Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Cobbler Is Like Pumpkin Pie, Only 10x Easier

No more soggy bottoms ever again.

August 19, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

I’ve never been a big pumpkin pie person. I like it okay. I definitely eat my once-annual slice around Thanksgiving, but you’ll never find me making it voluntarily unless it’s November. That’s because so many pumpkin pies can be disappointing, largely due to the reason I’ve been harping about on this site since way back in 2014: the soggy bottom crust.

Yup, I’m team Mary Berry all the way, and pretty much blame this one faux-pie (see what I did there?) for every slice of pumpkin I’ve passed on since. When pumpkin pie is good: a crisp, flaky crust encasing a silky-smooth spiced custard, it is nutso-crazy good. But when it’s orange mush sitting on top of a thin layer of uncooked pastry, it’s something else entirely.

Photo by Julia Gartland

One of the things I like about making pumpkin pie is how easy it is, relative to other holiday favorites like apple. The custard is whisked together faster than it takes to grab the ingredients from your cupboard—no peeling, no cutting, no pre-cooking and waiting to cool. But to achieve a pie worth eating, you want that crispy-bottom crust, which means par-baking. I’m a huge advocate of it, but it admittedly adds a whole lot of additional time to the pie-baking process. So I started to wonder what might happen if you turned this fall favorite pie upside-down (literally).

Same custard, same crust—just flip it.

Photo by Julia Gartland
Photo by Julia Gartland

Suddenly, the pie becomes a cobbler, with a flaky, golden-brown crust topping the most popular filling of the season.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Instead of pie crust, you sprinkle a box of yellow cake mix over the pumpkin filling, then top that with brown sugar, chopped nuts, and finish by pouring a stick of melted butter over the whole thing. Using pie crust dough instead of the cake mix sounds delicious. ”
— Lee A.
Comment

This little swap fixes almost every pumpkin pie problem you’ve ever had: No need to bother with par-baking—the crust browns easily because it’s on the surface. Forget fretting over cracked filling, because the custard cooks slowly and evenly inside since it’s covered on top. Skip worrying about the dough warming up while you carefully crimp it; just cut it into random-size pieces and layer them on top (which creates a lovely effect for the same amount of effort that the filling requires).

Don’t have time to wait for it to cool? This cobbler is actually delicious served warm, too. Scared of cutting the perfect slice? This one just needs a big spoon for scooping. Not sure if one pie will feed your whole family? This cobbler’s made for a crowd.

I've finally found an alternative to pumpkin pie that I can use the word “love” for. (It’s even good enough to break me of my "one slice a year" rule.)

But despite its many differences, some things never change: It’s best topped, like all the pumpkin pies of my past, with a hefty dollop of whipped cream.


More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

1. Pumpkin Cream Pie

A gingery graham cracker crust gets filled with pumpkin pastry cream, then topped with sour cream–whipped cream. Because it's supposed to be made and refrigerated in advance, there's no need to worry about it occupying oven space on Thanksgiving.

2. Salted Pumpkin Caramels

For when you're looking for a little something sweet, not a gigundo dessert. (Though if you end up eating a dozen of these yourself, we've been there!) Chewy, cozy pumpkin caramels are wonderful to begin with, but the toasted pepitas and crunchy salt really set these apart. Psst: They also make a great host gift.

3. Pumpkin Flan

This creamy, custardy, caramely pumpkin flan comes with an ingredient list that's full of pantry staples: pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, spices, vanilla. The only ingredient to come from your fridge is eggs—and you have those already, right?

4. Pumpkin Pudding

Just like pumpkin pie—except, without the pie crust. This stress-free recipe comes from Alice Medrich. She writes, "My family’s Thanksgiving always included pumpkin pudding. I wish I could say that the pudding starts with a freshly baked pumpkin, lovingly mashed and blended with fresh cream, eggs, spices. In reality, it was (and still is!) canned pumpkin purée and evaporated milk, mixed with spices exactly as directed in the recipe on the can of Libby's pumpkin, but baked in a dish instead of a crust."

5. Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

A light, fluffy pumpkin cake that just so happens to be gluten-free. Rice flour creates an especially tender crumb, while cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves give it cozy fall vibes. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature so they whip up properly.

Pumpkin pie, yay or nay? Let us know in the comments below!
Food52’s Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker
View Now
Food52’s Automagic Thanksgiving Menu Maker

Did someone say Thanksgiving? Our Automagic Menu Maker is here to help!

View Now

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Peggy
    Peggy
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
  • Sara Kennedy
    Sara Kennedy
  • Leslye Borden
    Leslye Borden
  • Susan D'Agostino
    Susan D'Agostino
Comment
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.

58 Comments

Peggy November 20, 2019
I plan to bake the custard and pie crust separately and then top the custard with the crust after baking. I will let you know how it works. AlsoI have leaf cutters and plan to cut the crust with these for a festive touch.
 
Jennifer November 3, 2019
Can you reccomend a brand of canned pumpkin for this recipe? I'd prefer to use organic canned pumpkin but some of the organic brands that I've tried have a metallic taste and are somewhat bland. Thanks!
 
