James Beard's Rich Pumpkin Pie

October 28, 2015
7 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes Two 9-inch pies
Author Notes

We love a good pumpkin pie with plenty of spice, cream, and Cognac. Serve it like Beard did: “on the warm side, with Cognac-flavored and sweetened whipped cream." Adapted slightly from Epicurious/House & Garden (December 1963). —Food52

What You'll Need
  • Pie dough for two 9" pies
  • 2 cups cooked puréed pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/3 cup Cognac
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  1. Line a 9" pie tin with pie dough and place foil on top. Fill with dry beans and bake in a 400° F oven for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil.
  2. Combine the pumpkin with the sugar, eggs, cream, seasonings, and Cognac and blend well. Pour through a strainer into the pie shell. Sprinkle with chopped candied ginger and bake in a 375° F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pumpkin is set. Serve slightly warm with cheese or whipped cream, or both.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Debbie Milroy
    Debbie Milroy
  • Jodi P.
    Jodi P.
  • Alexandra Margarita
    Alexandra Margarita
  • Ben Imdieke
    Ben Imdieke
  • Susan

26 Reviews

Debbie M. December 13, 2020
I actually have this is James Beard cookbook that features this pumpkin recipe. The recipe does call for six eggs slightly beaten so I don’t think that it’s the fault of food52.com for the mistake if there is a mistake it came from the printers of the cookbook I took a screenshot of it for everybody but I don’t see how I can share that here. Thanks for the heads up I will try this recipe with less eggs.
Ahayson November 21, 2020
Can someone please let me know how many eggs this actually takes! I want to make for Thanksgiving to compare against the generic canned pumpkin ones we have ever year and don't want to mess it up. Thank you!
Jodi P. January 1, 2020
This recipe makes two 9-inch pies. It is a no-fail, favorite pumpkin pie recipe of my family’s. I usually skip the candied ginger. The filling make a custard baked in a glass dish in a water bath.
francesca November 21, 2017
This recipe is for TWO NINE INCH (9) CRUSTS. I have the original, and that is why it is coming out too runny or too much or people are using less eggs. How stupid Food52. Check the originals before posting and wasting people's time.
Madora November 23, 2017
THANK YOU. I’ve made plenty of pumpkin pies in my life and tried these ratios anyways thinking, Food52 and James Beard know what they’re doing.... nope. 1:15 later and with a still runny pie I decided to read the comments!
Alexandra M. November 28, 2015
This turned out very nice even without crust. I made the pie in a larger 10.5 in deep plate without crust. Used three eggs, it came out very light and everyone enjoyed it. My only error was waiting to the last minute to buy pumpkin purée because Whole Foods had just two boxes left of it instead of the denser cans, had some watery spots because of it. I made up for it by making a cognac wipped cream- 1c heavy cream, 2tbsp cognac, 1tbsp sugar, hand whipped in a cool bowl.
judy November 18, 2021
I love pumpkin custard without crust. so many variations of pies can be made without crust. They can be made into parfaits, puddings or other layered desserts. Pie crusts are a death knell for me. I would rather blind bake them crumble them and layer them into a parfait made from whatever filling I want.
Lorel K. November 25, 2015
Are you suggesting we do not use canned pumpkin? My custard was far too thin with almost an hour of cooking time. I used a 15 oz can of pureed pumpkin. 6 Eggs room temperature, however, I did not lightly beat.
Jenny November 25, 2015
There's some dispute about the number of eggs - it seems 2 is the right number for a 9" pie, not 6. I used a 15 oz can of puréed pumpkin too and 2 eggs, lightly beaten, and had to bake it for 45 min and let it set for a while after cooling, but it seems to have come out just fine. Custard was exactly the right consistency when I was pouring it in. I used heavy cream, too.
Jenny November 25, 2015
PS - I let it set for about half an hour.
Lorel K. November 28, 2015
Although my crust was overcooked, the pumpkin pie was delicious. Next time I'll reduce the amount of eggs from 6 to 3 as this appears to have been the problem. The bottom crust was perfect. Substituted fresh nutmeg instead of mace, Brandy instead of cognac and omitted candied ginger. Great recipe, thank you!
Alexandra M. November 23, 2015
Oh and forgot to mention no crust
Ben I. November 22, 2015
I was suspicious about the number of eggs in this one but followed the recipe because of the Beard reference. There is NO WAY he called for six eggs. My suspicions were affirmed when I had four ramekins of custard left after I filled the pie. The classic 9" pie calls for 2. Six eggs makes this an eggy disaster. The consistency is good, but it tastes like plain egg custard. I'm going to try this again with two eggs.
Alexandra M. November 23, 2015
Do you think the recipe could be doubled but by using four eggs total? I am looking to make a sort of cognac pumpkin brûlée
Ben I. November 24, 2015
AM, I wouldn't want to guess wrong at a point so close to this all-important food holiday so my suggestion is to make a micro batch and see what you think before doubling. Also I would sample the cooked custard before attempting an entire batch of brûlée. Note that when I doubled the recipe as written I had two very full 9" pies and eight very full ramekins. Subtract eight eggs and you should still have a ton of custard.
Jenny November 25, 2015
I tried it today with only two eggs and it came out great, as far as I can tell! Haven't tasted the finished pie (saving it for thanksgiving tomorrow) but the batter tasted fine and it set well, which was the only thing I was worried about. I baked it for 45 min instead of 30-35 because it wasn't setting, and it still wasn't set when I took it out, but it firmed right up while cooling.
Alexandra M. November 28, 2015
Three eggs worked out well!
Susan November 17, 2015
What type of cream should be used? Light? Heavy?
Jenny November 25, 2015
I used heavy cream and it came out great!
edith November 11, 2015
Can o skip the cognac? Or how can I replaced it with a non alcoholic liquid?
Amanda November 13, 2015
What about apple cider? That would go nicely with the spices and the pumpkin.
Scribbles November 5, 2015
Can hardly wait to try this - and will need to do it twice to take advantage of Antoina's recommendation for the praline topping!
Joyce November 5, 2015
How could I replace the Cognac?
AntoniaJames November 5, 2015
Cognac-flavored whipped cream? Yes, please. ;o)
AntoniaJames November 4, 2015
One of our family favorites! We do a "deep South" on this one, though, covering it with pecans which have been tossed in sugar and melted butter, and running it under the broiler to create a bubbly praline topping, right before serving. So happy to see this recipe here! ;o)
Tracy D. October 7, 2016
Hi Antonia - I'm unfamiliar with the Deep South method (being a Canadian!) - do you cover it with Pecans after it's cooked? Partway into baking? I imagine they would sink to the bottom if they're placed before baking?