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Saturday, 3 November 2007

baking a pumpkin (WHB#107 – pumpkin)

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Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB #107) – Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo)

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pie pumpkin For this year’s Hallowe’en, we bought one regular jackolantern pumpkin and one pie pumpkin. Other years, we have left the pumpkins on the porch overnight for the squirrels to discover before we take them directly to the composter. But there was no way we wanted squirrels to get any of our pie pumpkin so we brought it indoors. This is how it looked on 1 November, just before I cut it in half to bake it. (The larger pumpkin was broken up and is already languishing in the composter.)

pie pumpkin Of course, all Jack-o-lanterns can be baked. But it’s really only worthwhile to bake “pie” pumpkins. The larger pumpkins that are grown specifically for Hallowe’en have been crossbred to be large, watery, easy to clean and seed, and easy to carve. They taste bland and dull. “Pie” pumpkins are considerably more difficult to clean and carve but are best for eating.

I know lots of people boil pumpkin but we prefer to bake it. There’s much less chance of the pumpkin to get watery. And to make sure that they aren’t thready, I use the back of a spoon to push the pumpkin through a sieve. (Of course a food mill works perfectly for this too – but we don’t have one…. You can also use a food processor but you risk leaving thready parts in the pumpkin.)

pie pumpkin The sieve method is the way that Mom taught me. In the days before the hybridization of pumpkins, Mom always baked our Hallowe’en pumpkins. Or at least that’s what I remember. And I remember that sinking feeling, looking at the HUGE bowl of cooked pumpkin that had to be pushed through the sieve. “It’s easier to push a camel through the eye of a needle than…” :lalala:

As I was scraping and scraping… and scraping… and scraping…, I thought about how much better the pumpkin would be than if I had resorted to using the food processor. And so I played “The Glad Game”.

I’m GLAD I’m standing here stirring cooked pumpkin around in a sieve wondering if it will ever move down into the bowl.

I’m GLAD the sun is shining through the stained glass.

I’m GLAD I read “Pollyanna” so I know how to play “The Glad Game”.

I’m GLAD I… etc. etc. ad nauseum

Luckily, T wandered into the kitchen to start making dinner and distract me from the terrors of finishing “The Glad Game” and in no time at all (*cough*) almost all the pumpkin was in the bowl and only a few threads and bits of skin were in the sieve.

Was it all worth it? You bet!! The pumpkin is beautifully soft and silky. And the flavour is already sweet and rich, even though there has not been anything added to it yet. We now have two cups of fabulous pumpkin just waiting to be used.

Sure, I could make a pie. But that isn’t why I went to all this trouble Just look at the picture of that cake in SAVEUR Magazine’s November 2007 issue that is dedicated to American Thanksgiving. We nneeeeeeeed to try that cake!

Baked Pumpkin

  • pie pumpkin (or any winter squash)


  1. Wash the outside of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin in half and remove any seeds and threads. Place the pumpkin halves shell side up on a cookie sheet and bake at 325F until the flesh inside the pumpkin can be pierced easily with a fork. The skin will be quite dark and if the pumpkin was carved for Hallowe’en, the features of the jackolantern will look even more sinister as they will have collapsed and shrivelled somewhat. (The small pumpkin that was about 8 inches across, took about an hour.)
  2. When the pumpkin flesh is fork-tender, let the pumpkin cool, then scrape the flesh out. Use the back of a spoon to push it through a sieve (or use a food mill) to get rid of any thready fibers.

pie pumpkin

Last night we had Squash and Sage Lasagne again – but this time made with butternut squash and NO ham.

It. Was. Spectacular.

Butternut squash is fabulous. But this pie pumpkin is also a really good one. Happily, the pumpkin roll cake only calls for 2/3 cup of pumpkin. I think we’ll use the rest for lasagne.


Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #107
Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Even though I have not used any herbs in the pumpkin preparation, (except for the sage in last night’s lasagne) this is my post for Kalyn’s (Kalyn’s Kitchen) wonderful weekly event, WHB.

Please read about pumpkin:

For more details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:



  • Kalyn

    Wonderful post on how to bake a pumpkin as well as the differences between types of pumpkins. For some reason I just started noticing pie pumpkins in my market the last year or so. Pumpkin cake sounds good, and I must look for that magazine. However, being more of a savory person, please save me some of the lasagna!

  • ejm

    I’m with you Kalyn and prefer savoury to sweet as well. But the pumpkin cake looked really fun.

    I see that I forgot to post a link to SAVEUR in the post. Here it is:

  • MrsBrown

    I’ve seen the little pumpkins called pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins or sugar plum pumpkins. I like to use them to make squash soup. The soup is velvety smooth and even richer than when I use different squashes.

    Lovely carving of your little pumpkin. I particularly like the nose.

    Did you make the cake?

  • Katie

    I just butchered one of my pumpkins from the garden… I didn’t have the patience to push it through a sieve…
    I bake it for a couple of hours, then strain it for a couple more, bag it and freeze it. My one pumpkin gave me 35 cups for the freezer. Totally different bread – fat, squat, ugly and not at all a candidate for a jack-o-lantern!

  • ejm

    35 CUPS!! Wow, that must be a big pumpkin, Katie! When you say that you strain the pumpkin for a couple of hours, what exactly do you do?

    Thank you, MrsBrown, I was rather proud of the pie pumpkin carving. Initially, I was planning on using pieces of pumpkin for the whiskers but then decided it would be MUCH easier to use spaghettini.

    I was thinking that the pie pumpkin would be good for soup. But we will probably be using it up in lasagne. We LOVE squash, sage, walnut lasagne!

    And yes, I made the cake today. It is cooling in the fridge now. I’ll be sure to post about it after we’ve tasted it.

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    After a disastrous pumpkin baking incident in my mom’s kitchen years ago, she swore she’d never do it again. I never have either. But after reading yours and several other blogs that have done it successfully, I’ll have to give it a try next year. I didn’t even buy one this Halloween. :(

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    That was supposed to be a frowning face, but I’m not sure what that symbol is!

  • ejm

    It’s supposed to be a trophy with a line through it, Susan. (I don’t know why but I have a horror of those sideways smileys) I have a perverse urge to learn about your mom’s disastrous pumpkin baking incident and am headed over to your blog to see if it’s there.


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