Sara K. October 17, 2019
For those who have trouble with a disappointing crust for a traditional pie, try putting a pizza stone in the oven when you preheat, make sure to wait at least 10 minutes after it’s come up to temp (this makes sure the oven temp is the same throughout the oven and minimizes the dip in temp when you open the door), and then bake your pie on top of the stone. Having the heat radiating directly under the bottom crust has always worked for me - less shrinkage than blind baking.
 
Leslye B. October 12, 2019
I make my own pumpkin too but I get rid of the excess water by lining a colander with cheesecloth, placing the pureed pumpkin in the cheesecloth lined colander, covering with a plate, and putting 5 pound weights on top of the place. Of course, I put the collander into a bowl to collect the liquid. I put the whole thing into the refrigerator and let it drain at least overnight. I toss the liquid and can the pumpkin in one pint containers (my freezers are always too full for freezing). They're easy to use whenever I need them.

As for this recipe, I want to try it but I am concerned about so many comments that the crust sank into the custard. Yes, I can lessen the cream. Hope that works. I want to try this with apples. I find a soggy bottom crust a much bigger problem with apples. I've taken to cooking the apples before putting them into the pie for baking. Other suggestions?
 
Susan D. October 12, 2019
I try to make everything from scratch, so my Pumpkin Pie -- or any pumpkin dessert -- is no different, right down to the pumpkin puree!

My pumpkin puree method takes a bit of time but, the beautiful thing about it is that you don't have to stay by the stove & watch it constantly! Once the initial cooking is done, the pureeing kind of does itself, with very little effort! And the 2nd beautiful thing about it is that it practically guarantees that it will bake in pie -- or any other -- form without a soggy crust, excess water/moisture, or any of the other issues I've read about here that cause people not to like -- or even love -- Pumpkin Pie!

I've tried countless ways of cooking & pureeing fresh pumpkin, and in the end, this is my go-to method now, every time!

First, turn the pumpkin on its side and carefully slice off the stem as close to the top as possible.

Cut the rest of the pumpkin into smaller pieces that will be easy to work with (Think Butternut Squash.). Use a pumpkin scraper (from a pumpkin decorating kit; you can get a cheap one at the Dollar Tree!) to scrape off the seeds & strings. No need to fret every last string!

Boil the pumpkin pieces in a large pot until fork-tender. Remove the cooked pumpkin pieces to a pasta strainer and leave to cool & drain.

Once boiled and cooled, the pumpkin skin and any remaining strings will come off easily. I usually use a spoon to scrape the pumpkin from the skin.

Put all of the cooked pumpkin pieces in a non-stick pan and just let it cook down on very low heat, stirring once in a while.

The low, slow simmer process coupled with occasional stirring will turn it into puree, while cooking all of the water/moisture off at the same time!

Once all of the water is cooked out of the pumpkin it's ready to use or you can freeze it to use later!

I buy 2-3 pie pumpkins in the Fall, cook them all down at the same time, and freeze it for year-round use in 1-2 cup containers so that it's pre-measured. I like to use the plastic Ziploc containers with screw-on lids and I put a piece of plastic wrap over the container before screwing the lid on to help keep it fresh.

When I'm ready to use the pumpkin, I defrost it in a small non-stick pan on low heat and that removes any water/moisture that's accumulated from freezing. You can do this step a day in advance of using it and then put it in the fridge overnight. If anymore water/moisture accumulates, you can usually just pour it off when ready to use.

Cooking all of the moisture out of the pumpkin like this has solved all of my problems with soggy pie crust and mushy filling! It's also a great way to use fresh pumpkin in soup or other dishes and adds some great nutrients to your family's meals -- often without them ever knowing that they're eating pumpkin!

Give it a try!
 
Leslye B. October 11, 2019
Love this idea. I'd like to make apple pie this way. Any reason not to?
 
Risottogirl November 25, 2018
Huge success. I used the whole wheat pastry recipe from Bob's Red Mill. My pieces did not sink but when the custard was done the pastry wasn't quite crisp and brown. I ran it under the broiler for two minutes...perfection. Now I like pumpkin "pie"...
 
nancy S. November 24, 2018
Here's a pumpkin pie where the puree is 'carmelized' ahead - I think the rest of the filling could be mixed in the sauce pan with a stick blender... maybe milk and cream before the final eggs (so they don't get cooked before getting in the oven! : ). Then continue with pastry on top, etc. Might not sink, and not much of an extra step... got to mix the filling anyway.
https://food52.com/recipes/15143-meta-given-s-pumpkin-pie
 
catherine November 23, 2018
I made this for thanksgiving, expecting the best. However, the custard base was so liquidy that the crust pieces sank when placed on top. Since the crust was largely submerged, there was no golden brown top. It was a big brown mess. Very unattractive. Tasty regardless, but very unappealing looking. I would love to know if others faced this same issue.
 
Traveler November 23, 2018
In a very big way! Good but major failure in presentation.
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
I’m so sorry you had trouble! Some of these comments inspired me to do a few more tests and I did find that the crust would sink if it was rolled to thick/piled up to thickly. You could definitely l reduce the amount of cream in the custard to make it a bit thicker next time, if you prefer!
 
