Holiday traditions always seemed so fixed and immutable, but as Brian and I have built our own life and pieced together ways of celebrating from our own families while adding elements of our own, I’ve watched our daughters come to see these new holiday traditions as the timeless, ancient rites, even as I’ve had my eyes opened to how alive and changing they are. It’s a delight to watch the kids form their own holiday memories and nostalgia with familiar foods, flavors, and smells.
Brian and I began hosting our own Thanksgiving pretty early on, and have been tinkering with traditions ever since. We always get a heritage breed turkey, we make traditional cranberry sauce (for Brian) and super tangy cranberry relish (for me), and always, always there’s pumpkin pie. I love selecting a sugar pumpkin, or kabocha or butternut squash, roasting it, and then making my pumpkins pies. They are the first thing I do Thanksgiving morning, so we can get them out of the oven in time for the turkey. And I love my them–they’re rich, flavorful, but also light and not too sweet.
But, my pumpkin pie soul has been restless of late. I’ve been thinking of buttermilk, and wondering–can my classic pumpkin pie be improved?
Enter this silky, bright, and tangy buttermilk pumpkin pie. The filling is light and velvety, with subtle notes of fresh pumpkin (and, ahem, rustic flecks of vivid orange pumpkin or squash skin). Is this my new Thanksgiving dessert? We’ll see–we might all be too attached to the old one. But it certainly is a delicious seasonal dessert, and a lighter, brighter option for those who find pumpkin pie too rich or heavy after a big meal.
Buttermilk Pumpkin Pie (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a shallow pie pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 14″ circle. Fold into quarters, and unfold in the prepared pie pan. Poke all over with the tines of a fork. Line shell with tin foil, and add pie weights, beans, or rice to hold it down. Bake for 12 minutes, remove weights and foil, and bake for 10 minutes more, or until the crust is set and hasn’t browned in the least. Remove from oven and set aside while you make the filling.
for the filling
1 1/4 cup pumpkin or squash puree
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the puree, butter, lemon juice, ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sea salt. Beat with a whisk until well-combined and fluffy.
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sugar, whisk together for a minute or so, and set aside.
Pour the egg yolk mixture into the puree mixture, and beat with a whisk until smooth and light. Slowly fold in the flour, and then the buttermilk.
Meanwhile, with clean, dry beaters, whisk the reserved egg whites to soft peaks, and fold into the filling.
Spoon filling into the prepared shell, and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. I look for the very center to be set, so that it is not jiggling, but isn’t yet solid.
Cool for 2 – 3 hours, slice, and serve.