Pumpkin Classics: Pumpkin Pie 101

October 23, 2018 by Kari Karch

I learned the fine art of baking while in culinary school years ago. My intention at culinary school was to be taught more of the savory side, but to go through the four-year program, baking was a requirement. Now, when I look back to that small amount of time dedicated to the craft of chemistry and patience, it taught me the art of pastry and pies.

Pumpkin pie can be a little tricky if you’ve never made it but with these simple tips and my fool-proof recipe, you’ll wow your guests with the first bite. Happy Eating!

Tip #1: Make your own pumpkin puree

Making a recipe from scratch means no shortcuts! This technique is so simple and not only saves you money, but the puree itself will send you into a cooking collaboration with a bevy of other recipes to try out (pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup..just to name a few). The flavor of the homemade pumpkin puree in comparison to the canned stuff that might have been leftover from last year is not even a contest. Homemade wins hands down. Plus it’s a fun adventure for the kiddos to help scrape out the insides. Just make sure to purchase ‘sugar’ pumpkins or ‘pie’ pumpkins to retain the most squash.

Tip #2: Check your spices

The last time you might have grabbed one of those little spice jars labeled ‘pumpkin pie’ or ‘ground nutmeg’ was probably a year ago. As a general rule, most ground spices can last 2-3 years but cinnamon will only last around 6-12 months. Cinnamon sticks on the other hand can last up to 2 years. Whole nutmeg takes the cake with lasting a whopping 5 years! So try out the ‘fresh is best’ approach and use a microplane to grate your nutmeg and cinnamon into your pie batter.

Tip #3: It’s all about the crust

My grandmother’s pie crust was considered a local town favorite. So much so, that her Boysenberry Pie won national pie baking competitions! That recipe was passed down and her secret was using ½ cup of confectioners sugar and just a splash of vinegar. Make sure to freeze the crust once in the pie pan for about 30 minutes to firm up the butter. This will help yield a flakier crust.

Tip #4: Make homemade whipped cream

When making homemade pies, having that fresh, silky whipped cream to accompany the pie is a must when learning the craft of baking. I almost scoff at any family party when I see that tub of processed oil that’s been frozen and called a ‘whipped topping.’ It’s like a stab in the heart to professional bakers! The trick is so simple, just place your stand mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer for an hour before making homemade whipped cream. Then take the chilled cream and add it to the bowl and whisk it with ½ cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I like to use Madagascar Vanilla for a deeper flavor). Let the whipped cream chill in your Kenmore refrigerator until it’s time to dollop on your pumpkin pie.


Grandma Karch’s Homemade Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 ¾ cups homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. grated cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground (or grated) cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Homemade whipped cream, for topping
  • 1 unbaked pie crust


Preheat your oven to 425*. In a small bowl, stir together the spices and sugar then set aside. In the bowl of your Kenmore stand mixer, slowly mix eggs, cream, maple syrup, and vanilla bean. Add in the sugar and spice mixture. Pour into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn down your oven to 350* and bake for an additional 60-75 minutes depending on your oven until the center is set. Let cool on a wire rack then serve up with the homemade whipped cream.


Kari Karch

Kari Karch is a 19-year veteran of the culinary industry, creator of Kiss the Cook, and the head chef and spokesperson for the Kenmore brand. She has made many notable appearances on ABC Morning News, on WGN, on the Cooking Channel and as a judge for the World Food Championships.