Jeany P. November 23, 2018
I made this for thanksgiving and it was a tasty disaster. The filling was so liquid the crust just sunk. Fished them out and went with a smaller pan. I rolled the crust to the 1/4 inch in the recipe but it came out very thick. Maybe due to the smaller pan size? There’s no way the unbaked custard would support the dough. 😦 it did taste good but not super pretty.
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
I’m so sorry you had trouble! Some of these comments inspired me to do a few more tests and I did find that the crust would sink if it was rolled to thick/piled up to thickly. If you’re certain you rolled your dough to 1/4 inch thick, it’s likely that where they overlapped was weighing them down a bit. You can always reduce the amount of cream in the custard to make it a bit thicker.
 
Traveler November 23, 2018
Love the concept of this and (kind of) tried it for Thanksgiving dinner. It tasted good, but looked terrible. I used my own recipes for pumpkin pie filling and the crust. My fault. The pie crust pieces sunk into the filling. I see now why you formulated your filling to be a little thicker. I may try it again and not use as much liquid.
 
Sandy T. November 23, 2018
Pinterest is not working.
 
Johna November 19, 2018
What do you put on top to make the crust golden?
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
egg wash + turbinado sugar - you can see it at the end of the step where you place the pie crust pieces! It really helps make it golden!
 
Angela T. November 18, 2018
Hello Erin - this looks amazing. I just tried it today and cut all the ingredients exactly in half.

But my puree came out very liquidy, looking nothing like the photos here. Is anything missing from this recipe?

Appreciate your help!
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 25, 2018
Nothing is left out, I promise - and this custard is on the thinner side! If it was difficult to work with after cutting in half, you can definitely reduce the cream a bit next time!
 
Arlene November 18, 2018
I want this recipe dairy free and gluten free. Anyway you can make this happen?
 
Dennise November 18, 2018
You should be able to use coconut cream and a coconut flour or amond flour crust
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
I'm afraid this isn't my area of expertise, but it's a very adaptable recipe - if you are able to make a few substitutions, please share, as I'm sure others would love to know your secrets! Thanks!
 
nancy S. November 18, 2018
Bravo!! You've nailed my eternal complaints about pumpkin pie... and become it's saviour (in my 72 yr old mind :). Big thank you! I've used the recipe on the pumpkin puree can forever, only adding some molasses. I can do that again, or try your vanilla, heavy cream, etc. (Glad to see you put allspice in, too :) Thanks again... (actually this could be 'pumpkin tatin'... and used to make apple, other fruit cobbler-pandowdy-tatins. (Can you tell I've always resented the work, wheat, etc put into that soggy bottom ? )
 
Lesley S. November 17, 2018
You mention your favourite pie dough for recipe. When I go to where you tell us there are so many pie crust recipes. Could you be more specific as to which one you are suggesting. Thank you.
 
Lesley S. November 18, 2018
I found it just had to read your link properly. Will make this very soon. It does sound so good.
 
Nicola November 19, 2018
Lesley, you figured it out, and so did I. Now let's help the next people who wonder: when you highlight then click the link, it'll bring you to a recipe search page. That's where you remember to put "All Buttah Pie Dough" in the search box, and you'll find a picture of a piecrust with "coins" 'fluting' the edges....
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
Sorry for the trouble locating it! For others, my recipe is called "All Buttah Pie Dough" and you can find it by typing that name into the search bar here on the site!
 
Lesley S. November 23, 2018
I finally read it properly and then saw All Buttah Pie Dough and realized I was not reading it correctly. Thank you.
 
bunten November 17, 2018
A cobbler is topped with biscuits. This is technically a pumpkin pandowdy!
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
Lots of names for crusty things on top of fruit/veg! I love saying pandowdy, so I love the idea of calling it that! Thanks!
 
Jean T. November 17, 2018
How much pumpkin pie spice would you use if substituting for spices?
 
Nicola November 19, 2018
I hope Erin answers soon. Until then, I'd say go with a heaping Tbsp of pumpkin pie spice. (The jar my boyfriend just bought lists ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg but cloves, not allspice.)
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 19, 2018
I'd start with about 1 tablespoon - you could always sneak a taste before you whisk in the eggs to see if you like the flavor!
 
bpfox November 16, 2018
Would it be possible to use the custard from another pumpkin pie recipe? (I love Marion Cunningham’s and I am loathe to give it up.) Also, if you baked this early Thanksgiving morning, would the crust stay crisp until later that evening?
 
Author Comment
Erin M. November 16, 2018
I totally understand wanting to use your favorite filling recipe! The only trouble you might have is that I formulated this custard to be a bit thicker, so the pie crust can sit on the surface before the custard is set. But I definitely think it’s worth trying! And yes, it will definitely stillbe crisp in the evening after a morning bake!
 
nancy S. November 18, 2018
I might try 'sauteing' the puree, as I've seen elsewhere lately (maybe David Lebovitz.. and another), to accent the flavor, and 'dewater'. I think you'd do it just until it thickens a bit.