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Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin Pie

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Photograph by Elspeth Young
Unlike most recipes researched for The Storybook Home Journal, we've named this for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, not because we have the slightest proof that either Washington Irving, Brom Bones, or Ichabod Crane ever dined upon it, though "yellow pumpkins" from Baltus Van Tassel's acres suggested to Ichabod's mind " the most luxurious of pies"--but because it's a rich, wholegrain practically-meal-in-itself pumpkin dessert that, like generous Mynheer Van Tassel, is "satisfied with its own wealth, but not proud of it."

It's a little like some Old-time, New World Dutch Dish--a cross between  Katrina Van Tassel's "crisp and crumbling cruller" and a conventional pumpkin pie.  It's capable of pleasing both "Herculean framed" Brom, as well as gourmandizing Ichabod whose mouth watered at the hope of the "sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare."

For a Storybook All Hallows Eve
Winter and Autumnal fare this is, and we enjoy it through both seasons as a great accompaniment to a hearty vegetable soup, or even as a quick, but sustaining breakfast or snack, especially for the "ever-hungry" male contingent of the family.  We rarely top it with cream, except on the most official, traditionally pumpkin pie days of the year like Halloween, Thanksgiving, or some other festival equivalent to Katrina's "quilting frolic"--so we feel a little less guilt-ridden over its repeated appearances at the dinner table than we might under more indulgent circumstances.

Any cook who has traveled beyond classic pumpkin pie will recognize this as deriving from the "pumpkin square" class of recipes, but ours is more robust overall, while remaining lighter on fiery spices (hence the whipped cream being a luxury instead of a necessity).  It's a generously sized recipe as befits pumpkin season, but can be cut in half to make a single pie, if desired--in which case a 15-oz. can of pumpkin puree or 1 3/4 cups would be used.

Of course, any pumpkin recipe is vastly improved by using home-cooked pumpkin puree--particularly some "shattered pumpkin" rescued from the bridge near Wiley's Swamp.  Canned pumpkin works admirably as well, however; and is generally what we use.  

And--at least for us--it's legendary.

Because it's a large, expecting-company kind of recipe, prepare two deep-dish pie or casserole dishes, or one 4-quart casserole with pan-spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin Pie by Nancy Young

Photograph by Elspeth Young
Crust and Topping:
2 cups quick oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unrefined cane sugar, or refined, if preferred
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup hazelnut, olive or canola oil (hazelnut oil provides a wonderfully rich, earthy tone if it's available)
Pinch salt (optional)

Filling:
1 29-oz. can of pumpkin, or 3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 12-oz. cans of evaporated milk
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon ginger
3/4 to 1 tablespoon cinnamon (depending on taste preference)
1 teaspoon vanilla
A fat pinch of salt

Mix together the crust/topping ingredients in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer using the paddle attachment until the mixture holds together when squeezed.  (It takes a moment or two.)  Spread about half of the streusel on the bottom of the prepared dish or casserole, and set aside the rest.  Beat together the filling ingredients until very smooth--I usually let the mixer do this part, too.  Pour the filling over the crust and top with the remaining streusel. The dish will be quite full, so use a steady hand when placing it in the oven to avoid spills.  I've never had a pie overflow, but if anyone feels any Ichabod-like misgivings, place a baking sheet beneath the pan to catch any superabundance. Bake in the preheated oven until pie(s) test clean when pierced with a sharp knife.  This will vary depending upon the baking dish(es).  Start checking at about 35 minutes.  Serves a frolic-full.

Tags: 2011, Holidays, Recipes by Nancy Young

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