using this recipe adapted from the original. It makes two pies.  There is a separate recipe below for a classic pie crust that you can use for any pie.


  • 1-pint pumpkin (2 cups)
  • 1-quart milk (946 ml)
  • 4 eggs well beaten
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 pie crusts


  1. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove seeds and bake upside down at 180 for an hour
  2. Peel and mash the pumpkin
  3. Add milk and mix
  4. Add the eggs and molasses
  5. Mix in the ginger and allspice
  6. Pour into a prebaked classic pie crust
  7. Bake in the oven at 160 Celsius for 75 minutes
  8. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!
Pumpkin Milk chocolate pie

Milk Chocolate Pumpkin Pie


200g eggs

40g egg yolks

450g pumpkin puree        

200g heavy (thickened) cream                      

125g milk                                             

120g sugar                                          

90g maple syrup                

150g dark brown sugar   

1tsp salt                               

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract                  

½ tsp cinnamon Powder  

¼ tsp clove powder                           

¼ tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp nutmeg powder      


Warm the Heavy Cream and Milk and keep on the side. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk and combine all the ingredients together and set-aside


Pie Crust


380g all-purpose (plain) flour                                                         

1 tsp salt                                                              

280 g butter                                                        

115 g water (ICE COLD)                   


Cut the butter in small cubes and in a medium-size mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, salt, and butter, mix until crumbly texture and add the ice water slowly and by not over mixing, until the dough comes together.

Refrigerate overnight and roll the dough into the pie moulds, blind bake at 170 Celsius for 20-25 minutes.

Then pour the pumpkin pie mixture and bake in a preheated oven 160 Celsius and bake for 45-50 min

Milk Ganache

250g heavy cream                                            

25g glucose                                                         

360g milk chocolate                                         


  1. Heat the cream and glucose to a boil, pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk vigorously until well combined
classic pumpkin pie recipe

Who doesn’t like a slice of pie! Photo Dilyara Garifullina

Tips for making the perfect classic pumpkin pie

  • For a flaky crust, chill your ingredients (even the flour). Roll out the dough into a disc and then refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb the water, which makes the dough easier to roll out. After you put it in the pie plate, refrigerate it for another 15 minutes.
  • Add extra cinnamon to the pie base.
  • Always blind-bake your pie crust, or the bottom will go soggy.
  • Brush the base with an egg wash before baking.  That gives it a gorgeous golden brown colour.
  • Make sure you are using fresh spices with plenty of flavour.
  • Use a food processor rather than a mixer to blend the filling, as it puts less air in the mix.  Added air will make cracks on the pie top when it escapes.
  • Is your pie ready? Test it by giving it a jiggle.  If the centre is set in place, you know it is good to go.
  • Add a splash of bourbon to the whipped cream accompanying the pie.

Classic Pie Crust

Makes two 20 – 25 cm classic pie crusts


  • 2 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 46 g vegetable shortening (Copha)
  • 90g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • ½ cup ice water


  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.  I like to make my pastry in a food processor using the cutting blade, but you can also make it by hand.
  2. Add the butter and vegetable shortening and pulse until just blended.  Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or two forks to mix the fats in.  You can also rub them in using your fingers.
  3. Add the iced water gradually at a time while pulsing the food processor. Stop adding water when the dough forms into a ball and runs around the side of the bowl.
  4. Put the dough on a floured work surface. Note:  it should not feel sticky on your hands.  If it is, add a little flour.  Knead the dough until the fat is fully incorporated, then divide the ball in half.  Flatten these into three-centimetre-thick rounds using your hands.
  5. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.  You can keep it for up to five days in the fridge or freeze, at this stage for up to three months (defrost in the fridge overnight).
  6. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  7. Using floured hands and a floured rolling pin, gently roll the pastry from the centre outwards.  Turn the dough with your fingers as you go around the disc. Don’t worry if you see flecks of butter and lard, this is normal. Put it in a buttered pie dish and decorate the edge with offcuts so it is thicker.
  8. Chill the crust while the oven is heating to 190 Celsius
  9. To blind-bake the crust, first prick the base with a fork. Line it with baking paper and add weight with rice or beans.  You can also use special pie weights.
  10. For a no-bake pie, cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 20 – 25 minutes. For a partially baked pie, where you bake the filling like pumpkin pie, bake for about 7 to 8 minutes until the crust is just starting to brown.

Disclaimer: The pumpkin filling recipe has been supplied by Virginia Tourism Corporation 

More treats for pie lovers

If you love pies, try making this easy Chunky Steak Pie.  You also must put the Apple Pie at Sutton’s Shed Cafe on the Granite Belt on your list too.