Giving us a sneak peek into her kitchen, KEEN’s Sr. Web Merchandiser Rachel Clouser shares her tips on how to make pumpkin pie from scratch and how her love of this fall dessert was inspired by her grandparents.
Growing up, how did your family celebrate Thanksgiving?
I come from a pretty big family and we always took turns rotating who would host each holiday. Thanksgiving almost always fell to my parents. The day started early with food prep and household chores and culminated with 30-35 people gathered around tables clinking glasses and diving into plates piled high.
Now that you’re older, what’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
As a kid, one of the staples for the big day was homemade pumpkin pie made by my grandparents. I swear we had at least 10 pies each year. There were always leftovers, which made the perfect late-night snack or breakfast for the next morning. Now that I’m older, I have taken on the tradition of making the homemade pie. I always make sure to bake extra so I can snag a slice for breakfast in bed the next morning.
What’s special about this pumpkin pie recipe?
I’ve been making the crust from scratch for years but have always used canned pumpkin pie filling. This is the first time I made my own pumpkin puree from scratch. I was surprised how easy the process was!
To start, choose a pumpkin that is labeled as a “pie pumpkin” or “sugar pumpkin”; these varieties are generally on the small side, between 4-8 pounds. Next, you simply cut the pumpkin in half, rub oil on the outside skin and then bake in the oven for an hour. Once the pumpkin has been removed, cooled and peeled, place in a food processor and puree till smooth.
When did you first start baking?
I started getting excited about baking in high school. A group of friends and I would get together on a regular basis and test out new recipes. We hardly ever did the same recipe twice, and didn’t let fancy names or strange ingredients intimidate us. Sometimes our attempts were incredibly successful and sometimes… well, let’s just say we always had fun.
What do you enjoy most about baking?
I love the creative release that baking provides. Working in e-commerce, my day is filled with screen time. When I head into the kitchen, it’s a chance for me to unplug and focus on creating something from scratch. Another favorite part is sharing what I bake with friends or co-workers. Who doesn’t love a surprise slice of pie on a Monday morning?
Do you have any tips for making the perfect pie crust?
I’m a big believer in all-butter crusts; from what I’ve found, I think they are the most flavorful and also provide a great flaky element to the pie.
I think the crust is also an area where you can flex your creativity muscles. I like to experiment with different shapes and designs. For this pie, I chose to add cutout leaves that were inspired by fall.
Any habits from baking that translate to your job at KEEN?
Absolutely, organization and time management are the first two that come to mind. Both in the kitchen and at the office, I like to keep my work space neat and in order. It helps me find what I need quickly and also think more clearly. For time management, it’s important to understand the full process and be able to prioritize steps that need to happen first and ones that can wait till the end. One of the worst things is getting halfway through a recipe you thought was quick and realizing you overlooked a step that requires something to rest for 2 hours; it’s also never fun to run into unexpected surprises like that on work projects.
For the full recipe, click on through to Rachel’s blog, Whisk and a Smile!