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The only pumpkin pie recipe you’ll need this Thanksgiving

Caja Caliente’s Mika Leon shares her signature holiday dessert recipe.

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil

Some people think turkey is the star of Thanksgiving dinner, but really it’s the pie that hogs the holiday spotlight. Diets be damned when a fresh-baked pumpkin dessert reaches the dinner table. And no Thanksgiving spread would be complete without one. There are options for securing one, too. You can get a store-bought pie or order one prepared by one of Miami’s top chefs, but there’s always the third option: baking one yourself.

Before you roll your eyes at the last option or cue up UberEats for number two, consider Mika Leon’s easy-peasy recipe for a home-baked pumpkin pie. The chef behind Caja Caliente and contestant on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay recently launched her website and it’s filled with approachable dishes for the home chef—you. The recipe, which we’ve noted below, is split in two, one for the filling and one for the pie crust, and includes detailed instructions on how to make the perfect pumpkin pie from scratch.

Staying home alone this Thanksgiving? Not only does the pie crust freeze wonderfully (the recipe yields two) but the finished product makes for a stellar breakfast the next day. In other words, more dessert for you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup sifted sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cups of butternut squash peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (no seeds)
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 1¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s how to make it:

1. In a small bowl mix together your sugar and spices until its all well combined.
2. In a medium-size saucepan, add your butternut squash, evaporated milk and heavy cream. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it starts bubbling bring it down to a low-medium heat and let it simmer for about 20 minute until the squash has softened and is fork-tender. Make sure to continually stir with a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom. It’s very important you do this to make sure it doesn’t burn.
3. Once your squash is fork-tender, add your sugar-and-spice mix to the pan and stir while cooking for 2 minutes.
4. Take the pan off the burner and let it cool for a few minutes then add it to a blender and blend for a few minutes until it’s nice and smooth. Let the mixture cool completely.
5. Now that the mix in your blender is cooled, add vanilla extract, eggs and egg yolks to it and blend again. (We make sure it cools so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs).
6. Place your par-baked pie crust (follow the pie-crust recipe below) on a baking sheet and pour in your filling. Make sure you get every last drop of that deliciousness using a spatula.
7. Bake for 10 minute at 400F degrees, uncovered. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350F and tent your pie with aluminum foil making sure it doesn’t touch the top of the pie) and bake for another 40 minutes. You’ll notice the center of the pie will puff up. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for at least 45 minutes. Top with whipped cream.

For the pie crust

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cup Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 5 tbsp ice-cold water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar

Makes two pie crusts

Here’s how to make it:

1. Place your flour and vegetable shortening into a large mixing bowl and work your shortening into your flour using a dough blender as pictured below. Keep incorporating it in for about 3–4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal.
2. Now to this add your beaten egg, ice-cold water, salt and vinegar. Slowly mix this together with a wooden spoon until it all comes together.
3. Separate this dough into two evenly sized balls. If you’re not using both pie crusts immediately, freeze half for later.
4. Let’s roll out our dough: Place your dough on a lightly floured surface and flour the top of the dough as well. Start to flatten it with your rolling pin making sure it’s floured at all times to avoid it sticking to your table or your rolling pin. Roll from the center to the sides into a round shape. If the sides start to crack or deform, use your hands to form it into a circle again and keep rolling.
5. Once your dough is rolled out. Gently lift it from the table using the help of a dough cutter or metal spatula. Place it in the center of your pie pan and gently press the dough into the pan from the center to the sides making sure it’s evenly distributed in the pan as pictured below.
6. I like to poke holes along the sides and center of the pie with a fork before par-baking. 
7. Par-bake your crust! This is basically baking your crust for 15 minutes before adding your filling to get it nice and toasty and have it take form. I like to add a piece of parchment paper to the pie crust and add whatever beans I have laying around at home (pictured below) No need to buy fancy pie weights. Now add this to your oven at 350F and cook in the center rack for 15 minutes.

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